Committee Profile: Barry Cockayne, Group Sa Bugeye Sprite

We are lucky as a club to be supported by a strong committee made up of hard working and passionate people. You may know some well, but others not as much. So, over the next couple of weeks we are going to go behind the scenes and spend some time getting to know the people keeping our club running smoothly in 2020.

In our second committee profile, we spend a few minutes getting to know Barry Cockayne, once again with thanks to John Young.

Barry Cockayne and Kermit Bugeye Sprite

‘Kermit’ at Phillip Island by Neil Hammond, thanks to Barry Cockayne

Barry Cockayne, Group Sa Bugeye Sprite: A Life-Long Enthusiast, Official and Racer

By John Young

I first met Barry when we were both competing in Group Sa, Barry in his Bugeye and me in an MGA. But Barry has been involved in the sport much longer than that. “I lived in Deniliquin, and as a teenager took myself to the Australian Grand Prix in 1958,” said Barry, “The big names were there, like Moss and Brabham, Stan Jones and Bib Stillwell.”

Deniliquin had a strong local car club in those days, and Barry quickly got involved as an official. “I became a club office holder, a CAMS steward and race control team member at various circuits over the next 50 years, plus a stint as a series steward with the then V8 Supercar category,” said Barry.

Barry Cockayne and Bugeye Sprite

When it came to competition, Barry started out in lap dashes (the forerunner to modern super sprints) and purchased what he saw as the ideal platform for entry level motorsport – an LC Torana XU1. But as is so often the case, the financial challenges of mortgages and bringing up kids stood in the way of motorsport until he moved to Sydney in the ’90s. By then circumstances allowed him a little more time and budget to pursue his sporting ambitions, starting with super sprints and regularity and finally moving into historic racing.

However, it wasn’t an XU1 or even a Group Nb EH Holden that became Barry’s weapon of choice (although an EH was a candidate for the shopping list.) Another of Barry’s favourite cars was the Bugeye Sprite, and it was in one of these that he took to the tracks in regularity.

Barry Cockayne Bugeye Sprites

Apparently Bugeyes breed when they’re locked away in the garage. After about six years in regularity, Barry decided to move up to Group Sa, and obtained his GC Licence at the tender age of 65. Rather than modify the car he had been using in regularity, another one which had been properly developed for racing became available and was added to the Ecurie Cockayne fleet.

Barry said that after buying the group Sa car, he went over it from one end to the other, since when it has just required regular maintenance. “In fact, I’ve got three Bugeyes now,” said Barry, “including a quite tidy and very useable road car.”

Barry Cockayne and Kermit Bugeye Sprite

It’s no secret that Group Sa numbers have dwindled a bit in recent years, and where there used to be four Bugeyes at most meetings, nowadays it’s mainly Barry and Greg Prunster left to carry the flag. This means that the smaller capacity Sa cars are often gridded up with Groups J, K and L, which can present problems. “These cars have very different performance characteristics to the Bugeye, with great straight-line speed combined with marginal cornering and brakes. The Bugeye, on the other hand, is all about flow.” Nevertheless, Philip Island is Barry’s favourite circuit, even though the Sprite must run out of revs pretty soon when coming onto the straight!

Barry Cockayne Bugeye Sprites

By Alister Duncan

As far as dream cars go, Barry has an XU1 and an E30 BMW in the garage, but if he could, the current E30 would be replaced by an E30 M3. Nearby would be a Range Rover Sport, a suitable upgrade in Barry’s tow car department. And which racing cars would he like to own? “If I could fit into it, I’d love a Cooper Formula Junior. Another race car that really appeals to me is the Elfin Streamliner.” Well, who could disagree?

Looking at the historic racing environment, Barry said that the level of sportsmanship is very high – and high on his list of reasons he would advise people to get involved. And advice for newer drivers? “Don’t forget to breathe… I reckon I didn’t breathe for two laps the first time I went to Oran Park!”

Barry Cockayne and Kermit Bugeye Sprite

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