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Oulton Park

Interesting times while I continue to test new brake configurations!

An interesting weekend approached as I drove the 200 miles to the very beautifully manicured grounds of Oulton Park on Friday afternoon. The weather was going to be a challenge for me if it decided to be inclement.

This weekend was also special as Steve, Dan, Kieran and Gary Gardner from MWS were going to be there as they had received a special invitation to support the Lagonda Club and supply tyres, wheels and the inevitable technical support.

Luckily, the day dawned bright, sunny and very warm as Steve and I sat outside the Motor Home at 7am sipping the first mugs of tea of the day.

But things were about to change, as my Quali was first on the agenda and Signing On was at 07:00 hrs. (I really don’t do mornings!!). Scrutineering was at 07:30 hrs and Quali was at 08:30.

Scrutineering turned out to be more than a formality as I couldn’t get my Fog Light to work. Therefore, my Scrutineer failed me. He duly sent me back to our Mobile Workshop and Steve started to rewire the light. THEN, it dawned on me that the ignition had to be on to make it work. So, it was out with the new wiring and JDR tramped back to the Scrutineering Bay, with my tail between my legs and explained all.

I told you earlier, that I don’t do mornings! Now do you believe me HA HA??

Now that I was fully awake, I wanted to be first out for Quali and I was, as I wanted a couple of laps to test the brakes. That didn’t last long as the Big Healeys were out in force, with Dave Smithies leaving me for dead up Clay Hill!

But the brakes seemed OK, or so I thought.

Another challenge was that I hadn’t raced at Oulton Park for some four years and things have changed, like my car. As you now know, I wanted to keep the car as original as possible. So a Moss gearbox turned out to be not too sharp on the Oulton Park circuit. The gear ratios certainly weren’t right for the up-hill, down-dale winding corners, with no real ‘Stretch-Your-Legs’ straights to either cool the brakes, or use the engine power. But, at least it turned out to be dry and it gave me an opportunity to remember the circuit.

There were twenty cars in the race, of all shapes and sizes, but mainly with an Austin Healey background but only four Jaguar XK’s.

The race started well and I overtook a couple of cars and sneaked ahead of Graham Love in his XK150 going into Old Hall Corner and kept him behind me for a lap! But, my drum brakes were ‘Going Off’ very rapidly and it would have been unfair of me to use blocking tactics on Graham, when clearly he had superior disk brakes and I let him through at Old Hall on the next lap. However, Graham lost what he thought was his engine when he leaked oil on to the circuit, going down the start / finish straight. It transpired that an oil cooler pipe had disconnected itself and was spraying oil on to the exhaust. He pulled over before Cascades Corner and got out of the car very quickly while a fire flared in the cockpit.

Q. Have you ordered the new carpets yet Graham??

I carried on, but my brake pedal became longer and longer, so I slowed my pace to two seconds a lap slower and retrieved some of my brake pedal, as the system cooled down.

After 30 minutes I saw the Chequered Flag and, quite frankly, it was not a minute too soon, as I heard noises from the ‘Back End’ about 3 minutes from the end of the race.

The good news was that, with brand new Vredestein tyres, I had more grip than at Castle Combe, I didn’t overheat the engine, as I reset the Top Hose rheostat to automatically come on at 97°C, so that worked.

I finished the race in 16th, not especially brilliant, but Oulton Park, is really for either lightweight nippy little things, or all-out power-buses like the Healeys. My FIA XK140 is better suited to longer circuits, like Silverstone GP, Spa F1 circuit, Nurburgring etc.

Hey ho, another learning curve for JDR! So please read my next race report to see what further developments have taken place on the ‘Braking News’ front!

My next race will be at the newly refreshed:

Donington Park with the Aston Martin Owners Club on
Saturday the 9th October.

Hope to see you there!

John D R

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