A promising first day of the 19th Annual Walter Hayes Trophy race weekend at Silverstone produced an impressive pole position for Josh Green and a slightly fortuitous but well-earned Heat race win for Scott Huffaker (above) in their pair of Cliff Dempsey Racing-prepared Formula Ford Ray GR18/19s.
As often in the English Midlands at this time of year, changeable weather conditions simply added to the challenges facing the pair of talented young Americans. The initial qualifying sessions were delayed for around 45 minutes due to heavy rain, but Huffaker, in Heat 2, and Green, in Heat 4, put their three days of testing to good use as they both posted competitive lap times.
Later in the day, with the track slowly drying out but with the temperatures remaining very cool and held lower by a biting wind, Huffaker was the first to see the green light. Starting from the outside of row 2, Huffaker, 19, from Menlo Park, Calif., moved up one position on the opening lap at the expense of Jack Wolfenden’s Firman RFR FF17. Ahead of him lay only two-time and defending Walter Hayes Trophy winner Michael Moyers (Spectrum) and fellow veteran Joey Foster (Firman), a former three-time Walter Hayes Trophy champion, who were locked in combat. On Lap 3, incredibly, Moyers and Foster became entangled at Copse Corner, handing Huffaker a lead he held without serious challenge until the checkered flag.
Former Formula Ford Festival champion Ivor McCullough finished second, 2.13 seconds in arrears at the conclusion of the eight-lap race. Huffaker capped his fine performance by posting the fastest lap of the race at 1m08.596s (86.09 mph).
“I was gifted the lead, so we were a little bit lucky,” admitted Huffaker. “I knew we were a bit faster than the guy behind us so I thought, OK, just maintain the gap, don’t push harder than you have to and don’t make any mistakes. I saw him close a tiny bit and so I decided to push for a lap or two and those were my two fast laps. It was pretty simple. I was checking my mirrors to make sure I maintained a gap but it wasn’t a big gap and if I had made a mistake, he would have been right there.”
Green’s Heat 4 race a half-hour or so later was significantly more challenging. The 16-year-old from Mount Kisco, N.Y., was beaten away from the start by outside front row qualifier Luke Cooper (Swift SC18) but immediately settled into a thrilling four-car battle with Matt Cowley (Van Diemen), who finished on the podium at last weekend’s Formula Ford Festival, and two-time Walter Hayes Trophy runner-up Oliver White (Medina JL17).
Green took the lead with a brilliant move on Fisher under braking at Brooklands on the opening lap, diving through on the significantly wetter inside line, only for Cowley to move in front next time around. Green found his way into the lead by Lap 4, but there was clearly nothing to choose between the quartet. Finally, one slight mistake by Green under braking for Brooklands Corner on Lap 7 proved decisive, as Cowley regained the point and Green quickly found himself elbowed down to fourth.
White grabbed the lead on the final lap to win from Cowley, Cooper and Green. All four were separated by just 0.645s.
“The first race of the Walter Hayes Trophy was a lot of fun,” said Green. “Finally I was able to race people which hadn’t happened yet. Everyone put up a really good fight and we still have a pretty good starting position for the Semi Final. I know what I need to work on for the next round.”
The other two Heat races were won by Ireland’s Jordan Dempsey (Spectrum 011c) and Englishman Rory Smith (Medina Sport JL18).
Heat 4 was the fastest of today’s four races, thus White will start from pole position for the first of two 12-lap Semi-Final races tomorrow morning, which is scheduled to start at 11:10 a.m. Green will line up on the inside of Row 4. By virtue of winning the second fastest Heat today, Huffaker (unofficially) will start from pole position for Semi-Final 2.
Live timing – as well as commentary from Ian Titchmarsh, Paul Truswell and Alistair Douglas – will be available at https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/194456.