Trackspeed Racing – New Team For ‘05
Porsches - And A Masarati Too

Mark Howson was on the ball back in early April, when he introduced Trackspeed Racing, and co-owners David Ashburn and Rory Fordyce, to dailysportscar readers – here. The first image, below, shows Ashburn / Fred Moss on the way to second in GT3, in the British GT event at Knockhill earlier this year - their best result of the season, so far.

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A chance conversation with Piers Masarati on the morning of August 19 revealed that Trackspeed is based at Dunsfold Park, a working aerodrome and engineering centre near Guildford in Surrey. That’s 10 miles from dsc HQ, so a Friday afternoon visit became a necessity – especially once Piers mentioned that the airfield is currently ‘home’ to a Boeing 747.

The story goes that once David Ashburn discovered how much these old girls are worth, he immediately suggested that he wanted one – as his office! So perhaps another 747 will turn up at Dunsfold. Oddly, we know a man who can find one David…

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That gives a flavour of the sense of spirit and adventure that accompanies this bunch. It’s too early to get a feeling for the team’s plans in 2006, but Ashburn and Fordyce have taken the novel step of employing Piers Masarati as their Team Manager.

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dailysportscar.com“Steve Moody was in charge from the moment the team was created in February this year,” explains Piers, “but he found that he was doing everything – or trying to do everything.

"David and Rory employed me to give the team some direction – at least I think that’s why they employed me! That leaves Steve to look after the engineering of the cars.

“There’s a plan in place to divide the workshop into a road car area and the rest for the race cars, but I think Steve has been too busy to worry about details like that during the team’s first season.”

Steve Moody is one of those vastly experienced guys who seem to have been around our kind of racing forever: he worked with Parabolica and their McLaren F1 GTR in 1997, and has had spells looking after Panoz GT1s and a Roadster (the Dave Sims car in 2001) since then.

He was checking over the gearbox of a 911 GT3 on Friday (below), this the the chassis that had been through a fairly extensive (Avon) tyre test a couple of days earlier. Steve Moody is also vastly experienced with Ferraris.

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He’s pictured (in the blue Dave Price Racing shirt) next to a pet project of David Ashburn’s – a very solid looking, but a bit tatty around the edges, Bentley. Ashburn found this one e-bay, and it will be restored in due course. There are a number of ‘shops at Dunsfold Park – a paint shop, for example, which handles the liveries of the Trackspeed cars – which could play a role in restoring the Bentley… but perhaps the mechanical work will be handled in house, over the winter?

Piers Masarati has a slightly conflicting role until the end of this season – he’s competing against Trackspeed, on the British GT tracks. Be careful if you find a green and white or green and yellow Porsche ahead of you Piers. Perhaps the livery will be changed before next season? Perhaps the team will change classes too? Nothing is set in stone at the moment: it’s simply too early to seriously consider the team’s 2006 plans. All in good time.

The team’s owners have certainly found a fascinating location for their new operation. It was essential that Piers took me on a quick tour, in his Civic Type R, despite a steady rain falling for most of the afternoon.

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Besides restoration and sales operations for road cars, we found hangers for maintaining various smaller aircraft, including a twin-engined business jet, and a small McLaren workshop. Chris Goodwin pops in from time to time, to shake down one of those McLaren Mercedes machines. There’s also a company doing some interesting things with Lotus Exiges.

Top Gear uses the runway and access roads at Dunsfold Park, to test cars for its television programme, and enable a variety of ‘celebrities’ to try and set a lap time in a humble saloon car. Entering the airfield from the ‘wrong’ side ensures an editorial trip around part of this track, and Piers and I retraced those ‘steps’ to get across the runway to see the Boeing 747. The Storm Aviation technicians who were removing the Rolls Royce engines couldn’t have been more welcoming, and were more than happy for us to climb the steps and look within the cabin. Various instruments and other equipment will also be removed for refurbishment.

Dunsfold Park has a fascinating history – which you can read all about here. It began as a base for the Royal Canadian Air Force, which flew Mustangs and Mitchells from here from 1942/3, the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service soon also operating Mitchells from this spot. D Day, Arnhem, the Berlin Airlift – they all featured active roles by aircraft flown from Dunsfold. The airfield also housed released PoWs from liberated Europe, and aircraft from disbanded squadrons were flown to Dunsfold in their hundreds in late 1945.

By the following year, Dunsfold was no longer an active military airfield – but in 1951 the Hawker Aircaft Company began using the ‘field as its flight test centre, for aircraft built at its Kingston factory. Hawker Hunters were a regular sight over the Surrey skies – and it was here that the Harrier made its first (tethered) flight, in 1960. Future production Harriers typically first flew at Dunsfold.

dailysportscar.comNow it’s a facility for both aircraft and cars, and Piers Masarati and Steve Moody can use the tarmac to, say, run-in a new gearbox, or test a car before an imminent race meeting.

Trackspeed didn’t have a successful British GT event at Silverstone in the middle of August, David Ashburn hitting the UCB Ferrari and losing his fluids on lap 1: perhaps it will be 2006 before we see this new outfit really beginning to ‘fly’? They seem to have everything in place to do just that - and by then, it's looking as though they'll have a British GT Champion on their hands too.

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