Sunday, 19 May 2013

Ten Minutes with.....Paulo Carcasci

Ten Minutes with 1985 works Van Diemen star, Paulo Carcasci of Brazil.

HoFF1600 - You raced in Karts before FF1600, how long was your Kart career?
PC - I raced go karts from 1977 to 1984.
You came over to the UK in 1985, did you know that you would be racing against Hill, Blundell, Herbert, Gachot etc?
I had no idea about any of the drivers I would meet in F Ford. In fact I had little idea about F Ford itself.
Who was the hardest guy to race against in 1985?
They were all great drivers, and I had battled with all of them. Gachot was probably the craziest, Blundell fastest, Hill that year was not very strong in my view, Herbert did not have a good car (until the Festival....). We still had Ratzenberger, Bancroft, it was great , I learned a lot!
Which circuit was your favourite?
Brands GP
Which corner was your favourite or not?!
Favourite - Bomb Hole (Snetterton)
Worst - Copse (Silverstone)
How much pressure was there racing for the Van Diemen factory team?
A lot! Mark was fast, and had 1 year experience ahead of me, so I had to learn fast !!! First races were very hard, but when Mark left they gave me a better Minister helped!!!!
What are your memories of the 1985 Festival and how it ended for you (and Bertrand and Jonathan.....?!)
I have obviously mixed memories about the Festival. To get pole was fantastic, to crash, well..... unavoidable, it was a shame. I had a great car, and it was possible to win, I met Johnny some 10 years ago and he was still joking about 1985 Festival!! He was the only other driver to lap below 49s, it was really great racing and I think there were close to 200 entries...
Was there a driver in FF1600 in 1985 that should of got to F1 but didn't?
I think you get into F1 or you do not. I do not believe in should or deserved.....
Where do you live and work now and do you still race at all?
In 1997 I raced go karts (won a Brazilian championship) and in 2009 I return again but in the shifter class (won the brazilian championship), I have not raced since.
I have been coaching the Draco Renault World Series drivers plus some other Brazilian drivers in Italy F3 and Abarth, plus Franzoni in Renault Alps.

Thanks to Paulo for his thoughts and memories from back in 1985, it certainly was a competitive year in UK 1600!

Ten Minutes with.....Chris Hall

Ten Minutes with.....ex Jamun works driver and Brands Hatch meister, Chris Hall.

HoFF1600 - When and where was your 1600 debut and what were you driving?

CH - Snetterton 1978, Arrow (one off car built by a guy called Ed Johnson from Purley). Wrote the car off in my first race when the suspension broke!!

You drove for Jamun almost exclusively, which chassis was the best?

The Jamun M91. Won Champion of Brands, Winter Series & 7th in Festival with that car.

Jamun and Ray must have been big Brands rivals, is that true?!

Definitely. Really respected Bert Ray. Bert had some tough drivers with Andy Charsley & Andy Stapley.

Who was your biggest rival in the CoB?

On a regular basis Andy Charsley in the Ray plus before that my old mate Rick Shortle in the Getem and Reynard.

Can you describe your favourite race?

It was 1992 the weekend before the Festival. I believe it was called the International Trophy race at Brands Hatch. I won by passing Jan Magnussen and Jonathan McGall around the outside of Paddock!! Of course it was wet. Jan went on to win the festival.

You raced nationally in 1992, just how tough was it being in the only Jamun vs the might of the factory teams?

Incredibly tough but on several occasions we were a top five finisher, with a best of 3rd at Donington.

Who was the toughest, most forceful driver you went up against?

I have to say Dave Coyne. Only had one real chance to actually race wheel to wheel with Dave and it was at Brands. Again the weekend before the Festival in 1991 ( It may have been 1990?). I tried every trick in the book to pass Dave and got alongside once or twice, but Dave had me covered very forcefully but also very fairly. He won and I finished 2nd rubbing his gearbox with my nose!

Your favourite Festival story/memory?

It has to be when I finished 7th in 1991. I actually thought I was going to win the Festival that year. I started the final on the second row, I think alongside either Russell Ingall or Warren Hughes. Made a decent start but was actually being held up by Warren. At that time I was in 4th. I went for the outside line around Druids and of course the outside was damp. Got sideways and lost 3 positions in a flash! Just could not recover from that mistake as the field was so tight and competitive.

And finally...

What are you up to these days?

