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Castle Combe

The Biggest Test for my new Racer yet! But we’re nearly there

Following on from a very interesting Sprint with the Aston Martin Owners Club, I returned to the world of motor racing last Saturday.

This was going to be the toughest test for the 140, as I had only done 20 minute and 30 minute races. This race however was going to be a 45 minute, for one or two drivers. I chose to race this one alone with an obligatory pit stop of one minute.

It had rained the night before and my qualifier was at 09:05 hours, with a damp track but luckily a drying one. As usual, I was first out of the traps and arrived at the quali Assembly Area first and waited for 09:05.

Steve was there to set up the camcorder, lap timer and all things hi-tech. With a wave of the flag we drove round to the main pit area and readied ourselves to go. The lights turned to green and I was off with a clear track ahead, and hoping to get two or three laps in as bankers, before other, faster cars caught me.

Two things happened! Firstly, I set a very respectable lap time of 1 Min. 19.4 seconds. This is only 0.8 seconds slower than my best ever XK150 with its 3.8 Litre engine, 4 Synchro gearbox and disk brakes. (Oh the joy of Drum Brakes). Please read on to find out what happened.

Secondly, and with only nine out of thirteen laps completed, I was exiting Quarry Corner and I realised that I had no throttle pedal, well, one that worked anyway. So I sat out the remainder of qualifying chatting to my two Marshals.

Having been towed back to the Paddock, Steve set about uncovering what had happened to my throttle linkage and, he found that one of the mechanical linkage arms had ‘Popped’ out from the other. He then took the assembly to pieces, stretched the retaining springs (Which were probably 55 years old anyway) and refitted the assembly. He used a double tie-wrap configuration to secure the linkage. PERFECT! Thanks Steve (once again!!).

When the results arrived, I was pleased that I had qualified 10th out of 24 cars in the race, and 5th fastest Jaguar XK in the race, having beaten off a further five XK’s from faster ‘Classes’.

We had another new experience waiting for us in the race?? The first ‘Rolling Start’, which Colin Youle was very unhappy about, as Colin’s flying / standing starts are awesome, HA HA, OOPS, sorry Colin!!

The race was a fascinating experience! This was going to be 45 minutes of not knowing how the brakes would perform. Steve brought me in after 25 minutes and 15 laps, and he noticed that my back brakes (drums remember) were really smoking. In addition, I forgot to switch the Cooling Fan on, so the engine got a little too warm to be healthy. After the 1 minute had passed, Ron Maidens (from the Masters) let me out and on I continued on my way.

Up to this point, I had been putting in consistent lap time of about 1 Min 30 secs. On my return to the circuit, my tyres were ‘Going off’ and my brake pedal had ‘Hardened’ and with very limited braking capability. It just got worse from then on. It’s really difficult to stop 1.5 tons of car that contains an engine capable of 140 mph! Still, that’s motor racing. FUN AY??

In the process, I was being hounded down by the XK150’s of Andy Keith-Lucas and Graham Love and, of course, at good old Quarry Corner, which had become very slippery as Nigel Webb with a blown engine in his Jaguar Mk 1, had dumped oil on the apex of the corner, I lost the car completely, but luckily avoided hitting the tyre wall, (Which Andrew Moore didn’t manage during Quali).

The 2 X XK150’s shot by. I re-joined the race, but my brakes were now officially shot to pieces and I had to use my gearbox to assist the ailing brakes at each corner.

Finally, I did finish the race, where I came 12th out of 24! Not a bad finish considering I couldn’t stop the old girl, and a 1st in Class Trophy was awaiting me.

On Monday, I inspected the brakes and found that the shoe linings had completely over-heated and disintegrated, but luckily without damaging the drums. The main offender it appears was that the hand brake cable was snagging around the schockers which gave me additional braking on left and right-hand bends, hence the over-heating.

As I’ve said before, this year is a shake-down for my new racer and it certainly is proving to be just that. More development needed I think.

Keith, my Engineer now has his hands full to get me ready for the next event which will be at


Oulton Park with the Aston Martin Owners Club on
Saturday the 21st August

Hope to see you there!

John D R


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