“Spridget" racing heaven, aka the new Weslake Cup, brought the 75th Members’ Meeting alive with the sound of some very highly tuned A-series engines…
MAR 21st 2017
Why the brilliant Weslake Cup was a family affair
And one person very happy with Goodwood’s decision to include a race just for Sprite and Midget sports and GT derivatives was Shaun Rainford of CCK. “I cut my racing teeth in the Halfords Midget Challenge of the 1990s so it’s great to see a race devoted to nothing but these great cars.”
It was also something of a family moment – lining up alongside Shaun on the grid was his son Charles…
It was the first time the Weslake Cup has featured on an MM bill, the race named after Harry Weslake the wizard engine builder/tuner who designed the cylinder heads for the A-series engine for the Morris 1000 and Mini – and a heck of a lot more besides.
Including, of course, all the little A-series powered sports and GT cars of the late 1950s and ‘60s. Cars like the 1965 Lenham GT that Shaun Rainford was driving at MM, and the 1964 Austin-Healey Lenham Le Mans Sprite son Charles was racing.
“All the cars in the Weslake Cup are Midget or Sprite derivatives, all front engine, rear drive with A-series engines. They are not the fastest cars at MM but last year in my car I did 1minute 35 seconds, not so slow.
“We at CCK have done a lot with cars like this over the years so it’s fantastic to have a race all to ourselves rather than having to share with the A-series Minis and Minors.”
The Weslake Cup field indeed made an evocative sight for lovers of ‘60s British sports car – as well as presenting a stern memory test with some of the more obscure models…
When, for example, was the last time you saw a Turner Mk1 (driven by no less than Darren Turner, no relation)? Or a WSM Sprite, an Ashley GT or Ogle SX1000? In comparison the Rochdale Olympic was positively mainstream!
With Shaun and Charles seventh and eighth on the grid for this big race for little GTs, they were expecting sparks to fly when the flag dropped – and hoping for a dry race. “It was very greasy out there for practice. My car has the quarter elliptic springs rather than the semi elliptics… and it’s much less forgiving as a result,” says Shaun.
Maybe, but still not half as unforgiving as Shaun’s other steed at MM this year… the mighty Chevrolet-engined Cheetah that he was driving with the car’s owner in the Graham Hill Trophy.
A-series Sprite or Chevrolet-engined Cobra crusher… MM racing extremes don’t get much clearer than that. We suspect Harry Weslake – who himself went from A-series heads to the mighty Eagle-Weslake V12 that took Dan Gurney to victory in the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix – would heartily approve!
Photography by Jayson Fong and Nick Dungan
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