Woodbridge Speed Trial 2012
ARTICLE BY RICHARD PHILLIPS
PHOTOS BY PAUL FISHWICK
For the tenth, and possibly the last time, the Pied Piper played his tune in Suffolk on Saturday 21st July. From all over the country slumbering beasts awoke and made their way to RAF Woodbridge. A disused 2.2 mile runway was their destination, to see just how fast they could actually go - with highly accurate Laser Speed equipment strategically located to record it for posterity.
The Piper (aka Phil Judd) clearly has magical powers as the continual rain of the previous 40 days finally stopped for the day to allow said beasts to stretch their legs properly. This also happened in 2010 and 2008, with blue sky and sun replacing grey clouds and strong winds. Perhaps we should ask Phil to schedule the England Cricket Test matches too…
The Speedtrial, sponsored jointly this year by Wolfrace Wheels and SNG Barratt, brings 45 Jaguars and 10 guest cars to the RAF base where they are marshalled superbly by Phil, his wife Dawn and a team of very professional volunteers. The cars ranged this year from a 1951 Mk5 Saloon to the very latest XKR, Lamborghini and Aston but the star of the show is always the fabled XJ220, this one being a classic silver one belonging to Don Law. I had chosen to bring a stripped-out Aston Martin DB7 Vantage. Well, it does have Jaguar DNA with that XJS platform.
After the 9:15am driver briefing and with the correct wristbands, I presented my “brick”, a card with my car details on, to the manifest and waited for my first run. This gave me time to wander the paddock and get to know the cars and drivers a little better. I hoped to get up to 8 runs during the course of the day and so it proved, each run a little faster. Eventually, with my colleague Stephen Cato, we had removed the rear wing, taped up the wipers and were recording 165+mph runs consistently.
Tom Smith of TCS Performance was on hand with a modern mobile Rolling Road and was able to tune and confirm BHP of cars and hence was able to ensure they were in fine fettle prior to them going out on the runway.
The Mk5 was owned by Ed Abbott, previously a Principal Engineer with Jaguar in Coventry, so a genuine “old hand”. He was thrilled with his 91.32mph. There were a couple of Mk2s and then a wonderfully eclectic range of E-Types, from Phil’s own sublime Low-Drag to an extraordinary turbo-charged model which clocked a scarcely credible (and surely rather scary) 170.57mph. A trio of XJS with David Cox posting the fastest time of 156.38mph followed along with a lovely D-type replica which had a few cooling issues but still recorded 119.30mph. The saloons were well-represented with everything from a Daimler Double Six (recording an impressive 166.51mph) to the latest S-Types and X350s. The beautiful XKRs could also hold their heads high in such good company with one setting a new 171.80mph record. Unfortunately a 5 to 10mph headwind meant the top speeds were all down a little.
Peter Stevens the designer of the XJR-15 was on hand to try and get a few more mph out of Don Law’s XJ 220 by doing some on site aerodynamic modifications!
Astons were well-represented with 3 models, along with 2 Ferraris and 3 GT40s. The Lamborghini of Paul Hendrie took the non-Jaguar honours with 185.57mph. Not too shabby for a soft top!
Lunch was held at 1pm and during the one hour break an excellent hog roast was enjoyed. The day was all about heroes – in our case Help For Heroes - and we were lucky to have five military men join us as our guests. We gave runs in the cars to various wounded soldiers who had come for the day from Headley Court Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre. These brave people battling against terrible injuries were an inspiration to us all. It was my privilige and pleasure to give Luke Hardy of 3 Para a trip up the strip in the Aston and we hit 167.50mph. His smile at the end was moving beyond words. Phil took Dean Mullarkey also from 3 Para in the Low Drag achieving 162mph.
A fund-rasing exercise produced a tremendous cheque for £1097.97 for Help For Heroes, which was presented at 3pm during the Prize Giving. SSgt Rory Campbell kindly presented the prize for Fastest Car which was taken, as was only right, by the XJ220 with 197.88mph. What a spendid machine it is and still able to produce the goods 20 years later. Most Enthusiastic Entrant went to Malcolm Gallichan who came all the way from Jersey with his XJR 6, and Car of the Day went to Phil’s own Low-Drag E-Type. It was not a fix, as he was keen to point out! It was only appropriate that Phil was rewarded, as the effort put in to make this day actually run efficiently and smoothly is immense and he, Dawn and the team deserve all our thanks.
We left for home around 5pm, content in the knowledge that our cars had been well and truly exercised. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday in July at such a truly unique event.