1929 Frazer Nash Super Sports
Prior to arriving at Thruxton Circuit in the ’Nash, the last time I’d spun a car was maybe 15 years ago. It wasn’t a pleasant experience: a left-hand-drive lorry pulled out on me on a dual-carriageway as I was overtaking, and it punted my 1986 Audi 100 into a complete 360. Possibly more than one rotation — I wasn’t keeping count — but, by amazing good fortune, there was a very low kerb and a wide verge, and the car pirouetted right around the lorry, bounced onto the grass and came to a halt. The nearside front door was stoved in, but the rest of the car was undamaged and I later bought a replacement door in the same colour and swapped them.
Going fora spin
So, while braver souls might suggest that the best way to explore the in extremis handling limits of the ’Nash is to try opposite-locking around a wet roundabout, memories of that adventure (and the fact that the ’Nash isn’t my car) made me inclined to try it out on a proper skid pan. And, having just done my ARDS (Association of Racing Drivers’ Schools) course at Thruxton to obtain a race licence, I knew just the place.
Even better, m’great mate James Cameron — CEO of Mission Motorsport, former tank commander (seriously) and current racing instructor — volunteered to show me the ropes.
I was keen for him to have a go in the ’Nash, so it seemed a fair swap. Thruxton’s Lome Mitchener kindly put the skid pan at our disposal, so on a cold but bright February morning we rendezvoused outside and Lome fired up the water sprinklers.
The skid pan is shaped in plan like a musical note — the ‘blob’ of the note being the circular pan, the ‘upright’ a straight on which cones can be set out for slalom tests and so on. The ’Nash has a driven rear beam axle with no differential, so it understeers as readily as it oversteers, depending on your approach. You’d think, once you’ve kicked out the tail of the ’Nash, it will be pretty easy to maintain in a drift but, as James explained, the skidpan is actually on a very gentle slope, so parts of it dry out at a different rate to others. Keeping the oversteer constant is a real challenge.
Of course, I spun the car several times, which reminded me of how disorientating that can be — but it was great practice, and I think James enjoyed himself, too. The 150-mile drive to Thruxton and back, on a bright, cold February day, was just as exhilarating. The ’Nash can’t half shift!
The reason for this sudden burst of enthusiasm for self improvement is that the ’Nash’s owner, Simon Blakeney-Edwards, insisted I should enter the VSCC’s Pomeroy Trophy, colloquially known as The Pom. Traditionally held at Silverstone, it consists of a series of special tests and culminates in 40 minutes lapping the Grand Prix circuit, the results decided by a complicated handicapping system.
Frazer Nashes have traditionally done very well in The Pom so, as Octanes editor James (himself a Pom veteran) pointed out, I’ve really set myself up for a fall here. You’ll be able to read just how badly I did in the next issue.
To find out how you can benefit from Thruxton s skid pan, visit thruxtonracing.co.uk/skidpan.
‘Of course, I spun the car several times, which reminded me of how disorientating that can be’
This page and opposite Having scored his race licence at Thruxton, Mark returned for some skid pan training with Mission Motorsport CEO James Cameron — seen here enjoying the 'Nash, at bottom