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Formula Ford cars of three eras took centre stage on Snetterton’s 300 Circuit as the Jim Russell Trophy meeting honoured one of the category’s founders and opened the Historic Sports Car Club’s 2021 season on 17-18 April.  Local hero Russell bought fleets of FFs - Lotus, Alexis, Merlyn and Van Diemen chassis - for his renowned racing drivers’ schools.  The triple national F3 champion died in 2019, just short of his 100th birthday, an innings matched by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, a motor racing enthusiast for whom a minute’s silence was observed on Saturday, as his funeral began at Windsor Castle.

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On a sunny weekend with a chill wind, the event ran behind closed doors due to extended COVID-19 protocols.  At the venue where the first FF Festival was won by Ian Taylor in a Dulon on the super-fast original track, Cameron Jackson won both the Historic (Pre-‘72) and Classic (Pre-‘82) championship double-headers at the wheel of his black ‘71 Winkelmann WDF2, a Palliser rebranded by its US marketer.  He also dominated the Historic Formula Junior opener in his Brabham BT2, resplendent in the livery of UK-based Dutch flower seller Klaas ‘Jimmy’ Twisk’s Tulip Stable, making it a five from five lockout.

Cameron Jackson won both the Historic (Pre-‘72) and Classic (Pre-‘82) championship double-headers at the wheel of his black ‘71 Winkelmann WDF2. He also dominated the Historic Formula Junior opener in his Brabham BT2.  Photo Charlie Wooding

Contemporary Formula Fords came out in the Heritage grids, American youngsters Max Esterson and Colin Queen twice beating the older cars in their Low Dempsey Racing Ray GR18s.  Their closest pursuer was retired F1 TV commentator Ben Edwards driving the Van Diemen in which Martin Byford won the Champion of Snetterton series in 1992!

Historic FF2000 looks set for a bumper season, with 30 competitors eagerly out on parade for the opening races.  Eighteen of them - including ‘79 European champion Adrian Reynard himself in the last SF79 built, dressed in his period car’s Canadian Club Whiskey livery - driving Reynards.  Past master Benn Simms was in a class of his own all weekend, charging his SF77 clear of Graham Fennymore - who had repaired his SF81 following a prang in Friday testing - and Greg Robertson (SF79).  Reynard finished fifth on Saturday, a place claimed by local Stephen Glasswell on Sunday.

Hard Tryer - Adam Cunnington Ford Lotus Cor na  Photos Eric Sawyer

Fresh from smashing the Donington Classic F3 lap record at the Masters meeting, Andy Smith annihilated Snetterton’s, hurtling his ex-Helmut Henzler March 783 away from reigning champion Benn Tilley (ex-Brian Henton/Rupert Keegan BAF March 743) and Tony Hancock (ex-Mike Blanchet Lola T670) in race one.  Smith’s suspension tweaks between races left him short of traction later, but he nonetheless harassed Tilley over the final laps of Saturday’s finale.

Dan Williamson (Ford Falcon) won the Touring Car race

Historic Road Sports brought out the first of the HSCC staples, a fine and representative multi-marque 22-car entry redolent of the 1950s and ‘60s. 

Later spec Morgans topped the even stronger 70s’ Road Sports contest which boasted 29 starters.  Lad and dad Will and Richard Plant rumbled clear of former Historic F1 racer Dave Karaskas (TVR 3000M) and triple champion Jeremy Clark, whose Elan S4’s engine blew spectacularly passing the pits.

When potential Historic Touring Car challenger Pete Hallford’s Ford Mustang struggled to leave the grid at the lights in both races, making things a bit fraught as the Lotus Cortinas and Steve Platts’ Singer Chamois funnelled through, poleman Dan Williamson scored two lonely wins in his Falcon.

Ben Simms took both FF2000 races in his Reynard SF77 from a bumper grid containing no fewer than 18 Reynards

Mark Charteris and a surprised Adrian Holey were the winners in a Classic Clubmans attrition-fest.  Charteris had a fright in Sunday’s finale when his propshaft grenaded (mercifully a safety hoop in the transmission tunnel did its job) shortly after he took the lead from Clive Wood, whose throttle cable snapped shortly thereafter.

Ecurie Classic Racing subscribed to a 40-minute guest slot with Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club invitees.  Soloist Allan Ross-Jones bolted his metallic blue Triumph TR4 out of the blocks at the start of the mini-enduro and was not unseated.

Get our May 2021 issue for a full report