70s Celebration Race Lorded by Dance

Steve Dance was the man to beat in a lively 70s Celebration and Masters Allcomers race at the annual Brands Hatch Masters Historic Festival.

Simon Watts (Datsun 240Z) started on pole, ahead of the Mike Wilds/Steve Gugliemi BMW 3.0 CSL “Batmobile”. And the BMW monstered its way into the lead, with Watts dropping to sixth and the Dave Coyne-driven Ferrari slotting into second place ahead of Craig Davies (Ford Mustang). It lasted only two laps though, the BMW pitting after just two laps with an engine fault. Coyne’s Ferrari 308 assumed the lead with Davies second and Steve Dance (Ford Capri) up to third. Behind, Mark Martin was up from the penultimate row grid in his 1963 Lotus Cortina and was scrapping with Paul Pheysey’s 1965 version.

As the pit window opened, early stoppers included Watts’s Datsun to give way to Roberto Giordanelli, plus the Davies Mustang from second. Just as the final pit stops were settling out, Roberto Giordanelli passed Stephen Dance for second on the road, with the Ferrari, now driven by Chris Compton Goddard, in the lead by over seven seconds.

However, it was all change on lap 14 when the top four came across the line 1.3 seconds apart, Giordanelli snatching the lead from the Ferrari, with Dance and Chris Beighton (Sunbeam Tiger) snapping behind. Beighton grabbed second place and started to Harry Giordanelli, running less than a tenth of a second behind on lap 16, with just 10 minutes to go. Beighton grabbed the lead on lap 17, with Dance up to second.

Beighton’s Tiger lost 12 seconds as it ran out of brakes on lap 20, Dance taking the lead but Roberto Giordanelli made a do-or-die move on the Capri at Paddock Hill. “It was a choice between contact or pirouette, and I chose the latter”, he said, all of which suddenly left Stephen Dance in a lonely, but welcome lead. At the same time, Henry Mann went into the gravel at Hawthorns in the Escort with a fiery rear brake and the Mark Martin and Paul Pheysey Cortinas continued their race-long battle for seventh in the slipstream of Georg Nolte (Ford GT40), who was behind Allcomers class winner John Spiers in the Griffith.

Dance crossed the line with a four second advantage over the Datsun. “That was a great race - it must have been really exciting to watch,” he said on the podium.