MGCC Speed Championship which Ben will be competing in during 2020
Wiscombe (Hill Climb)
Prescott (Hill Climb)
Shelsley Walsh (Hill Climb)
Castle Hill (Hill Climb)
Wiscombe (Hill Climb)
Gurston (Hill Climb)
Castle Combe (Sprint)
With no racing this season to date and an unsure few months ahead for all we were delighted to find Ben and his AH Sprite on the front cover of the latest Speedscene Magazine which focuses on the Sprint and Hillclimb scene.This was the excellent picture taken at Gurston, by Pro. photographer Steve Lister, when Ben was pushing hard round Ashes which ended with him being First in class on the day. It's the little car with a big smile, so thank you Steve - it looks great.
Another great year's racing in 2019, Ben collected his awards Saturday and they were presented to him by Mr Stuart Turner who was once competions Manager at BMC. Ben won First in class in the Southern series and the Windmill and Lewis trophy for 2nd overall. Looking forward to the new season starting.
This all started six years ago when my uncle left me his 1977 MG Midget. The challenge was to modify it into a weekend racer that could also be driven on the road. Having joined the Woolbridge Motor Club I did various events for two years, mostly hill climbs. Then I was approached by Steve Cox at Wiscombe Park suggesting I had a look at the championships he was running. The Classic Marques speed championship is based on a power to weight handicap system for each car entered. I chose eight out of 25 rounds, these being at Gurston Down, Wiscombe Park, Prescott and two sprints at Castle Combe. Over the years the car has become a racing car for the road. It is still road legal but the compromise being speed rather than comfort which often makes driving to the event something of a challenge. Everything needed for my weekends away is carried in the car: tools, spares, fuel, all the racing gear, tent and camping equipment! I need to get to the events in daylight in order to set up camp and turn the car into a weekend racer. Many people have asked about racing and then driving home in the same car. I set out to keep things really simple, no trailer or motorhome; it's just up to me to keep it all together. Driving long distances to events really is unpleasant and I feel a sense of relief when finally arriving with enough time to sort out everything. Here is a quick resume of my season:
A Year to Remember 2019
Rounds one and two Gurston Down on 20/21 April. It was a brilliant weekend, going faster on each run. On the Sunday my family all came to support me and I wanted to do as well as possible. Gurston is unusual because it starts off going downhill and sweeps through Hollow Bend then up towards Karousel. You really feel as if you are flying. I managed a PB - what a great start to the new season! I finally felt experienced enough to push harder. Only a short week before Wiscombe Park 27/28 April, one of my favourites.
I arrived early to help set up. The car was brilliant! I managed another PB and got a trophy for 'Spirit of the Meeting'! In early May I returned to Wiscombe for the 500 owners meeting. I love this meeting and it is very close to my heart as my late father raced a Triumph-engined Kieft 500 here in the 1950s. I had a great day and managed first in class, my first ever trophy for racing!
My next round was Prescott on 25 May. After a long 4 hour drive, I arrived just in time to walk the hill before daylight ran out. On race day the little green Midget seemed like an outcast amongst all the exotic machinery on view.
Practice went well but I still needed to go much faster. After many delays my turn finally came. I spun up the wheels before the start, waited for the green light and then off I went. I was way too aggressive, going too fast and got caught out at the Esses, having a massive moment heading for the crash barriers and just managing to save a big shunt before carrying on up the hill. That was really too close and I made a note to self; get your head in the right place. Happily on the final run of the day I got another PB and the car was still in one piece! I had a long drive home to reflect.
In July I headed to Castle Combe for a sprint, an essential requirement for the Classic Marques Speed Challenge. The circuit there is really fast and wide compared to a hill climb venue. The little MG seemed lost on the wide open track. It was flat out needing only third and fourth gears seeing maximum RPM in 4th hoping the motor will stay together! I improved my times from last year and left with 21 points for my efforts.
Round number seven was back at Wiscombe Park on 14 September for the MG Car Club event. There was a wonderful array of MGs from vintage to modern. It was a lovely day catching up with old friends in a relaxed atmosphere. My wife appeared with my two daughters and we had a super picnic in the sunshine. Then it was down to business. I managed a run under 50 seconds, a real seat of the pants effort. I never thought I would get this time in the Midget. And another trophy!
My final round was another sprint at Castle Combe, this time a full lap of the circuit. Classic Marques were out in force for the final round of the championship. I had worked out how many points I needed to be in the top ten, which was my ambition for the season. Practice went well with steady improvement each time. When my turn came, I gave everything I could for the whole lap with my heart banging in my chest. Another PB, but not enough for first in class when I checked the points. However at the end of each race the points have to be adjusted according to the handicap and to my joy the extra points were just enough for first in MG class and overall!
What a year! A lot of fun and commitment helped me improve from the previous year when I finished 20th. I met great like-minded people which made the experience all the more special.
Finally I must thank Mike Rolls and his family for their help and support in making the MG Midget so competitive over the year.
Ben's AH Sprite head has now been refreshed and is ready to be fitted.
Another customer preparing his MG Midget for Hillclimbing etc as part of the MGCC Speed Championship for this year.
Some Racing Moments Captured
Ben's last race of the season at Castle Combe finished with a bang but unfortunately not a good one.
Having done 2 good practice runs, he went to the start line for the first timed run and as he went to go the car came to an abrupt stop and it seemed it was either the diff. or the halfshaft that had gone.
