The Classic Sports Car Club’s Thruxton Thriller certainly lived up to its billing with a weekend of terrific racing under sunny blue skies. This was the Club’s second visit to the fastest race circuit in the UK, their inaugural meeting being last August. Saturday was mainly for modern-ish cars but Sunday was for classics and the grids were packed with interesting cars. Among the Chevy engined machines running in the Special Saloons and Modsports was Joe Ward’s “Baby Bertha”, the steroidal 5.7-litre V8 Vauxhall Firenza made famous by the late, great Gerry Marshall. During the Seventies Gerry raced it five times at Thruxton and won every race.
In the ‘Future Classics’ Alex Thistlethwayte was out in his recently acquired 1968 Camaro, a car built by Bill Shaw Racing for the 1970 British Saloon Car Championship, driven by Roy Pierpoint and then successfully campaigned by Martin Thomas in the UK and Europe. Ford Mustangs and Falcons diced it out with Lotus Elans, TVRs and MGs in the Mintex Classic K race, but the best of the American action came in the very last race, the 40 minute long Swinging Sixties race.
Neil Merry qualified his 7.4-litre big block “Budd” Corvette (a CA feature car) in second place, his best ever grid position at Thruxton, with Ray Barrow in his 1969 5.7-litre Camaro in third. A light and nimble Lotus Elan bagged pole but was quickly overhauled. Merry took the lead but was then hounded by a 5.0-litre Ford V8 powered TVR Tuscan until the compulsory pit stop when he lost time. Barrow, however, had a lightning fast stop and gained the lead which he held to the flag, with the TVR second and Merry’s Corvette third.
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Barrow, who has raced his self-prepared modified car for the last six seasons said “I was surprised when they told me I’d won. I thought I was racing the TVR for second. It’s a very fast track, but it’s hard work because you are nearly always in a turn.” Third overall was Merry’s best Thruxton result. He also won his class for FIA spec, Dunlop historic tyre clad cars. He said “What a great race. I was clocking 144 mph in places. I completely destroyed my left rear tyre and once I was completely sideways coming into the chicane.” A thrilling end to the Thruxton Thriller. Words & Photography: Steve Havelock.
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