Two-time HSCC Historic FF1600 champion Callum Grant impressed the wider Formula Ford 1600 community with his first races in more contemporary machinery at the Walter Hayes Trophy.
The 23-year-old Bolton driver drove a 1991 Van Diemen RF91 belonging to Roger Arnold at Silverstone, winning the Janet Cesar Trophy for 1982-’98 cars and finishing 15th and as the best Pre-’99 finisher in the Grand Final.
Heat 5 was the first time he had driven the car in competition, having previously only raced in the 1971 Merlyn Mk20 in which he won the 2013 and ’16 Historic FF1600 titles, and he was unsure what to expect from a 1991-spec machine.
“I got in this [Van Diemen] and thought: no, it’s not for me. Then suddenly, everybody’s coming up and looking at it and asking how long I’ve been driving it. I said two days. ‘Well, you’re going a bit quick!’
“Everybody running these cars have been coming up and saying ‘what are you doing to it?’. We don’t know ourselves, we just keep plugging away at it.”
FF1600 stalwart and three-time WHT winner Joey Foster was impressed with Grant’s performance in their heat and was unafraid to say so.
“That made me smile,” said Grant. “Joey’s one of the best Formula Ford racers of all time. So to have someone like that make a comment like that, I was quite happy about it.”
Grant was quick to point out that the historic classes are a great training ground for transferable racecraft skills, and that he would like to see some National drivers taking part.
“The problem with historics is that everybody thinks it’s not as quick. But Cameron Jackson came here last year and was fastest in testing, everyone was watching him. He’s just won the [Historic FF1600] championship with us.”
In the BRSCC Avon Tyres National FF1600 championship, the two classes are Post-’89 and Pre-’90, and this year’s title was won by a car from 1999. A 1989 car finished fourth on two occasions in the hands of Alan Davidson.
“If Joey [Foster] was in historics, I think he’d get a run for his money. I don’t think he’d get away with as much as everybody thinks. I’m sure that if he announced he wanted to do historics, somebody would give him a car to drive.
“We’re building another Merlyn at the moment, but that’s going for sale. We can’t afford to race it. But if Joey wants to buy it, he’s more than welcome. He can have a test in my car any day.”