Living in Daytona Beach area, Florida and still racing. I do a lot of private coaching around the USA, and with one of my clients race a 2012 Porsche GT3 Cup car. I pinch myself now and then that I earn a decent living from this sport and there seems no end to my career. Since I have been in the USA I have raced NASCAR, ALMS, sprint cars, sports cars, formula cars and you name it. Still love it all............

My thanks got to Chris for sharing his time and thoughts with me, for more information on the man himself, look up

Ten Minutes with.....Jonathan Bancroft.

Ten Minutes with.....1985 Festival runner up, Jonathan Bancroft.
Jonathan was a perennial front runner in both Junior and Senior UK FF championships in 84/85 and he progressed through to be a real threat in British F3 and British F3000 in later years.

HoFF1600 - Where was your first car race and what where you driving?

JB - Spartan FF1600 at Brands Hatch.

How tough was the racing in the 1600 Junior Championships?

Good learning ground for senior FF1600, competitive at the top.

Who were your biggest rivals in the Junior c/ships?

Mark Blundell, Johnny Herbert, Perry McCarthy, Miles Johnstone.

How big was the step up to the senior championships?

Senior FF1600 had strength in depth, drivers from around the world – think I won the first race of the season so step up was ok!

Who was the best driver you raced against in FF1600?

Johnny Herbert, always fast and fair, not always in the best car though.

How do you remember the inter constructor rivalry between Van Diemen/Reynard/Quest etc?

Drove both Van Diemen and Reynard, Van Diemen was better in 84/85.

What do you remember of the 1985 Festival, and how it came to an end...!!?

Very competitive and tough with a few big accidents! Won semi-final and came second in final behind Herbert.

Which circuit was your favourite?

Cadwell Park.

Which was your favourite corner if any?

Double right sequence after pit straight, left kink...can’t remember the names...(Mansfield followed by Charlies - Ed)

Of all the guys you raced alongside in 1600, who would you say should have possibly gone further with their careers?

Paulo Carcasci.

What are you up to nowadays and do you still race at all?

Own sports marketing agency, Sports Media International, no racing for many years.

Thanks to Jonathan for racking his brain, below is a link to his business that now takes up most of his time....

Ten Minutes with.....Rick Morris.


Today's subject/victim is "Mr Formula Ford" in many people's eyes, Rick Morris. A man who started racing 40 years ago and still in love with the sport.

HoFF1600 - Which year did you start in 1600, in what car and where was it?

RM - 1972 I think in a Hawke DL2B. Actually thinking back it was a Motor Racing Stables Lotus in a school race. Both at Brands Hatch.

What was your favourite circuit to race on in 1600 and why?

Brands Club just from Silverstone original GP and Kyalami. Brands is superficially easy but that last fraction is kind of difficult. It has so much character.

You have driven many chassis over the years, which was your best and worst?

The best 1600 was probably the 1981/82 Royale RP29 but all the Royale's were good providing they were set up as per the factory settings. The Hawke DL17 was a pain as during development we were plagued by chassis flex and poor installation affecting the block stiffness.

How intense was the Royale/Van Diemen rivalry?

Bloody hell it was fraught at times but I never had a problem with any of their drivers apart from Senna who was a bit of a ***** at times until he moved to FF2000 and became a friend. Ralph and Angie were always pleasant.

Can you pick a favourite race from your career?

1981 at Silverstone taking Senna on the last corner of the last lap for a win and new lap record. What a corner that chicane was in a 1600!

What is your favourite Festival memory/story?

The Festival's have been a bit of a disappointment being so close so many times. One highlight has to be getting a 4th in the 1600 Festival in my fifties in an old RP21 driving for my old friend Ian Schofield. We didn't expect to get to the bloody final but luckily the Saturday was wet.

How did you deal with the countless South Americans coming over year on year?!

Mostly made friends with them off track. I'm still in occasional contact with Alfie (Toledano), Quique (Mansilla) and Roberto (Moreno) for example. We were together a lot more then as we raced practically every weekend.

Who was the best driver you have raced against?

Probably Senna but several others were very tough and good. For example Derek Warwick. Others were just bonkers like Fernando Ribiero.

You raced and beat Ayrton Senna, is that your proudest racing achievement?

Yes one of them as you must judge yourself with your contemporaries but not cheating ever whilst doing it is pretty satisfying. Also starting out with no money and keeping the respect of the people I have driven for. (I hope!)

Thanks to Rick for his help with this, he's still going strong at the grand age of 65. Many, many top drivers have measured themselves against Rick's quality over the years, a top man in all respects.

