A month after the last race at Oulton and only 7 months since our season began the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge had reached its final weekend at Snetterton. The annual M.G. Car Club closing meeting was again scheduled for two days with our championship getting a race on each day with qualifying and first race on the Saturday.
The entry for this weekend is often strong and with 20 cars we weren’t to be disappointed and of course we would see the Champion announced. It was likely to be James Dunkley after a superb season, but its motor racing and anything can happen.
The entries were in Class A, David Weston, Nick Day, James Dunkley, Stephen Pegram, Sam Healey coming over from Cornwall and a returning Ed. Reeve who you may recall has entered every Midget Championship since its inception 50 years ago. He has undergone knee replacement surgery and is fighting fit once more. In Class B we had Andy and son Chris Southcott, Richard Wildman, Stephen Collier and Carl Chadwick who had that accident at Oulton Park. He was not in that repaired car as first thought, but in a spare chassis that hadn’t been raced in 20 years. The running gear was, however, from the damaged car.
In Class D was Nigel Lackford, Ed. Easton, Martyn Clews, Jim Prior and Jon Simpson and Class E saw Richard Homer, John Collinson, Ian Burgin and Pippa Cow all eager to do battle.
Rain was forecast for later in the day but the lovely clear sky and early Autumn sunshine made that hard to believe as the cars made their way out for qualifying. Dunkley was soon setting the pace and secured pole with Weston not far behind setting a time just over a second short. Reeve showed he had lost non of his speed and was sitting in third place. Chris and Andy Southcott in their Class B cars were next, separated by less than half a second from Day. Wildman was next ahead of Healeys class A by less than 7 thousandth’s of a second with Collier and Pegram both a fraction behind them. Cow was next from Chadwick and Collinson.
Lackford was the first Class D ahead of Burgin, Easton and Clews with Homer, Simpson and Prior completing the order, Prior only completing one lap before returning with a misfiring engine, he would discover a head gasket failure which would be repaired before the race.
By the time our race came around the weather had changed dramatically with torrential rain causing the race before ours to be stopped with a subsequent delay in proceedings.
Eventually with the rain subsiding slightly the cars came out for the warm up but even before the race started we had 3 cars into the pits. Prior with a temperature issue, like he didn’t have one, Weston with an electrical misfire and Chadwick with drive train problems. So 17 cars waited for the start which saw Dunkley away in the lead and Southcott A coming from the third row to slot into second and by the end of that lap those two were pulling clear. Reeve was third from Day, Healey, Wildman, Collier, Southcott C, a challenging Collinson, Cow, Pegram, Lackford, Burgin, a battling Clews and Easton, Homer and Simpson who had had a spin to drop him to the tail.
Next lap through Reeve was caught out by the puddles having a quick spin which dropped himself and Healey, who took avoiding action, behind Wildman and Collier. It was Oulton Park all over again with everyone splashing around on the limit of adhesion. Several cars spun in the conditions including Collinson and Chris Southcott, who’s races were spoilt as a result.
Burgin was suffering a misfire which turned out to be a distributor issue. Wildman and Collier were close in combat until the unfortunate Wildman pulled out from a splendid fourth place on the penultimate lap with a broken gearbox leaving Collier to then challenge Day for third which he took on that last lap, earning him ‘Driver of The Race’ from the commentary team.
Up front Dunkley had cruised to victory in the conditions from Andy Southcott with Collier and Day so close at the end. Reeve recovered to take fifth, annoyed with his spin. Healey finished ahead of Cow, Pegram and Lackford all well apart, before Collinson made it back to tenth ahead of Burgin, Simpson who had also claimed some places in recovery, Easton, Chris Southcott, Clews and Homer.
The win had unofficially made Dunkley Champion although it wouldn’t be confirmed until next day when all the Class battles would also be decided.