An excellent entry was obtained by the BRSCC for the Archie Scott Brown Memorial Trophy Race, a qualifying round for the Shell Super Oil Championship, and despite several non-starters there were enough cars to run a two heats and a final format.
Many drivers took advantage of unofficial practice on Saturday but qualifying proper took place on Sunday morning and for the Heat 1 runners wet tyres were the order of the day. By the end of the session it was Alan Jones in pole position, his Multiglide GRD over a second quicker than the Brabham BT38s of Peter Hull and Randy Lewis. Row 2 saw the Team MD5 GRD of F Ford champion Ian Taylor leading the GRD of Roger Williamson. Taylor’s car was the one driven by Barrie Maskell at Mallory, whilst Williamson set his time in only 4 laps as his engine broke on the fifth. An excellent sixth fastest in only his fifth ever circuit race was Jo Vonlanthen in his GRD, sharing the third row with the Swiss newcomer were the Chevron of Chris Skeaping and John MacDonald in the ex-Alan Jones BT38. Further down the grid, lower than normally expected, were the Ensign of Rikki von Opel and the March of Jean-Pierre Jarier. Martin Howse was a non-starter after hitting one of the unyielding Snetterton banks while right at the back and taking it easy on its debut was Mike Catlow in the Elden Mk9.
By the time the runners for Heat 2 come out on the track conditions had improved and the track was dry resulting in much faster times. Mike Walker took the fastest time to place his Ensign on pole with Tony Brise in his GRD and, going very well, Stan Matthews in another GRD alongside. The second row saw Colin Vandervell’s GRD heading the Brabham of Damien Magee, the Irishman was forced to replace the Novamotor with a Vegantune (John Macdonald’s spare) following a blow-up. The third row was headed by the GRD of Neil Ginn from the Merlyn of Hakan Dalqvist and an engine-troubled Bob Evans. Other drivers with problems were Mike Wilds with a blown engine, Russell Wood who non-started after a shunt and Brendan McInerney who only managed four laps before his engine dropped a valve.
It was still dry when the Heat 1 runners lined up on the grid and as the starter dropped the flag Hull jumped into the lead followed by Jones and von Opel who took advantage of the pit lane exit. First retirement was posted by John Macdonald at Riches when his drive shaft broke. By the end of the first lap it was Jones from Hull hotly pursued by Williamson, Taylor was fourth ahead of a big bunch with Lewis, Skeaping and von Opel to the fore. Williamson moved up to second on lap 2 and took the lead on the following lap but Jones wasn’t about to give up and for the next three laps he sat on Williamson’s tail. Williamson gradually eked out a lead helped by a speed advantage down the straight and at the end of the ten laps he was 5.2 seconds ahead of Jones. Rikki von Opel had an excellent race and shrugged off the attentions of the bunch and soon hauled in Taylor and Hull moving up to third on lap 6. Ian Taylor found his engine loosing power and he gradually fell back to finish eighth. As Taylor dropped back Jarier was moving forward and over the closing laps was involved in a tense battle for fourth with Hull, at the finish it was the Frenchman ahead of the Kiwi. Rousselot finished sixth behind Hull and ahead of Lamplough and the disappointed Taylor. Other retirements besides Macdonald were the ever unlucky Chris Skeaping with an overheating engine and Musetti with a broken clutch.
It was Brise who took the lead at the start of heat two as Walker was distracted by a moments hesitancy on the starter’s part. It was still Brise at the end of the first lap from Matthews, Walker, Evans, Vandervell, Andersson, Magee, Ginn, Wilds, Dalqvist, Dötsch and Kuwashima. Brise began to pull out a lead on lap 2 whilst the Ensigns of Matthews, Walker and Vandervell were opening up a gap over Anderson, Evans and Magee. Further back Wilds was going well and had just passed Ginn who lead the rest of the field.
Walker passed Matthews on lap 3 and started to close on Brise at 0.5 seconds a lap but Brise steadied the gap at around four seconds until lap 7 when the Ensign was suddenly on the tail of the GRD. Brise had indulged in a brief off at Riches when he encountered another car’s oil, he managed to recover just ahead of Walker who, with an eye to the final, decided to take things carefully and followed Brise home to the finish. Matthews just took third from Vandervell, both drivers sharing the same race time with Wilds finishing a good fifth after Magee lost three laps with a broken throttle cable. Andersson took sixth just ahead of Dahlqvist with Ginn next after passing a down-on-power Evans on the last lap. Retirements were Kuwashima after a huge off at Coram avoiding a spinning Marazzie who himself had a shunt at Russell two laps later.
Everybody who had finished in the heats qualified for the final and the grid positions were decided by alternate finishing positions due to heat 2 being much slower because of the oily conditions. Tony Brise got his start absolutely right and at the end of the first lap he led from Williamson, Jones, Vandervell, von Opel, Jarier, Matthews, Walker, Wilds, Hull, Evans, Lamplough, Rousselot and the rest. Lap 2 saw Williamson push his GRD to the front and he and Brise began to pull away from the rest, however all Williamson’s efforts to pull away from Brise were in vain and on lap 5 it was the Montessa GRD back in front.
Behind these two Jones was leading a group consisting of Jarier, Vandervell, von Opel and Walker whilst already out with damaged engines were Evans, Taylor and Dalqvist and Musetti’s clutch had failed again. Lap 10 and Williamson was in front again but Roger was suffering with locking brakes into the hairpin due to the front end getting light because of adjustments made to the split rear wing after the heat. Brise went ahead again on lap 11 but the two cars were inseparable, both drivers taking turns to set new lap records. Although Brise was able to pull away a couple of times by about a second every time Williamson clawed his way back again.
On lap 22 the two leaders came across some backmarkers and in the confusion Williamson went ahead again at Riches only to be repassed around the back of the circuit. For the last six laps it was Brise leading every time until the last lap when Williamson drafted Brise all the way down the Norwich Straight pulling out at the last second and with two wheels on the grass he outbraked Brise and took the lead. As the two cars headed towards the Esses Brise drew level with Williamson but realising he was on the wrong line fell back again. Both cars opposite locked their way around Coram with Williamson holding the tight inside line and keeping his nose in front as they both hurtled towards Russell. Williamson braked a little early for Russell but kept the tight line forcing Brise to go wider and Roger held the lead along the straight. Brise dived for the inside as the cars passed the pits and the Montessa GRD inched its way up to the Wheatcroft car but there was not enough time and Williamson just scrapped home the winner although both cars shared the same race time, Brise having the consolation of a new lap record.
The rest of the field were unsurprisingly relegated to a supporting role and Walker finished a lonely third ahead of Vandervell, these two pulling away from the other runners on lap 7. Walker gradually pulled away from Vandervell and both drivers had rather a lonely race as they became detached from the other runners. Of the others Mike Tyrrell had a nasty shunt at Riches and von Opel spun in avoidance causing his radiators to get blocked which caused his retirement a couple of laps later. Jarier also left the track in avoiding Tyrrell and fell to the back of the field, he then drove very quickly to haul his way back up to 11th at the finish. Alan Jones retired on lap 10 with a blown engine while Rousselot and Matthews were having a good dice until the Frenchman spun into the bank at Russell on lap 13, Matthews continued in a good fifth but his engine gave out on lap 22. Mike Wilds eventually took fifth although he was very lucky as his engine failed as he raced for the finishing line and he only just fended off Conny Andersson. However the race was really about two men and their GRDs, everyone else was racing for the lower placings.