Ten Minutes with.....Quique Mansilla

Imagine this, you get the works Van Diemen drive and then you meet your team mate for the year ahead, Ayrton Senna da Silva....
That's a tough prospect but today's FF1600 legend didn't duck the challenge!
Argentina's Quique Mansilla answers a few FF1600 questions direct from Buenos Aires....

HoFF1600 - Where and when was your first FF1600 race and what chassis were you driving?

QM - I started racing in 1980 with a Van Diemen RF80 due to me winning the Jim Russell World Scholarship

Did you always want to race in the UK to further your career?

I came to England by coincidence because i was driving at a school in Argentina that organized the Scholarship to UK.

What is your favourite memory/story from your FF1600 career?

I remember rolling over at a P+O race at Cadwell in 1981 while part of the Van Diemen's works team. It was at the esses prior to the corner that goes downhill ( The Gooseneck i think - ed!) Ayrton wasn't there as he was doing the Townsend Thoresen series. I won in the afternoon!!

How difficult was it to have Ayrton da Silva as your teammate?

He was a very hard man to beat!!! Very clever and with plenty of experience in racing that i didn't have, remember that 1981 was only my second ever season of racing while Ayrton had 10 years experience in Go Karts.

What was your favourite circuit and favourite corner in the UK?

Brands Hatch, Paddock Hill Bend.

What is your best memory from the FF Festival?

I was flying in 81 but i encounter Speedy Gonzalez Alfie Toledano and crash, lol!!

Which FF driver that you raced against should have got to F1 but didn't?

Can't think of one!

Thanks go to Quique, he's a top man who always has time for a chat about the good times he had over here in the 1980's.

Ten Minutes with.....Vincenzo Sospiri

Ten Minutes with.....1988 Festival winner, FVL, F3, F3000 and briefly F1 star, Italy's Vincenzo Sospiri

HoFF1600 - Did you know how competitive UK FF1600 was before you came over to race here?

VS - Yes, I did and that was one of the mai...n reasons I went to England. I knew that it had been a really good training ground for a lot of drivers then went on to be successful and I wanted to race against the best drivers.

How much of an influence was John Village in helping you to learn the UK circuits and to get settled here?

JV was a big influence and a huge help. He had so much experience and he was able to teach me a lot, especially the key points on the tracks and that was really important. He also helped me personally as I lived with his family which meant I was in a very good environment, my English got better and I always had people around me. I even used to babysit his children!!

Who were your toughest rivals in 1988?

It’s a long time ago but I remember (Jose) Cordova, (Derek)Higgins, (Richard) Dean, (Pedro) Chaves, (Jonathan) McGall and (Bernard) Dolan. I think maybe I also raced against (Gil) de Ferran that year but I’m not sure. There were a lot of really quick drivers and the fight was always very close on the track.

Just how fierce was the Van Diemen/Reynard/Swift/Mondiale rivalry and do you have any funny stories regarding this?

The rivalry between the manufacturers was pretty intense that year. I remember at the last race, at Cadwell Park, it was between Swift and Van Diemen to win the Championship. Before the green light had come on a Brazilian kid in a Van Diemen made a huge jump start and removed half of the Swift cars from the grid! Strangely enough I think he became a works Van Diemen driver the year after! (sounds like Niko Palhares to me - ed)!!

Which UK circuit was your favourite in 1600?

There are some brilliant circuits in England and I really loved racing there. I think my favourite circuits are Oulton Park, Brands Hatch and Donington – where I either used to always win or crash!

What are your memories of the 1988 festival and your poor start in the Final?!!

The Festival is a really nice memory for me as it was a win which was very important for my career, and a win which everyone remembers even now. Yes, I did make a bad start – because I had left the car in neutral by mistake (I hope none of my drivers read this!). It was because at the first start the two cars on the front row (Higgins and Cordova - ed) jumped the start and said it was because they couldn’t see the lights well. So there was a long discussion about what to do. In the end they decided to do the start again, leave the front drivers where they were with no penalty and to start the race with a waved flag. I was so concentrated on the flag man that I forgot to put the car in gear.

Would you say FF1600 was a great benefit to your racing career?

Definitely. I think it was the key point in my single seater career. The cars were brilliant, nice to drive and that year taught me so much. There was always tough fighting on the track and it was very close racing – which is the best way to learn.

My thanks go to both Vincenzo and Jessica Groombridge (Vincenzo's wife) for their time and for putting up with my emails! Vincenzo is now manager/owner of Euronova Racing who compete in Auto GP, F3 and Formula Abarth.
Please see for more information.