First race meeting with my new
Bailey Edwards GT40 recreation.
5th December 2009 Execuline Springbox series Retro.
After competing for almost 5 years in the Porsche Challenge
with a 964 RS Club Sport, some 3 years ago I finally
hung up my helmet, or so I thought. All my life I wanted to
own a Le Man winning Ford GT 40 and over a year ago after
chatting with Peter Bailey of Bailey Edwards Cars, he said,
why don’t I build you one. So here I am back racing with a
recreation of the Le Man winning 1966 car as driven
by Bruce Mclaren and Chris Amon,
hence the New Zealand colour scheme. My brief to Peter was
I wanted a state of the art, bullet proof car to drive and race
as a gentleman driver and not to spend the weekend
with my feet sticking out from under it. That he did with the
engineering design modernized and updated by his Engineer son Greg,
they have produced an extremely well engineered super car
capable of racing with the best. My first race was this weekend
in the Springbox Retro Series and I entered the 2 sprint
races and the 1 hour endurance race with the car virtually straight out of the box and
the driver having had very little time behind the wheel.
After a few niggling problems in practice I settled down to qualifying and recorded 5th
on the grid with a respectable 2.04. I was happy with this despite everyone saying the
car was capable of a 1.58. The car maybe but at this stage the driver is not.
The first race was fairly eventful as I fought my way up to 3rd which I then spun away
to 5th due to over exuberance. As the commentator said “don’t often see many people spin
in that part of Wesbank”
The second race was better, finishing a respectable 3rd behind the incredibly quick and
expertly driven Cobra’s.
Third overall was not bad for a very rusty driver and an extremely quick and reliable car.
Then came the 1 hr endurance race, which started badly as the pit lane was closed and I
started from the back of the gird despite qualifying 5th. This meant I had to fight past
the field until I was up to 4th overall.
After about half an hour and racing by myself I thought that’s enough, so retired
gracefully into the pits.
The Bailey Edwards crew pounced on me and said, "what’s wrong!" “nothing the car’s perfect,
it’s the driver that’s knackered”. With hindsight if I had stayed out 2nd may have been
possible as 2 of the quicker cars in front experienced problems and slowed.
Still after watching the fun being had by the top driver’s and cars in the 3 hour
endurance race. Maybe if I lose 10 kilos and go to gym 7days a week I can be there next year.
The car can easily do it.
Overall a great weekend, which I thoroughly enjoyed and after a few bedding in problems
the car was faultless. If only I was 35 years younger!!!
Alec Bates 7th December 2009.