Get your diary ready – here are the historic racing events you want to make sure you attend at home and abroad
Grand Prix de Monaco Historique
Like its illustrious counterpart at Le Mans, this runs every other year – and the forthcoming edition will be the 11th of a sequence that began in 1997. Although the cast alternates subtly from event to event, Grand Prix racing is ever a central theme – and six of the seven classes are for evocative single-seaters. Pre-war GP cars attended only for a demo run in 2016, but will be racing this year. They are joined by pre-61 F1/F2 cars and F1 cars divided into four year groups (1961-65, 1966-72, 1973-76 and 1977-80). The only exception to the single-seater theme is an event for front-engined sports-racing cars from 1952-57. Practice begins on Friday, with qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday.
Ostensibly a regularity run open to cars that competed in the legendary Italian road race between 1927 and 1957, the modern Mille Miglia is about the most extravagant, anarchic and spectacular road-based historic event in the world. The quality, quantity and sheer value of the competing cars is jaw-dropping, likewise the gusto with which many are driven. And while the 1000-mile route is now run over four days, the opportunity to see such machinery flat out through quintessentially Italian landscape remains one of the great spectacles in the historic motor sport world. The official competitive element may have been toned down, but the Mille’s spirit is very much intact.
Le Mans Classic
A biennial celebration of the world’s most famous 24-hour race, the Le Mans Classic returns this summer. It’s an amazing opportunity to see the cars – and some drivers – that have made their mark on the event since its first running in 1923. Whatever your favourite era, it will be represented. The competitive element? Four races apiece for six groups of cars, starting in daylight and running through the night. You’ll see everything from Blower Bentleys to D-types via Porsche 917s. There will also be a Group C race, plus demonstrations, club parades and thousands of cars on display in addition to the 600 racing on track. Porsche’s 70th anniversary is likely to be the dominant theme.
If the nostalgia-fest and dressing up of the Revival leave you cold, the Silverstone Classic’s more workmanlike vibe and wider range of racing might make it more appealing. The venue can’t match Goodwood for charm or period authenticity, but its huge size means it can accommodate a vast range of displays, club gatherings and other distractions, so it has a distinctive appeal all its own. Much of the racing is of the pre-66 variety, but the classic also hosts rounds of the FIA Masters series for endurance racers, classic F1 cars and much else besides. Low on gimmickry, high on content, it’s the no-fuss, high-intensity choice for enthusiasts.
AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix
Approaching its 46th edition, the Oldtimer Grand Prix features a huge variety of races for everything from single-seaters and classic touring cars to modern endurance racers. Porsche will be marking another opportunity to celebrate its 70th anniversary – and the 30th birthday of the 964-era 911 makes this a double celebration. The Oldtimer Grand Prix is also a chance to catch the various Masters historic championships on one of the most celebrated tracks in the calendar. The recently introduced Endurance Legends series, for sports cars and GTs raced between 1995 and 2012, is likely to be a real highlight.
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
If you want to do it properly, Monterey Car Week hosts a huge number of concours, auctions and other events, the Motorsports Reunion providing an antidote to shiny cars parked on golf lawns with a chance to see them in action at Laguna Seca. The racing can appear somewhat genteel compared with harder-fought European historic events, but the quality of the participants and attractions of the venue are clear enough. And there’s no lack of diversity, 2018’s running taking in everything from pre-1940 sports, touring and racing cars to ’70s and ’80s IMSA and Trans-Am heavyweights. It’s also a chance to see Can-Am cars in action on a track where they raced for real in period – and that alone justifies the trip.
August 31-September 2
Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix
Perhaps less well known than some of the other European mainstream events, the Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix has no lack of exciting racing, this being another outing for various of the Masters series for historic F1 cars and the usual support categories. New for this year is the official FIA Historic Formula 3 Cup for cars dating from 1971 to 1984, Zandvoort being the only date in the calendar where all four FIA historic championships run together. Another highlight will be for Tourenwagen Classics, reuniting iconic DTM cars like the Mercedes 190E Evo and BMW M3 with the drivers who made their name in them back in the day.
Always a highlight of the historic racing calendar, 2018 signals the 20th anniversary of Goodwood’s signature race meeting – and the 21st running. For many the sideshows of period dress, fashion finery, air displays and good-natured nostalgia are a major draw, but behind the theatrics Goodwood regularly delivers on the racing. You’ll find some of the closest, hardest-fought battles you’ll see anywhere, with stellar drivers and the very best cars. The Festival of Speed might have a more diverse range of machinery, but the quality of the competition gives the Revival added appeal (and the same applies to the Members’ Meeting, March 17-18).
Spa Six Hours
It goes without saying that Spa-Francorchamps is a superb venue at which to watch any type of racing, but historic cars are especially evocative on this most spectacular of tracks. And the Six Hours is a high-quality event, hosting a wide range of sprint races as curtain-raisers to the main six-hour endurance for pre-66 racing cars. Five Masters championships will be present too, including pre-66 touring and GT cars, Endurance Legends and FIA Historic F1 and Sports Cars. Added attractions include rounds of the Jaguar Classic Challenge, among many more.
Circuit Des Remparts D’Angoulême
Running the same weekend as the Spa Six Hours, the Circuit des Remparts d’Angoulême demonstrates that the passion and enthusiasm for historic racing is sufficient to sustain a fixture clash. This charming French street race has a unique atmosphere all its own. Its compact track is less than a mile long, but the old town surroundings couldn’t be more evocative or distinctively French, this being a great event for fans of machinery from the eclectic end of the historic racing spectrum – as well as more familiar Bugattis and ERAs. With rallies around the local region, eccentric entry lists and a charming location, this is truly an event unlike any other.
October 26-November 2
Peter Auto Imola Classic
Peter Auto runs a full programme of historic events at circuits across Europe, all featuring high quality grids and superb racing. If you’re going to choose one to visit, the finale at one of Italy’s most beautiful and evocative tracks has to hold particular appeal, the circuit’s location in the heart of supercar country meaning it can easily form part of an extended stay in the area. Racing includes the new 2.0L Cup for pre-66 short-wheelbase Porsche 911s, Classic Endurance Racing for cars competing between 1966 and 1981, ’60s and ’70s Formula 2 Classics, Group C, the Heritage Touring Cup for tin-tops competing in the ETCC between 1966 and 1984, Sixties Endurance and a race for ’50s and ’60s sports cars.
VHRR Historic Sandown, Victoria
For those addicted to YouTube videos of Peter Brock manhandling V8 Commodores around Bathurst, or Mark Skaife and Jim Richards monstering all before them in Nissan Skylines, the Australian Heritage Touring Car Series is a great chance to see the golden era of Aussie tin-top racing celebrated in suitable style. Open to Group C touring cars from 1973-1984 and Group A cars from 1985-1992, everything you see is an original racer competing in correct period livery. The Victoria Historic Racing Register runs it at Sandown, which – like its British namesake – also hosts horse racing. The fast, unforgiving circuit around its perimeter is all about horsepower on four wheels.
Sound of Engine, Suzuka
If you want something a little more exotic than the usual historic racing event, the distinctively Japanese Sound of Engine at Suzuka should be on your to-do list. Inspired by a commemorative event in 2012, celebrating Suzuka’s 50th anniversary, Sound of Engine became a regular event in 2015 and has been growing in stature ever since. The 2018 event will include guest races from the Masters USA championship for 3.0-litre Formula 1 cars dating from 1966 to 1985 and much more besides. Expect suitably enthusiastic crowds at this most evocative of Japanese tracks, which first hosted Japan’s Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1987.