Wheel-to-wheel -- British Preview -- your guide to the season ahead

edited by Paul Lawrence

Classical drama alive in '05

Historic and classic motor racing have never been so well served by the British racing calendar. No fewer than seven major festival events top the year, with Goodwood again taking star billing. Backed up by established events at Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Donington Park and the long-overdue return of a historic festival at Silverstone, it makes for an exciting summer.

In addition, the Vintage Sports Car Club and the Historic Sports Car Club have fine programmes planned, and the intriguing new Tour Britannia offers further diversity.

Whatever your preference and wherever you live, there's a marvellous choice. So sit back and plan a summer of memorable motorsport with our month-by-month guide. You won't be disappointed!

April:

East Anglian fans are poorly served by historic and classic racing, so the HSCC's visit to Snetterton on Sunday 17 is the peak of classic action at the Norfolk track.

A week later, on Saturday 23, the VSCC year barks into life for the Silverstone Spring Start, with a customary mix of pre-war racing cars and sportscars in action.

On the following day, Sunday 24, the BRDC has a predominantly modern race meeting on the full GP circuit, but a round of the club's Historic Sportscar Championship will make a fine spectacle.

May:

With Top Hat Racing and Coys working hand in hand, the Top Hat Festival at Donington Park on Sunday/Monday 1/2 is set to grow and grow. A cracking line-up of races will appeal to those who like their racing unfettered by too many frills, with a programme topped by the full range of Top Hat categories.

Making an overdue British debut will be the Motor Racing Legends Pre-War Sports Car Series, along with the Gentleman Drivers races and Lurani Trophy Formula Junior. Expect wall-to-wall racing each day.

At the end of the month is a real treat for those in the north-west as the VSCC returns to Oulton Park on Saturday 28 after five years away. The Hawthorn trophies are up for grabs and that should ensure a fine entry of both pre and postwar racing cars.

The HSCC has a busy month too, with meetings at Silverstone (Sunday 8) and a return to Croft (Saturday 21), while the VSCC speed-event season kicks off in the glorious Devon countryside at the Wiscombe Park hillclimb on Sunday 8.

June:

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is back to June for 2005 and will dominate the month with its customary eclectic line-up of the weird and the wonderful along with the greats of the sport. Once again entry is by advance tickets only in an effort to ensure a comfortable weekend (24-26) for everyone.

In complete contrast, the HSCC championships will be in action at Cadwell Park (Sunday 26), with only the Derek Bell Trophy absent due to the 2-litre limit for single-seaters at the challenging Lincolnshire venue.

Two weeks earlier (Sunday 12), the VSCC will also be tackling the dips and twists of Cadwell Park for its annual visit. Though the entry will not match some of the more prestigious VSCC meetings, the scenic venue provides a great backdrop for vintage action.

Over the water, the 50th anniversary of the final Dundrod Tourist Trophy will be celebrated in and around the town of Lisburn, just west of Belfast, on Saturday 18. Highlight of the festivities will be a sprint covering virtually all of the classic seven-mile road circuit.

July:

Two major race meetings back to back at the end of the month are the big stories for July.

The 15th running of the HSCC Superprix at Brands Hatch (23/24) will cram the daunting GP loop with historic races. Joining a full complement of HSCC categories will be the headline Group C/GTP and International Supersports Cup races — the spectacle of either will make it a magical weekend.

A week later on July 30/31 is the reborn Silverstone International Historic Festival (see below).

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the VSCC/MAC Shelsley Walsh hillclimb (Sunday 3). Always a highlight of the Shelsley season, the annual assault on the hill record for pre-war racing cars will be the focus of attention as the venue approaches its centenary celebrations.

The VSCC fellowship heads to Yorkshire a week later for a double-header speed weekend at Harewood hillclimb (Saturday 9) and then on to the Elvington sprint (Sunday 10).

The line-up for July concludes with the annual VSCC race meeting at the high-speed Mallory Park circuit in Leicestershire on Sunday 24. An impressive grid of thundering Edwardian machinery will again be a feature of the day.

August:

A great West Country weekend kicks August off, with a gaggle of HSCC races at Castle Combe on Saturday 6 followed by the VSCC Prescott hillclimb on Sunday 7. The venues are little more than an hour apart for those seeking a weekend away!

One hundred years and seven days after its first event, Shelsley Walsh will host a very special centenary celebration over the 19-21. Saturday's British Championship round will be followed on Sunday by an entry reflecting the Worcestershire hill's unrivalled history.

Chevron is the star draw at the Oulton Park Gold Cup (28/29). Chevron races and a Chevron drivers' reunion will celebrate 50 years of the marque, while HGPCA and Gentleman Drivers races complement a full HSCC programme.

September:

The busiest month of the season! It starts with the VSCC See Red event at Donington Park (3/4), where Group C/GTP and HGPCA races add to the VSCC action. Then it's straight into Tour Britannia for four days of racing and rallying (5-8), with Silverstone featuring heavily among a diverse range of venues.

Before Tour Britannia finishes, the Tourist Trophy Centenary on the Isle of Man (7-12) will be underway, peaking with a recreation of the 1905 race on the full 52-mile road circuit on Saturday 10.

On the same day the HSCC will take over Thruxton for what promises to be one of the best race meetings of the season. High-speed slipstreaming battles are the norm at the Hampshire speedbowl. If you prefer the seaside, it's the centenary of the Brighton Speed Trials along Madeira Drive (Saturday 10).

Then comes the incomparable Goodwood Revival Meeting (16-18), which is simply a must. Like the Festival of Speed, this is an all-ticket event and is rightly the absolute pinnacle of historic and classic motorsport in Britain.

Finally, the concluding weekend of September is a perfect example of the diversity of classic motorsport available in the UK. Will it be Thoroughbred Grand Prix cars supporting the inaugural A1 Grand Prix event on the Brands Hatch GP circuit (24/25) or a VSCC hillclimb at Loton Park (25)?

October

Nothing could match September's programme and October gives everyone a chance to catch breath. The Top Hat classes are racing at Mallory Park on Sunday 2, while the HSCC championship deciders will be at Silverstone on Saturday 15. Both meetings will feature big grids, sporting racing and great cars, while the settling of season-long contests will add extra spice to the Silverstone meeting.

Finally, the VSCC's sprint at Goodwood (Saturday 15) is a perfect lower-key way to wind down after a hectic season.

***

Silverstone: Reviving its own revival

Six decades of Formula One cars will be the major attraction at the rekindled Silverstone International Historic Festival over the weekend of July 30/31. Races from the HGPCA, Grand Prix Masters and Thoroughbred Grand Prix cars will put F1 machinery from the 1930s right through to 1985 into action.

Having squandered the place it once held at the head of major historic race meetings in Britain, the Silverstone event has some rebuilding to do, but with the BRDC backing it and the HSCC putting the event together there is reason to expect something special.

For the first time, GP Masters and TGP will share the bill, with GP Masters races each day and the TGP feature on Sunday. A capacity HGPCA grid set to cover both pre-'61 and pre-'66 divisions, is likely to race each day. Also out on Saturday and Sunday will be the Group C/GTP pack as the promoters aim to make each day well worth a visit.

Other races for BRDC Historic Sports, World Sportscar Masters, Gentleman Drivers, HGPCA drumbrake sports and the Derek Bell Trophy add quality in spades, while Saturday's racing will wrap up with the splendid BRDC 500 for pre-war sportscars. An advance weekend ticket is just £20.