Walter Hayes Trophy, 2016
Programme: ‘Magic Moments’
courtesy and copyright of James Beckett
The Walter Hayes Trophy has produced some memorable moments in its history. James Beckett reminisces
TEAM USA SCORE FIRST VICTORY
The Team USA Scholarship squad is a welcome visitor to the Walter Hayes Trophy every year, and scored a memorable maiden victory in the competition on its debut at the ‘Home of British Motor Racing’ in 2008.
The ‘star spangled banner’ arrived in Britain for the end-of-season trophy races with two highly-talented young drivers in the form of Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly. A spectacular drive at Brands Hatch saw Newgarden triumph in the Formula Ford Festival, and just two weeks later the duo were making their Silverstone debuts, and they didn’t disappoint.
Progressing through the cut and thrust of the qualifying rounds, Newgarden and Daly lined-up for the final, that took place in fading light and heavy rain. Newgarden took control during the opening laps, and the Kentucky-based youngster looked set to secure a Formula Ford trophy season double until an error at Brooklands just after half distance saw him drive through the gravel. Scotland’s Graham Carroll took over at the head of the pack, but just a few laps later he also made a mistake at Luffield putting him out and handing the lead to Daly.
This time the leader didn’t make a mistake, and Daly held on to win and score victory for Team USA and receive the famous trophy from Elizabeth Hayes, widow of Walter, in a presentation that took place in the BRDC Clubhouse.
CUNNINGHAM WINS HEAT 1
164 cars lined-up to contest the 2005 running of the Walter Hayes Trophy, and as rain began to fall prior to the start of the event’s opening heat, anticipation was high for some superb Formula Ford action. Spectators at the track that day were not to be disappointed.
Neil Cunningham, making a return to Formula Ford from the world of GT and sportscar racing, was one of the stars of the event, and he grabbed the Sheshon Racing Van Diemen RF78 he was driving by its throat and produced a Formula Ford 1600 masterclass. Taking the lead on the run between Brooklands and Luffield towards the end of the opening lap, the New Zealand ace then proceeded to drive away from more modern machinery in conditions that suited both his ageing Van Diemen, that he lovingly christened ‘Black Beauty’, and also his flamboyant driving style.
Track conditions improved as the race progressed and Cunningham’s lead began to be reduced by the chasing pack, but the combination of his vast experience and love of racing at Silverstone, a circuit he called home, was enough to ensure victory and kick-start a spectacular weekend of Walter Hayes Trophy action in very fine style.
CARROLL WINS BARNSTORMER
Graham Carroll emerged victorious last year, winning a final that producing thrills and spills aplenty. The Scottish driver looked set for victory in 2008 until a mistake cost him the title late in the race, but this time when handed the chance to win, he made no mistake to become a worthy winner of Formula Ford’s most prestigious title and trophy.
Well-known for its racing in torrential rain, the 2015 Walter Hayes Trophy saw Silverstone bathed in warm early winter sunshine, and the Grand Final roared away from the grid with a capacity thirty-six cars all eager for success. A huge slip-streaming battle ensued, with all of the event’s major contenders in the thick of the action.
However, an incident involving Matt Rivett at Woodcote saw race officials stop the race just as local favourite, Michael Moyers, had made his way to the head of the pack. On the restart the leading gaggle of cars traded blows like heavyweights in a prize fight, and at the start of the second lap the first hammer blow was dealt when Moyers was sent rolling out of contention in a spectacular crash at Copse Corner. The race continued, and Van Diemen mounted Carroll made sure that this time he would make no mistakes and raced to victory – crossing the finishline narrowly ahead of three-time winner Peter Dempsey and Oliver White. Following the event, Dempsey was removed from the results due to a technical infringement, elevating White to second and Australian racer, Scott Andrews to the final podium placing.
FOSTER SCORES FIRST VICTORY
Joey Foster became the first three-time winner of the Walter Hayes Trophy in 2005 when he drove his Don Hardman-entered Marque Cars Reynard to victory in rain-soaked final. But the story of the WHT could have been oh so different if Foster hadn’t been encouraged to race in the 2003 event, the first multi-heat running of the competition, by Bury Mason. Foster had recently won the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, and after a difficult debut in the Formula Renault Winter Series at Donington, was approached by Mason with the suggestion that he should tackle the new, and exciting, version of ‘The Hayes’.
Foster accepted the challenge and quickly agreed a deal with his former team-boss, Hardman, to launch an assault on the competition. Surviving a scare in the heats, that saw the Reynard beached in the gravel at Brooklands, Foster proceeded through to the Grand Final where he lined-up alongside a similar Reynard driven by Mallory Park ace, Peter Daly.
The duo battled side-by-side throughout the race, charging around Woodcote in awful conditions and zero visibility with wheels interlocked on numerous occasions. At the fall of the flag is was Foster who was ahead, only just, to claim victory and start a run of victories that would earn him the original Walter Hayes Trophy for keeps. Peter Daly was an unlucky loser, with David Leslie scooping an emotional and well-deserved third with his Royale RP24.
Following his death earlier this year, it is somewhat fitting that the winner of the opening heat of this weekend’s Walter Hayes Trophy will be presented with The Bury Mason Memorial Trophy, a trophy that will remember the man who encouraged Joey Foster, the event’s first three-time winner, to join the party thirteen years ago!