It was pushed out of the way and he was told that it would have to stay there until the end of the day but another competitor ie Steve Luscombe had packed a spare halfshaft with gaskets etc and with some persuasion from him directly to the clerk of the course he and several others including the clerk pushed Ben back to the paddock so we could have a look in case it could be fixed before the next run.
Steve was quick to get the parts from his car with axle stands etc so Mike and Ben set to work to look at the problem but after removing the wheels and checking the halfshafts it turned out to be the diff which meant game over, even though it was not the best end it still was a really good day.
We would like to say a really big thank you to everyone that helped and showed there support and especially to Steve Luscombe, the Clerk of the course Nick Wood, John Tandy, Jamie Fisher-Pearson and everyone else who pushed Ben's car back. It goes to show that this is a great motorsport and the support from fellow competitors and organisers is second to none.
Now we have to wait for next season to start and personally we can not wait.
Now all results are in for the season Ben has won 1st in Class in the MGCC Southern Championship. Missed out on 1st in class in the Nationals due to the fail at Castle Combe but great hopes for next year.
Great run at Wiscombe, fantastic weather, great venue, just pipped at the post on the last run with John Tandy and Ben beating the record for their class and thank you pheasant for crossing after the finish line and not before.
Managed a second in class with a 45.82 which was a P.B.
Ben at Gurston - photo is courtesy of Steve Lister
Best run at Gurston at 38.85 with a class win and new record set for my class in the MG Car club championship
What a great event at Shelsley on Sunday, the weather was very kind and stayed dry all day. There were 25 MGCC entrants on the day so great turn out.
Ben was first in class for both practice runs and the first timed run and beat his PB but on the last run of the day he was knocked down to second by James Thacker who did a cracking time, it was a great battle and times were close for many competitors with only a fraction of a second splitting them.
Video shows Ben's in car last run.
As always, a massive thank you to organisers and Marshalls.
First time with the Woolbridge Motor Club at Manor Farm on Saturday, great group and despite the weather being a little changeable it was a great day, several PB's were gained and Ben managed 1st in class. Thank you to all organisers and Marshalls.
A nice selection of cars at Prescott on the 25th May.
Ben at the Start at Prescott
A great weekend at Prescott, Ben took 2 seconds off his previous time and came third in his class, fantastic venue with some amazing cars and as always well organised.
Ben got second in class at Wiscombe on the 18th, great event but a little damp later in the day which made conditions a little slippy, Prescott to do this weekend.
Ben's best run at Wiscombe on Saturday 18th May
Big congratulations to Jamie Fisher-Pearson who one first in class last weekend at Wiscombe. Not forgetting Ben and Jamie will be at Wiscombe competing this Saturday the 18th of May.
Good luck to all competitors and lets hope the weather holds.
Here is a great picture of Jamie Fisher-Pearson in his road going Midget @ Gurston Hill climb, he is achieving PB this year at all events so far.
Ben managed first in class and record for his class today at Goodwood by taking a brilliant 4 seconds off his best time from last year., a very hot day so thank you to the organisers and marshalls.
We are again helping to sponsoring Will Sharpe of Wayside Adhesives, he is a exceptional driver and we wish him well for the new race season.
We will update with his progress.
Ben's test day at Gurston went well on Sunday, the clutch and gearbox performed beautifully but found he had too much brake at the rear which then gave him a moment on his last run. An excellent day and a big thank you to all at Gurston for a well organised day as usual.
Awards were for First in Class National Series Racing Specials, MG Car Club Speed Championship Midget Register Trophy, Speed Championship Windmill & Lewis Trophy Southern Series 3rd overall and the Scrutineers award for the second year in a row.
MGCC Speed Championship awards for 2018, read out by John Wilman and presented to Ben by Motor Journalist Graham Robson.Now getting ready for the new season.
Ben's car caused some interest on the Yeovil Car Club Stand .
The car is now all back together and ready to go on display at the Classic Car show taking place at the Bath and West Showground.
It will be on the Yeovil Car Club Stand as requested by the club, Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th.
Precision Clutch in Henstridge who kindly help sponsor Ben have put together this heavy duty clutch for his hill climbing sprite, it looks great and a big thank you to Julian and Ken Hunt for sorting out the manufacturing and machining
Customer, and fellow racer, Jamie Fisher-Pearson has just fitted a hardtop to his car ready for the beginning of the Race season.
Another customer getting his MG Midget ready for hillclimbing as part of the MGCC Speed Championship
Foggy start which caused a long delay and convoy run instead of a first practice run but once the fog cleared 2nd practice went well for Ben and then on 1st timed run he broke his class record again which he already held and managed a 90.51 so very very happy.
On last run he wanted to beat this again but spun so slower time and at this point as all were running late the low sun became a bit of a problem.
The final batch were not allowed out as after a delay for fluid on the track time did not allow so some did not get a second timed run but a big thank you to all the Marshall's for staying on so late and all other competitors for a great final event.
Video shows Ben's best run of the day, you can tell he's pleased by his reaction at the end.
Ben had an excellent weekend, firstly at Wiscombe on Saturday when after a slight spin on second practice managed a cracking time on his last run of 47.27 then at Gurston where he came first in class breaking the class record in a time of 39.71.
It was a close fought thing with Richard Withers doing a time of 39.95.
Big thank you to Marshalls, Organisers, Competitors and all the support he received.
Ben Rolls had his best run at Castle Hill climb on the 8th July 2018. First in class for the MG Car Cub Championship with a time of 31.39.
Best run at Wiscombe setting Ben’s new personal best at 47.27 with MG car club, second in class.