Competing in Spedeworth’s Pre-80 National Banger event, Midhurst’s ‘Gentleman’ Jack France returned with the trophy after a stunning performance.
France travelled up to the Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich, with his Datsun Estate on the back of his truck, determined to make the long drive worthwhile.
Among some very special entries, including a 1969 Daimler DS 420 limousine, that in a previous life had driven former Russian President Mikael Gorbachev around London in 1984, the Datsun may not have been the prettiest example on show but it was one of the most efficient around the wide oval raceway.
With so many rare and unusual cars on track, the promoters felt it more prudent to enforce the more sedate ‘nudge and spin’ rules … at least for the first couple of races.
From the start France was on the pace, powering from the back of the grid. In the first race he was held up a few times by a couple of pedestrian Mercedes, but being persistent he achieved sixth place.
With a few adjustments made in the pits to the engine, when it came out for the second race, the estate with its somewhat dated plum-coloured paintwork, was visibly quicker. Using all his experience, France finished in the top three.
Encouraged by this result, he and his trusted right-hand man, mechanic Rob Rice, set about ensuring the car was set up as best it could be for the final.
The time spent was clearly worthwhile as at the drop of the green flag, France was off to a flyer. After three laps he hit the front, chased by the Mercedes of Mid Sussex driver Tim James.
As the laps counted down, France was just able to hold him off to take the win.
France will be back in action again over the next few weeks at Spedeworth’s Aldershot and Arlington Raceways.