Gavin Watson Isabella


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2010 Season
2011 Season
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Brands Hatch Touring Car Greats

April 9th 2011

Gavin is trying to get as much power out of his Isabella as possible and over the winter fitted a new camshaft that gave an extra few BHP's.

This was tested on the first race of the season at the Brands Hatch in the Touring Car Greats on April 9th.

Qualifying in 18 place in a field of 31 and 2nd in class. In the race 16th place overall 3rd in class with a starting grid of 30 cars

Although power was up torque was down and for Brands tight turns this was not ideal but, she finished the race without problems. After the race Isabella decided to ingested a nut that indirectly helped point Gavin into a problem area with the cylinder head gas flow. May be Bill is giving a helping hand.

Brands Hatch results download pdf here

Mallory Park HRDC Touring Greats


Mallory Park May 30th 2011, televised live on Motors TV. The Borgward stars!!!!

The dust has settled from our exploits a week ago, or more accurately the spray has cleared and hopefully the car has now dried out from a VERY wet meeting at Mallory Park.

Last time out at Brands Hatch, the engine decided to finally eat one of the three small studs which held the air filter housing to the carburetter. I say finally because having taken the head off, this stud appears to have visited every single valve during the race and only actually went into the cylinder as we were putting the car onto the trailer!

As the head was off the plan was to make new inlet manifolds and try twin single barrel carburettors. But we were really struggling to find suitable carburettors we thought would actually be an improvement on what we had so in the end, and as time was tight, this has gone on the back-burner. What we did do though was take our “new” cam out. This had made the car virtually undriveable and proved if nothing else that horsepower isn’t everything. With just four gears a peaky engine just aint no good! BUT what we did do was some more work on the cylinder head and valves.

Having stripped the cylinder head what we found was a head that had been extensively gas flowed but fitted with absolutely standard valves! Ie all Bill Blydenstein’s meticulous drawings for modifying valves, seats etc had essentially been ignored by my engine man.

It seems some people just won’t be told and think “we do things differently now”. Not something I really understand, particularly if the person doing the telling was a top engineer in his time and whose input should not be simply ignored. In short we have now carried out the valve modifications as recommended by Blydenstein and the engine definitely feels better although I havn’t been back to the rolling road to find out exactly where we are now. So that’s what we went to Mallory Park with.

There were 28 cars in the Historic Racing Drivers Club “Touring Greats” race. The cars are split into four classes A: Cars over 2,701 cc, B: cars 1,600 – 2,700 cc, C: cars 1,201 – 1,600 cc (The Borgward), S: (Speedwell) for modified “A” series type engined cars.

We qualified 8th Overall, 1st in class and could probably have been 5th or 6th had I not been stuck behind another car for most of the session. The race itself was for 45 minutes, with one or two drivers. All cars must make a pit stop and the driver has to get out and back in even if they are not changing.

The race went really well. We came 9th overall, 1st in class C and fastest lap in class. I was a bit annoyed towards the end to find myself being blocked and weaved about outrageously by the class B Volvo Amazon’s 2nd driver to prevent me passing. They’ve got a lot of horsepower and he should have been up the road. If I’d got in front of HIM we would have beaten all the class B cars as well!

Gavin Watson

Photos by Kelvin Fagen

Video clips from Motors TV below.

If it will not play it can be Download here

More pictures and information on the HDRC Website

Mallory Park Results download pdf here

Motors TV website

Silverstone HRDC Touring Greats 26th June


Current engine layout.

Line up before race.

Gavin Watson and co. driver Chris Snowden with the trophy.

Isabella won best in class in a large field. Race 9 had 50 competitors. download pdf here

Next race was Thruxton on 30th July2011 where Cavin came 8th overall and second in class download results pdf here

The final race was Snetterton 1-2nd October where Gavin achieved fourth in class download results pdf here

Over the winter months the engine is due for some work ready for 2012.


BORGWARD RACING NEWS (belated report from 2011!! )

Well just a quick resume of the Isabella’s exploits this last year.

We did five races in all and came 1st in class at Silverstone and Mallory Park, 2nd in class at Thruxton and Snetterton and 3rd at Brands Hatch.

The good news is the HRDC who run the race series know how to really keep their competitors happy- that is just give out lots of prizes! So those results mean we got a trophy every time out so I have sent a picture for your amusement – they are actually really nice and each one has a base cut to the shape of each track.

The other mission we went on this year was we took the car to Korbach, actually drove it, and we got a prize there too although I really don’t know what it was for as..


a) the proceedings were entirely in German

b) we were possibly slightly over refreshed by prize giving time.

Driving a “race car” with no carpets, sound deadening and the heater permanently “on”, might seem a bit rash but it was a good outing and I think appreciated by the Germans and lots of people in petrol stations etc on the way. Apart from being a bit of a jaunt to the Borgward meeting we wanted to drive the car around the Nurburgring and get in a little motorway madness on those autobahns. So apart from having to buy ear plugs at Dover the car was just fine.

I also wanted to see how fast it would go and with a long run up and probably slightly downhill if the truth be told got it up to 189 kph on the GPS about (117 mph). After that the car wasn’t quite so fine and really didn’t run properly for the rest of the trip.

What’s interesting about driving around in old cars is the whole emphasis and daily priority really is just about getting to the next point or destination (all stuff we just don’t think about normally). To give you an idea, there are some bits on my car that really really don’t want to be on it, the main one on this trip being the dynamo. It had already decided 189 kph was too fast and was not going to do any more charging; then it didn’t want to be on the car at all.

So as we cruise along apart from the general noise we occasionally get the clink clatter of another bolt come off something and rattling off under the car. Instantly we are high alert and immediately go into “emergency mode”, which is basically just keep going. We are not risking this thing refusing to fire up again on the side of an autobahn. The only bolts I could find on the car to fix it back on (always temporarily it turned out) were the ones holding Lizzies seat in. She accepted my assurances this was quite safe and normal under the circumstances.

So engine running badly we set off from Korbach for the Nurburgring and no sooner had we set off, another bolt clattered off and the charging light came on. So you can get the picture, it’s always a bit interesting. How long does an engine run on battery power alone; what else is going to fall off; most importantly are we going to get to our next destination?

As it happened we did! And did four laps of the Nurburgring with the light on at which point I thought we better call it a day before it really does stop!

We did spend a couple of hours in a garage fitting an alternator the next morning, but I wasn’t confident that was charging either so in the end stopped again and bought a great big battery, leads etc and a battery charger. That night we smuggled the batteries into the hotel room, charged them up and basically came home on battery power.

After our German jaunt, the last race of the year was at Snetterton on 1st October. The weather was beautiful and hot and the car ran fine although the engine temperature got much higher than it’s been before so we have taken it apart to have a look and do some more modifications in our eternal quest for a bit more power.

I should mention Chris Snowdon (my sometime co-driver and car preparer) is not that happy with what he’s found and is saying things like the engine is in a bit of a state, it’s obviously got hot, the pistons have score marks on them and that it’s all my fault and that engines don’t like being maxed out for long periods on autobahns etc etc. He also did some proper measuring, we have always been suspicious of the 11:5 claimed compression ratio and found it to be closer to 9.5:1 which I think is a big reason we have never had the power we thought we should get.

Well what’s done is done, but it does mean it’s being rebuilt again and will have new improved pistons, proper compression ratio, new race valves and more head work, and I’m now confidant will have more power!

Next year we are hoping to be invited to race at Goodwood again.

Racing reports
2010 Season
2011 Season
2013 Season