Nick Griggs give us his account on his recent track day experience with Burton Power Performance
As a young man in the late 80’s, every petrol head Essex Boys ideal night out was to thrash a fast Ford through the streets of Brentwood or Southend whilst being chased by your mates or the local constabulary. Either would do, it mattered not, a fix is a fix… in-it….. Oh! For the joy of youthful stupidity. Not that the local plod was any match for us in their Mini Metro pandas. The lumpy armchair Ford Granada patrol cars didn’t fair much better. However there was a couple of awesome Rover V8 SD1 pursuit cars fitted with twin turbos, caged in the Chelmsford HQ Traffic Division workshops. I knew about these snarling monsters through a mate and fellow student at the Colchester Institute for motor vehicle studies, he served his apprenticeship in Essex Police Workshops.
The sight of those Pursuit Rovers (The Interceptors of their day) looming large in the mirrors of our zooped-up scorts, on the A127 road to Southend, would strike fear into the heart of the Essex Boy Racer, especially so with respected adversaries – Officers Scrieveneer or Byford at the wheel.
Nowadays, a little older and a little more sensible we can take our fast Fords to a track day. We can drive them ‘like we stole them’, on the tarmac of a racing circuit, safely and without fear of getting your collar felt by the Police Interceptors and their pesky helicopters.
The Ford RS has also grown-up. Become more sophisticated, more powerful and more fun, than ever
before as I found out at a recent MSVT track day at Brands Hatch. I was very fortunate to be invited to drive (my new best pal) Andy Burton’s Ford Focus RS, affectionately known as ‘Kermit’ by the very clever Burton Power Performance – Fast Ford Specialists.
This is a very special Focus RS developed by Burton to celebrate their 50th Anniversary in the business of making Fords new and old go fast… very fast.!..
The blue oval launched this incarnation of the RS badged Focus back in 2009 to instant worldwide success on the streets and in motorsport. A new four wheel drive model is due in the showrooms for 2016. As is the usual case, the current model reaches the limit of its development in its final year of production.
The very talented boys and girls at Burton Power Performance have found that limit with this incredible motor car. A car that is equally at home on the streets of Essex – the spiritual home for RS Fords – and the race track.
With Burtons Mods the standard 304BHP five cylinder turbo charged unit has been boosted up-to a whopping 430BHP @7500 RPM (ribbits per minute). Combined with Fords clever RevoKnuckle front drive suspension system, nothing is going to out drag this car off the traffic lights outside the ‘Sugar Hut’ in TOWIE’land, Brentwood. On a race track like the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit the RS is a riot of speed and power.
304BHP five cylinder turbo charged unit has been boosted up-to a whopping 430BHP @7500 RPM
Back in the day, during the late 80’s my rides were a succession of fast Fords – Mk2 Escort RS2000’s, GT Capris and the mighty Sierra RS500 Cosworth. One occasion on the Witham Bypass, on a summers night in 1989 – my then passenger “allegedly” clocked the speedo on the Sierra bending the needle at 175mph. I myself was far too busy – watching ‘eyes on storks’ the scenery ahead whiz by at a mesmerizing rate of knots.
Not since that night have I driven such a powerful car. I had reached my road driving pinnacle with the iconic Cozzie – nothing could or would better that magical experience. I emerged from the driving seat a Man, the exuberance of Essex Boy Racer well and truly spent. I had grown-up and realised that my addiction for speed on the road would like a drug, eventually kill me or others.
The Burton Ford Focus RS drive – brought back to me that forgotten adrenalin rush with a God almighty flashback, all-be-it in relative safety on the Kent circuit. I never would have thought another Ford motor car would ever excite me, as the RS500 had.
The last time I drove here at Brands, I was racing in a Single Seater Formula, in a round of the 1990 RAC MSA Southern Championships. My Qualifying lap time then was (if memory serves) 00:57 something seconds, good enough for a grid slot on the 4th row.
The Brands Indy Circuit hasn’t changed much over time. Paddock Hill Bend up-to Durids is still the awesome roller-coaster it always was. Graham Hill Bend has a little less width on the exit than I remember, which caught me out a couple of times, drifting Kermit out over the kerbs (that weren’t there 25yrs ago)… and kicking up the dirt. Causing Mr Burton to croak!.. a sharp intake of breath… Cooper Straight into Surtees is the same ballsy fast sweeper, before – rear wheel lifting – heavy breaking into McLaren.
Turning in-to Clearways and rounding Clarke Curve, squeezing the throttle and bouncing on the traction control. The clever RevoKnuckle does its thing, eliminating the torque steer as Kermit hurtles you down the Brabham Straight to 130mph before the difficult breaking point over the crest into Paddock once again.
This incredible Burton tuned, tin top, road going car with mild suspension tweaks and off-the-shelf Continental tyres stopped the clock at sixty seconds. Just a few heart beats off the pace of the purpose built single seat racer. This generations RS will become in time as iconic as its past masters.
An amazing day out, thank you to Andy Burton for letting me drive your car ‘like I stole it’ I am so glad that fast Fords are still in the very capable and trusted hands of the grown-ups at Burton Power Performance and their exciting balanced engine developments and car tuning expertise will continue for many more years to come.
Nick Griggs (Burton Power Racing)