One-Litre F3 Historic Racing Association

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2012 Season Survey


When the 1 litre Formula Three finished at the end of 1970, the replacement 1600cc formula never managed to capture the imagination in the way that ‘screamers’ had. The new cars were more sophisticated, but somehow lacked the purity and innocence of the one litre cars. Gradually, as all obsolete racing cars do, they disappeared, some were updated, many went hill climbing whilst others ended up in Monoposto and Formula Four.

The HSCC has always been at the forefront in the growth of historic racing, and under their banner the Classic Racing Car Championship became a home for several classes; of these, the Formula Juniors (under the leadership of Duncan Rabagliati) out-grew the format and flourished sufficiently to become a strong international class. The one litre F3s ran here, and in the earlier years were campaigned amongst others by; David Pullen, Richard Irwin, Peter Williams and the late Robert Baker-Carr. Both Steve Wilkinson and I also ran F3’s in the CRC and agreed to form the 1000ccF3HRA in 2007 with the avowed aim of increasing the popularity of the screamers, and in the longer term of obtaining championship status.

Over the past five years HSCC with the Association have worked hard to raise the profile of Historic Formula Three; an invitation to the Monaco Historic Grand Prix gave much publicity, and in 2011 HSCC ran the first stand alone race in the UK for one litre F3 cars at Cadwell Park, when the inaugural Justin Haler Trophy took place. This proved to be a huge success, so much so that HSCC decided for 2012 to run a series of five races just for the one litre cars. The meetings chosen were Cadwell Park in April, the Autosport Three hour meeting at Snetterton, Croft Nostalgia meeting in August, and Brands Indy circuit in September with the icing on the cake, Dijon in October.

The season opener at Cadwell Park was run again for the Justin Haler Memorial Trophy; Justin was a Journalist working for Autosport and was a great supporter of the 1960’s Formula 3 scene. Unfortunately, the meeting ran in the wettest April for decades and Saturday’s programme was badly affected, as heavy rain forced the HSCC to abandon the programme with three races still to run, including the first HF3 race. Some hard work by the Clerking team saw two re-scheduled HF3 races run on Sunday. The first race started with David Methley on pole from Nigel Bancroft and Francois Derossi. However the wet condition were still causing some problems, and after a couple of offs for Methley, Derossi took an easy win from newcomer Dean Forward, who had come from 14th on the grid in his superbly presented Brabham BT21B. Unfortunately Bancroft was delayed in the paddock and failed to take the start. The second race provided another comfortable win for Derossi with Roland Fischer coming through to take second with Ian Bankhurst taking a well earned third. The Class A wins being shared by Nigel Winchester and Belgian visitor Mauro Poponcini in Mallock and Cooper respectively.

The Autosport Three Hour meeting at Snetterton was next, and the single header format took its toll on entries, especially from across the Channel; but a respectable 15 cars arrived for practice. These included newcomer Jim Timms, a long term Monoposto racer, with his beautifully prepared Brabham BT21, Jim had been at Cadwell but the weather and some new car problems had seen him unable to race. Nigel Bancroft, in Tony Mantle’s Chevron B17, took an easy win from Stuart Tizzard, Chevron B15C with Niki Lauda aka Tim Kary taking third and Peter Thompson Brabham BT21 fourth.

The superb Croft Nostalgia meeting was the next with 19 cars, including a good continental entry; the proximity to Hull reduces their UK mileage allowing them to miss the inevitable British traffic jams. Ferdinand Gustafson and Roland Fischer possibly regretted the decision to visit, both suffering early problems. Ferdinand managed to clip something solid which destroyed a rear corner of his Brabham BT18, however a quick trip to Steve Wilkinson’s workshop saw them return with some borrowed parts and with much overnight work the car was ready for qualifying. Roland, in the Tecno, was not quite as lucky, braking late for the first corner, he hit oil and went straight on into the barriers destroying the front corner, with no parts available he was out for the weekend. Qualifying had Dean Forward, on his local track, in a class of his own nearly 2 seconds ahead of the following pack of seven who were covered by less than one second. Dean dominated both races though he did not manage to match the best lap put in by David Methley in the CRC race in 2011. Initially yours truly took second place but a sticky gear selector allowed Tizzard and Nigel Bancroft through for second and third place. In the second race Kary took the runner up spot with Tizzard and Bancroft continuing their battle, resolved as before. The Class A honours were once again shared between Mauro Poponcini and Nigel Winchester.

