Classic Nostalgia | Harris Makes it Four on the Bounce at Shelsley
Keith Harris in his 1971 Chevron B19 sped to another closely fought win at the Shelsley Walsh Classic Nostalgia weekend as he threaded his way up the famous 1000 yard hill in 31.62 seconds in between the rare rain of the 2018 summer. Harris has been a spectator and now driver at Shelsley since he first came as a young lad in the late 1950s so the win was very special for him as it means he has been unbeaten at this meeting for the past four years.
Worcester’s Mark Harrison was narrowly pipped to second Best Time of the weekend in his lovely 1980 Toleman F2 car that he has spent the past eight years restoring with his family and friends. He’d fitted new tyres and aerodynamics to the car over last year’s event and was therefore happy to have got a good time on a track that was slippery after the rain. Third was Malcolm Thorne in the 1964 F2 Lotus 35 with the sonorous 1.6 litre engine that sung it’s way through the Teme valley with such noise Malcom’s neighbours would have been able to hear him as he lives only a few moments away. Indeed, he maybe drove more miles up the hill over the weekend than on the road to get to Shelsley...
Saturday was a little wetter for the all important class runs but it was Bromyard’s Richard Mason in his 1962 Austin Healey 3000 who has got his name in the 113 year old record books at Shelsley Walsh for the first time with an epic run with the straight 6 engined car as he stopped the clocks at 35.83. Mark Harrison was second on 37.11 and the 2005 Mitsubishi Evo 9 rally car of John Clayton was third with 37.25 seconds. In all the years of competition of Shelsley Walsh there may never be as an eclectic mix of podium cars as that!
The rally cars were also once again a huge pull with cars covering a 22 year old period of 1981 to 2004 thanks to Steve Davies and the Ralli22 group. The first car to grab people’s attention was Shelsley regular Graham Wynn with his recently acquired Escort Mk 11 that finished second on the Monte Carlo rally in period and the incredible 5 litre V8 powered Chevrolet Firenza Can Am that spun it’s wheels in every gear on the wet tarmac.
Front wheel drive was covered with Tony Shields and Dominic Delaney in their Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 205 respectively while the rear wheel drive cars naturally swung things around into Bottom Ess.
The 4 wheel drive cars were spectacular to with a little less grip, Ryan Champion who has now had three visits to Shelsley Walsh being the show stopper in his 1996 ex works Subaru 555 that was a team car to the squad that had Colin McRae in as the then reigning World Champion. His big cut of the Bottom Ess corner was great even if the officials told him to try and use the road a bit more. Rally drivers hey?
In competition, it was the aforementioned Clayton who pipped Steve Chamberlain with his Hyundai Accent WRC from 2004 both days. The Ralli 22 group has competed at Prescott and the Chateau Impney this year, but were adamant to tell us that Shelsley is their ‘home’ for hill climbs.
Highlights away from the competition were the Williams F1 cars of 1992 and 2016 that were ex Nigel Mansell, Filipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Mansell used the 1992 car on the way to his World Championship victory that year as he took a then record nine victories in one season, including an emotional British Grand Prix win in front of 125,000 people.
A 1989 Lotus F1 car wowed the crowds with the sheer noise that is so evocative of an F1 car, as was the Dallara 3.5 litre V10 from 1991 that was of course in…Italian red and the only Osella F1 car from 1983 that survives. All were part of the F1 demonstration together with earlier cars from Grand Prix racing going back to the wonderful 1926 Bugatti Type 35 that drove at Shelsley in the 1920s.
Motorcycles were in the field as part of a classic Enduro show while on the track there were thirty motorcycles from the 1920s all the way through to Jenny Tinmouth’s Honda Fireblade that she used in the British Superbike Championship and on the Isle of Man TT where she is the female lap record holder with 119.945 mph. The burn out she did on the start line was…smokey!
Other fascinating bikes included the rare 49cc Ducati from 1967 and the Ducati 916 that was the basis of World Superbike wins in the mid 90s, and one of only three remaining Honda 350cc twins that rode in Grand Prix in 1968. Indeed so rare is the Honda RSC owned by Ron Roebury that not even the Honda Museum in Japan have one. Static bikes on display included an ex Barry Sheene Grand Prix Suzuki RG500 from 1981 in a packed area of motorcycles.
The Concours on Sunday was a little damp but a huge well cheer went up for Paul Skitt and his group who not only had a wonderful Alvis but celebrated his 60th birthday with 22 other people who arrived in period dress and even a full croquet set for a quick round on the grass. He took away an award with a goodie bag from Piston Gin.
Photo by Stuart Santos-Wing