The penultimate race of the day was an eagerly anticipated one, as it was the first 500cc F3 race to take place at Castle Combe since 1955. In period the category was a regular at Castle Combe as young racers such as Stirling Moss fought to prove themselves, although sadly the category hadn’t returned since it’s heyday in the 1950’s. Luckily the 500 Owners Association put together a well supported grid for this Autumn Classic race, with Steve Jones on pole in his Cooper, with George Shackleton alongside in his similar Cooper.
After a rolling start the 15 minute race got underway with Shackleton assuming the early lead from Jones. After the opening lap the leading pair had an advantage of 1-2 seconds over the rest of the field, suggesting this race would simply be between the leading duo. A mistake from leader Shackleton as he ran wide on the exit of the Esses meant Jones sped through into a lead of 3-4 seconds over the recovering Shackleton on lap 3. Over the next few laps Shackleton did manage to close the gap down to 1.7 seconds by lap 7.
A lap later and Shackleton executed a audacious round the outside move on leader Jones at Camp in what was by far the best move of the entire day’s racing. Sadly it didn’t count for much as Jones used a much better exit from Camp to re-take the lead at Folly on the next lap. From here the first two remained close over the final minutes however there were no further changes in position as Steve Jones claimed a close victory over George Shackleton, with the final podium man Gordon Russell far behind the first two in his unique Mackson racer.
Richard De La Roche was 4th in his Smith racer whilst Darrell Woods and John Turner rounded out the top 6 in their Coopers. This race showed why 500cc F3 was so popular in the 1950’s with again close racing provided almost 60 years later. This definitely showed why the 500cc Owners Association needs to organise a return to Castle Combe next year, something that would hopefully be eagerly accepted by everyone involved. For more information on this great series please visit their website below.