The end of the season was approaching fast, and at Brands Hatch tail end of hurricane Nadine was approaching, arriving inconveniently at the start of what was supposed to be our first race of two. In condition where it was difficult to see, even without the spray, it was no surprise to find Dean Forward taking the lead from the very fast starting Chris Holland, but Chris spun at Graham Hill bend. Dean’s excellent car control allowing him to win nearly 30 seconds ahead of the battling duo of Kary and newcomer Simon Armer, in the ex John Counsell Peytoner March 703; Tizzard and Chapman took fourth and fifth spots. With racing abandoned for an hour, sensible decisions by the Clerking team saw our second race cancelled, in order to give the other racers some chance of getting a race.

During the year our friend and leading period driver Bev Bond, had suggested that the season finale at Dijon-Prenois should also be a race for the Nations Cup. This was last run for F3 cars in 1970 at Thruxton where Bev was a member of the Great Britain ‘A’ team with James Hunt and Mike Beuttler.

The Dijon circuit, built in the 1960s, was meant for 1 litre F3’s, the sweeping turns encourage the maximum to made of the grip provided by the HF3’s wide tyres, plus the one kilometre main straight seems perfectly designed for getting the maximum tow. With these circuit attractions and the additional incentive of the Nations Cup, a glorious early October day saw 25 HF3 cars go out for qualifying. However this session was quickly red flagged when Ferdinand Gustafson had a major engine failure, the resultant oil slick not only finished Ferdi’s weekend, but also took out our Swiss dentist Juerg Tobler.

Fischer took pole from Forward, Derossi and Swiss newcomer Louis Maulini in a Merlyn Mk10, all covered by less than a second, then came Max Blees Brabham BT15 and Kary.

In first race Forward, Fischer, Maulini and Derossi pulled clear of the following pack and then put on a dice that recreated the atmosphere of the period F3 races, all four cars ran in extremely close company, slipstreaming and swapping positions each lap. Those viewing from the pit wall were ecstatic with the quality of the racing. At the flag the order was; Forward, Maulini, Fischer, with Derossi who had been slightly dropped in fourth. Max Blees took fifth and Maurice Slotine sixth with yours truly seventh.

Overnight rain left the circuit slightly damp for race two but Chapman quickly found his way to the front; Jim’s non regulations wet tyres giving him a marked advantage in the treacherous conditions. Behind him, the race for points was almost as closely fought as in race one, but this time between Derossi, Blees, who was enjoying the damp conditions, and Forward who were followed home b Maulini and a battling trio of Tizzard, Timms and Christoph Widmer.

Thanks mainly to the efforts Forward’s two stunning drives, (dry tyre on a very damp circuit in the second race), UK Team A (Forward, Jim Timms and Keith Messer) won the Nations Cup from France (Derossi and Slotine) and Switzerland (Maulini, Christoph and honorary Swiss, Frank Lyons )

As this has been a series, we have no overall winner, however the outstanding drivers of the year are Dean Forward, his drives at Croft Dijon and Brands Hatch were brilliant, Stuart Tizzard and Tim Kary.

2012 has had some superb grids with fantastic racing with the number of HF3 cars on the circuits increasing, the HF3 revival now has a real buzz; cars are changing hands, new projects being found and restorations in progress. Half a dozen cars and drivers are waiting in the wings ready for 2013, which promises bigger and better things. Lastly I would like to give a personal thank you to all those; drivers, teams, officials and the marshals who have made 2012 our first stand alone season so memorable.