Matt Whitehead — 13.22
Coalville Engineer and classics fan Matt Whitehead, 28 is chair of the Mk1 Golf Owners’ Club, and earned his place after clocking up an impressive time of just 13.22 seconds when he took on the challenge at the Practical Classics Restoration Show at Birmingham’s NEC in March.
Despite facing tough competition Matt’s decided against going into training for the big day. “I’m going in cold but I’ll still do it, don’t worry about that!” he joked, whilst adding that he’s still ‘in it to win it.’
“It’s about winning the prize and having a laugh. I’d never really considered a Triumph but I’d like to win the Spitfire, burn it around a bit and I’m sure it can’t be that hard underneath the bonnet!”
Tim Fifield — 15.20
Maidstone man Tim Fifield runs his own driving instruction business in Chatham. Tim, 48, earned his place after clocking up an impressive time of just 15.20 seconds when he took on the challenge at the Mini Cooper Register show at Beaulieu in June.
In contrast to Matt’s style, Tim has been ‘revving up for Resto’: “I bought a Mini cylinder head from a breaker’s yard to practice for this competition. I’m told I came third out of all the times in the heats but the guy who came first is a couple of seconds ahead so that’s quite a lot of time to make up.”
Tim has history with the iconic Triumph model having “tinkered with” an ex-girlfriend’s Spitfire in years gone by, although it’s Minis that really turn Tim’s head; good news for Tim’s 16-year-old daughter Connie.
“She’s got her eyes on the Spitfire. She’s not so much into classic- as free cars,” he jokes. “She’d learn to drive in it.”
Tim’s truly impressive time places him, or perhaps his daughter, a step closer to the pedals of that Spitfire!
Ben White — 15.25
Tonbridge Wells mechanic Ben White earned his place after clocking up an impressive time of just 15.25 seconds when he took on the challenge at the Practical Classics Restoration Show at Birmingham’s NEC in March.
Ben, 22, has also been honing his socket skills ready for the grand final: “I’ve been practicing on a cylinder head set up exactly the same way as the one in the Spark Plug Challenge,” he reports, adding that he’s already beaten the time which secured his place in the final. “I’ve got a video on my Facebook of me doing it in 11.88 seconds.”
As well as the practice, Ben could also have a head start on his fellow finalists. A mechanic by trade, he is also something of a Mini buff, having first caught the classic car bug as a child when his mum bought one of the iconic British motors.
Now he owns two himself, a 12 75 Mini STi and standard Mini Clubman. Whilst more of a Mini fan — he competed in the Spark Plug Challenge at two Mini-themed car shows — Ben admits that it would be “pretty pleasing” to win. But he thinks another of the family’s classic enthusiasts, his dad John, is even keener to see him ‘triumph.’
“My dad’s more into the Spitfires to be honest, so that’s why he wants me to win it”
Jason Wilkinson — 15.40
Jason Wilkinson, 40, a maintenance engineer from Ryton-on-Dunsmoor, Warwickshire earned his place after clocking up an impressive time of just 15.40 seconds when he took on the challenge at the Practical Classics Restoration Show at Birmingham’s NEC in March.
“I haven’t had time to practice but it would be quite cool to win,” commented Jason who has been a classic enthusiast for around ten years and already owns a Rover P6, Morris Marina and Alpine cars.
Jason has illustrated that healthy competitive instinct of the classic car enthusiast and put in a truly impressive time which places him a step closer to the pedals of that Spitfire.
Ahead of the event, Carole Nash ambassador Fuzz Townshend said:
“The Carole Nash Spark Plug Challenge has been such tremendous fun over the past months, but now we’re getting close to the grand finale and the competition is hotting up.
“All will be revealed at the National Resto’ Show on Sunday October 26, when the final head-to-head competition takes place. Fastest on the day wins the fabulous prize of a Triumph Spitfire.
“Whoeever takes it is getting a great car and I know! I personally put that little Spitfire through its paces earlier this month when I took it on the Round Britain Reliability Run. Glad to have brought it back in one piece.”