Run by Julian Balme
Total mileage 49,354
Owned since 1991
Miles since August 2013
Latest costs none
SLIDING AROUND SILVERSTONE
It’s been nearly three years since Wooly graced these pages, and even longer since it’s been on a race track. Digging the ancient Dunlopshod steel wheels out of the shed in preparation for this year’s Pomeroy Trophy, I worked out that it’s four years since our trip to Belgium and a wet canter around Spa with Julius Thurgood’s HRDC troop. I’ve not been in a hurry to race the Lincoln since then, but the annual VSCC event seemed to be the ideal opportunity to have a bit of laid-back circuit fun with it again.
Held at Silverstone, the morning tests were conducted on a drying track in relative sunshine. Unfortunately, Wooly being an automatic, my standing-eighth and wigglewoggle were handicapped by my breaking the timing beam by simply selecting Drive, rather than departing from the line. Not that I was ever in the running for an award, but that – and sluggish getaways – didn’t help my cause. So imagine my excitement when, exactly as the BBC had predicted, light drizzle graced proceedings half an hour before the final test, the legendary 40-minute high-speed trial.
I’d managed to talk my way into the first batch for older cars, but being number 39 meant that I was the last of the group. When the grid was reversed for the rolling start behind the pace car, I suddenly found myself on pole – a position I’m never likely to occupy again.
The air was so rarefied that far up the order that I thought that I might require oxygen, but needn’t have worried. After a lap and a half around what was by then an incredibly slippery Silverstone club circuit, the pace car pulled off and the chap next to me – piloting an Austin- Healey 3000 for the first time – shot off into the distance before the union flag had even been waved. So much for doing it like they do on the telly. By the end of the start-finish straight I’d been overtaken by two more cars, but all three of us passed the revolving novice in the Big Healey on the exit of the first turn, Copse.
My target of 25 laps in 40 minutes was always going to be tough, but within seconds I knew that we were driving to survive and that Pomeroy Trophy glory would be put on hold for another year. I’d like to say that I turned on the radio and sat back for the whole ordeal listening to the Six Nations. If truth be known, though, my eyes were on stalks and my brow furrowed as I endeavoured to keep the car facing in the right direction.
There is a breed of annoying enthusiast who will say that competing in such inclement conditions tells you all about your car and hones your driving ability. Well, I know all too well about Wooly Bully: there are more nimble cruise liners. It’s huge and, if it got too far out of shape, could demolish the BRDC’s clubhouse.
As for my car control, I have none. Just ask poor Sean Bramhall in his Porsche 356. From very close quarters he watched me grapple with the understeering beast for lap after lap. I wasn’t intentionally holding him up, but it took until the 37th minute for him to finally muster enough courage to pass me. By then I’d scared myself more times than I’d completed laps – a paltry 21 in the final reckoning. At the end of the day, I was glad to be heading home with myself, the car and various buildings all unscathed.
Again the Lincoln proved itself to be totally reliable. It’s amazing how after long periods of non-use, I can get in, fire it up and set off to who knows where without a murmur of complaint from the car. Last year, I journeyed down to Cornwall for a weekend break. It gobbled up the miles without the slightest hint of indigestion, requiring nothing more than frequent pauses to replenish the fuel tank. It’s hardly surprising that I’m so attached to it, but circuits, I fear, are a thing of the past for Wooly Bully. I think I need to do some rallies instead. Liège-Rome-Liège maybe?
‘The air was so rarefied that far up the grid that I thought that I might require oxygen, but needn’t have worried’
Clockwise: a patient Bramhall looks for a way past the Lincoln chicane; awaiting the first test; Margaret Diffey takes the outside line in her TT rep.
Cosmopolitan in Cornwall: Wooly makes for remarkably reliable and fuss-free transport