As part of its continuing 40th anniversary celebrations, the club held its second exclusive track evening of 2019 at Brands Hatch on August 27.

The now familiarly-eclectic mix of club member’s and guest’s cars had exclusive use of the Indy circuit from 5.30 until dusk on a balmy summer evening. Some remarkable cars took to the track; Ivan Dutton, the renowned Bugatti engineer and general classic and race car guru brought one of the first Lotus’s ever made, a lovely 1958 Lotus Seven which looked fabulous in its flawless fresh light blue paint and sounded terrific with its ‘little screamer’ 1000cc Coventry Climax engine. Ivan said: “This is a lovely relaxed evening where I can do the first shakedown of the car without worrying about being buzzed by hot hatches. I have found out a lot about the car tonight, really pleased.”

Another exceptional early Lotus was the X1 team car of Paul Alexander who impressed with his smooth and very fast laps.

Vying for seniority was the delightful Triumph TR2 of Neil Ashford who remarked that he had, “Great track time and no worries about other drivers, everyone was totally respectful of the different speeds of the various cars and very well-behaved!”

The lovely Ferrari P4 evocation of Total Headturners returned after having some clutch and turbo trouble at the first 96 Club Track Evening in May, it suffered a little fuel supply trouble but cleared its throat after a few laps and put in some thrilling laps for driver Mark Harrison and passengers.

Beryl Little of Barnet and Southgate College, a member of 96 Club partner organisation The International Guild of Specialist Engineers’ (www.tigose.com), brought her charming Mercedes-Benz SLK along and she was delighted by the opportunity to let it stretch its legs in a relaxed atmosphere. She remarked: “This was a most enjoyable evening, such interesting cars too!”

Some new faces and cars at the evening were Adrian Pritchard who brought his £500 (yes, really) Audi TT and had great some great (and cheap!) fun, Elliott Dines, and Peter Lawson who bravely took his Bentley Speed convertible round with some brio, after being persuaded that it was a very suitable track car by Mark Harrison who piloted the big Bentley with Peter as a surprisingly happy and confident passenger for some ‘sighting/training’ laps. Another new face was Steve Camplin who brought along his Nissan GTR, which, with its howling turbo and terrific turn of speed, showed a few people the quick way around Brands!

Club stalwart Bill Collins brought his Porsche 356 coupe along for its first serious outing for many years and he and Simon Duval Smith explored the little car’s handling limits, in spite of it being a little down on power on its newly rebuilt but yet to be fine-tuned engine.

Club chairman and founder Michael Scott braved the track in his lovely Alfa Spider and enjoyed himself enormously;y, saying that “This is the most fun I have had with my clothes on for a long time!”

The club was lucky enough to have its own instructor on hand for the second time; Kevin Haggarthy demonstrated his skill and tuition expertise, taking drivers and passengers out in the fabulous Barnet and Southgate College Renault Clio, and instructing drivers in their own cars on how to get the best from their cars and the track.

Unlike many ‘mixed and free for all’ track days, the evening saw no incidents save for a spin from a Caterham (what is a track day without a spin from a Caterham!?) and Pete Sangha having a small off into the gravel at Paddock Hill bend in his freshly-restored 1985 Porsche 911. Fortunately, the only damage was a scuffed wheel and a bruise to Pete’s ego… 

We were lucky enough to have our own blogger at the event, Niall Julian of Take to the Road fame took some great pictures and has posted a report at: https://www.taketotheroad.co.uk/the-96-club-40th-anniversary-brands-hatch-august-track-session/

For most of the evening, there were no more than six cars on the track at a time, giving drivers the time and space to really explore the limits of their cars and refine their mastery of this demanding but forgiving circuit.

Following the great success of this first Track Evening, the next track evening will be held in early 2020, we are booking dates now so if you have any preferred evenings in the Spring and Summer of next year, please email to: simon@96club.co.uk

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