Bluebell Brings a Touch of Star Power to the Chateau

Thursday 18 February 2016

A Morris Minor 1000 that gained a new lease of life with brothers Mark and Andy Cross and has been raced by BTCC champions will return to the Chateau course for 2016?s event.

Andy and Mark first came across ‘Bluebell’ in a central London lock-up. Although the car had already been transformed from a gentle shopping car to a race car, it hadn’t had the best of luck on the track – despite having been campaigned by many members of the Classic Touring Car Racing Club, it didn’t have a win to its name and had barely finished half of its races.

However, its reputation didn’t matter to the two brothers, who had grown up with Morris Minors. So they bought it, tidied it up and made it more reliable – then went ahead to win two Classic Touring Car Championships in 1991 and 1993.

“She’s not very highly modified, to be honest – we’ve only really tweaked the engine, and even that’s only a little one-litre engine,” said Andy, who will be driving Bluebell at the Chateau Impney Hill Climb in July. “So on the tight, twisty things like hill climbs, there’s a bit more of a challenge, but on a race track, you just build up the speed and never slow down for anything – and I think that’s how we did it!”

SEE MORE: Click on the video player below to see onboard footage from the 2015 Hill Climb

Thanks to their championship wins, Bluebell was invited to Goodwood, where it soon attracted the attention of journalists and drivers alike. “We’re happy to lend it to anyone really!” said Andy. “Mark is a TV producer and works with a lot of BTCC drivers. We wanted to get them involved, so over the years, we’ve had quite a few of them giving it a go. And everyone seems to have loved driving it – even though she’s not the fastest, she’s just great fun to drive.”

Touring car ace Paul O’Neill took the car for a spin at Thruxton in 2011, and BTCC champion Andrew Jordan, whose father Mike had competed against Bluebell in the Classic Touring Car races of the 1970s, made his Goodwood debut in the car in 2012.

However, Goodwood’s star power had nothing on the Chateau Impney Hill Climb, according to Andy. “To be honest, we felt just privileged to be there, because you’ve got cars there that are breathtaking when you look at them – really old, really beautiful things. To be there with all of these other stunning cars, we never thought that would have happened. We really enjoyed it. It’s a good hill as well – it’s a real challenge.”

SEE MORE: Click on the video player below to see Bluebell compete at the 2015 event

It was Mark who drove Bluebell at the inaugural Hill Climb, and earned fourth place in the Production Saloon Cars class with a time of 51.43 – the best time the pair had achieved all year. Mark and Andy generally compete together in two-driver events, but when it comes to events like the Chateau, a bit of brotherly rivalry usually comes to the fore.

“I certainly hope to beat Mark’s time this year! We do have a good rivalry going – I beat him by a 100th of a second at Brands Hatch, so we do have a go at each other. I won’t be doing much to Bluebell to make her faster, but we know where the corners are at now … I’ll be studying the videos closely, although preferably not the one where he goes off and takes out the bollard!”

With several class lap records under his belt, Andy could be a contender for the class win at the Chateau – at the very least, we look forward to seeing if he can beat Mark’s time!

  • Bluebell ? Morris Minor 1000 at the Chateau Impney Hill Climb, Droitwich
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