Jensen Monday Club
Like an itch you can't quite scratch, in all the time I have lived in my cottage, which is about 7 miles from the famous Prescott Hill climb course (run your mouse over the corners shown on the track for more detail), I have never actually made it.
It has been a combination of things. I keep forgetting when it's on, or I don't forget but I have to work, or as is the case more recently Prescott seem unable to answer e-mail requests for the details I have requested to try to make it a JOC event.
I had posted a question on the JOC Forum about a possible day out at the hill climb, and had got a good response, but I had got no where trying to get information from the site as to how I could organise this. I had pretty much given up when out of the blue Steve Payne rang and said there was an open charity event that anyone could enter. It was £42 for 2 runs up the hill, and £5 for every run after that.
It is also home of the Bugatti owners club and Bugatti museum, which is celebrating it's 70th anniversary this year.
As is the way with these things when we checked the dates (11th May) it coincided with the West Bromwich car show. We knew Steve Johnson was trying to get as many Jensen cars as he could to the West Brom show, so we decided not to mention the hill climb to the rest of the JOC members so it wouldn't reduce the numbers at West Brom.
The weather forecast was for sunshine, and the only fly in the ointment was that Chris Miller's car was not present due to it being fettled for it up coming MOT. Which mean that Chris would be using my car.
Ever heard the expression "Drive it like you stole it..."
I think someone's peaceful summer afternoon was going to be spoilt
We had to be at the course for 9am for a briefing and to walk the course to become familiar with the route.
It was set in the beautiful rolling hills of Gloucestershire, and it was the first real day of summer, so the weather couldn't have been better.
The car park soon filled up with all manner of fantastic machinery.
It was a frightfully English affair, with the announcer on the tannoy asking "Would the first competitor mind awfully reporting to the starting line". When you has finished your run and came back to the paddock, you were greeted by a very dapper gent who would doff his Panama hat an enquire very politely if you has enjoyed your run. Very civilised.
We took some shots of various car at Ettore (Bugatti' s first name) corner, which is the hairpin bend. This would be the scene later of Chris's little adventure...
I did my first run, with Chris as a passenger using the video on my camera. We had been warned during the briefing that we would be banned for dangerous driving, and if you listen to the commentary after the hairpin, where I had to use a little opposite lock, you can hear Chris repeat the warning. You can also here me lamenting not setting my adjustable shock absorbers to a harder setting.
The last corner is a complete pig, and if you get it wrong and go over the edge the next thing you will see will be the Grand Canyon! Is was a bit savage and Chris's finger came of the record button, so the video of the finish is in the second clip.
We managed to get a good video of Steve around Ettore hairpin bend. The was Steve's first attempt, which is why he is driving like a pensioner :0)
We broke for lunch (being a terribly English event, it naturally stopped for Tiffin), and so we had a bit of a feed.
We took some more snaps of the rest of the cars on the starting line.
It was now time for Chris to have a go. I went with him as a passenger, and he put in a fast and very tidy run. Steve had done a 68 second run, be me and Chris felt he was holding back a little, so we told him I had done a 59 second run. This got Steve fired up, and his next run was 65 seconds, the same as my best time.
These are some pictures taken by a professional photographer who was there on the day. These are reduce quality version of the originals, which are 22 megabytes each!
The course record is 35 seconds in a specialised single seat racing car, but we used for comparison the 59 seconds done by Top Gear's professional racing driver in a light weight sports car.
I suggested to Chris that I time his next run. He said he would prefer being video'd off the start line, so I got the camera set up. It's amazing what not having the fear of smashing your own car up does to a man. You will get the general idea of this when you compare the different tyre screeching noises of a:
Chris went at it like a man possessed, and flew around the hairpin bend with a vengeance. He floored the car out of the bend, which triggered the kickdown, which triggered a 360 degree spin off the track and across the grass...
In typical technology fashion, Steve's camera gave up the ghost just as Chris was doing an impression of a spinning top. It's a shame as it was the only "off" of the day. The only image we got was the tyre marks in the grass.
A great shame as it would have been a classic, but a storming day out non the less.
Everyone asked us if the cars overheated as people do when enquiring about Jensen's, but on a scorching day with repeated flat out run, the temperature gauges read "normal". Can't say the same for the tyre's mind...
I am sending the bill to Chris for the stain removal from the drivers seat, but other than that, no hard done.