Orwell’s big bangers at Brands — HSCC Superprix: Brands Hatch, July 23/24
The only UK appearance of the year for the Orwell Supersports Cup is one of the features of the annual HSCC Superprix at Brands Hatch on July 23/24. As ever, crammed grids will pack the Kent track as historic racers get the chance to let rip on the glorious Grand Prix circuit.
It’s a weekend with a real ‘big-banger’ theme, for the Supersports Cup is having a resurgence of support from Can-Am cars this season and around half a dozen are due at Brands, including the McLaren M8s of Richard Piper and John Grant and the sensational 8-litre March 707/717 piloted by local hero Frank Bradley. Series promoter Silvio Kalb currently leads the 2-litre pack in his March 76S.
Thundering Chevys will also dominate the Derek Bell Trophy race as the nine-strong New Zealand contingent joins a large European field to put more than 20 Formula 5000s on the grid. It’s the biggest field since the renaissance of the class and includes visitors Noel Atley (Begg), David Abbott (Lola T430) and John Crawford (McRae GM1). Simon Hadfield (Chevron B37) and Frank Lyons (Lola T332) head the home contingent.
Also on for the first weekend of a UK double-header, culminating with the Silverstone Classic, is the Group C/GTP field.
Other highlights include a round of the BRDC Historic Sportscar Championship, in which Julian Bronson will be hoping that the GP circuit will give his Lister-Chevrolet the chance to outgun the 2-litre cars of Graeme Dodd (Cooper Monaco) and Philip Walker (Lotus 15).
Hundred years of Worcester sorcery — Shelsley Walsh Centenary, August 19-21
For three days in August, Shelsley Walsh will echo to the sounds of racing engines as the longest surviving motorsport venue in the world celebrates 100 years of speed hillclimbing.
It was on August 12 1905 that the Midland Automobile Club first used the short and steep hill up the side of the Teme Valley in rural Worcestershire. That day EMC Instone set the first hill record at 77.6sec on his 35hp Daimler. Now the mark stands at less than 24sec, but the course remains the same.
Now with the venue finally secure for another 100 years, it’s party time. While Friday and Saturday are set aside for a round of the British Hillclimb Championship, Sunday is all about nostalgia as the full 100-year history of the hill and the men and machines that have competed over the decades are celebrated.
Each era of Shelsley history will have its own class of cars, while other categories are dedicated to former hillclimb champions and hill record holders. ERA, so pivotal to the Shelsley story, will have its own class, topped by Mac Hulbert in R4D, the car driven by Raymond Mays to such effect at Shelsley. Another seven ERAs will chase Hulbert, including David Morris in R11B.
Around 170 cars will compete on Sunday, topped by representatives from the current generation of hillclimb single-seaters.
Elsewhere, the BRM P48 that Tony Marsh took to one of his six hillclimb titles will be handled by Guy Spollon and all three of Patsy Burt’s hillclimb cars — two Coopers and a McLaren — will be together for the first time.
The list of attractions is endless and a massive crowd is expected. To cope, car parking will be available at the top of the hill as well and will be signposted. Practice on Friday runs from 10am to 5.30pm. Saturday has practice from 9.30am and timed runs from 11.15am. On Sunday practice starts early at 8.30am, with timed runs from 11am. It’s an event that won’t be repeated until the bicentenary!
Will Wuensch be wunderbar again? — Oldtimer Grand Prix: Nürburgring, August 13/14
Now established for 33 years, the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix has a rightful position as one of the top three European historic festivals. As ever, the August event will feature crammed paddocks and wall-to-wall racing for a mix of international and German classes.
Headlining is Grand Prix Masters, with a double header forming the fifth date on the calendar for 3-litre F1 cars. A 25-strong field is expected, with recent Dijon winner Peter Wuensch (Wolf WR1) likely to be at the head of the action.
Up to 40 cars will contest the pair of 30-minute World Sportscar Masters races, including a gaggle of Lola T70s topped by Allen Lloyd. The Matra MS650 of Abba Kogan and the Ligier JS2 of Paul Knapfield add variety, while the Chevron B16 pack includes Jon Minshaw, José Albuquerque and Chris Ball.
McLaren M8s, Lolas and Marches will deliver the thunder in the Orwell International Supersports Cup, while the HGPCA has a major presence with races for Grand Prix cars split into pre-61 and pre-66 as well as a race for drum-braked sportscars. A typically frenetic FIA Lurani Trophy Formula Junior race runs in two parts, early on each morning.
Back on the festival circuit — Silverstone Classic, July 30/31
Silverstone is back on the map of historic festivals. Now titled the Silverstone Classic, the meeting has all the ingredients needed to rebuild an event that once set the standard for multi-day racing festivals.
With a stunning 17-race programme containing virtually all the jewels of European classic and historic racing, an entry list that is set to top the 500 mark and a new long-term commitment from the BRDC and Silverstone, this just has to be a highlight of the season.
The awesome programme has races spanning 60 years of F1 development: from the pre-war HGPCA machinery through to Thoroughbred Grand Prix by way of Grand Prix Masters, there is F1 racing for all generations. For the first time TGP and GPM share the same bill, competing respectively for the Silverstone International Trophy and the James Hunt Trophy.
Sportscar fans are in for just as big a treat. From pre-war leviathans in the BRDC 500 through drum-braked sports, BRDC Historic Sports and on to World Sportscar Masters and Group C/GTP, it will be possible to trace sportscar racing history from the 1920s to the ’80s.
Grids are invariably oversubscribed — some massively — such is the buzz around the event. The entry list includes Frank Sytner, Duncan Dayton, Jackie Oliver, Willie Green, Barrie Williams, Simon Hadfield, John Fitzpatrick, Alan Mann… the list goes on and on.
Each day offers a full programme of racing, with eight races on Saturday starting at 10.50am and a further nine on Sunday starting at 11.20am.
Walloons burst with excitement — Chimay Race Festival, July 23/24
Once a year the public roads around the Belgian town of Chimay are closed for competition as the town remembers a racing history that goes right back to the 1920s. The result is a relaxed and unpressured weekend.
While the events for single-seaters are classed as demonstrations rather than races, the Top Hat movement is central to the racing programme with events for Top Hat saloons and Cloth Cap sports and GT.
Heading the saloon field is the Ford Mustang of Chris Chiles and Paul Ingram, which won at Pau after having some early-season gremlins sorted. But the nimble Alfa Romeo GTAs of Jon Shipman/Mark Hales and Peter Sugden/Peter Rutt are expected to give the American V8s a really hard time. Among the older cars is the splendid Alvis Grey Lady of Ivan Dutton and Adam Gittings.
Shipman/Hales are also likely to feature strongly in the Cloth Cap race as they wheel out Shipman’s Crosslé 9S for the first time this season. John Young/Chris Ballard (Aston Martin DB4) and Antonio Bertini’s ex-works Speedwell Sprite are other notable entries.
Not just two Jags for Prescott — VSCC: Prescott, August 6/7
The biggest hillclimb weekend of the VSCC season will pit a 200-strong entry against the classic Gloucestershire hill over the weekend of August 6/7. As ever, the event is heavily oversubscribed.
While James Baxter will urge his Frazer Nash single-seater into competition against the ERAs for overall glory, myriad class battles will entertain all day long. For sheer spectacle, the GN Vitesse of Duncan Pittaway and the 24-litre Napier-Bentley of Chris Williams will be tough to beat, along with James Diffey aboard a 1924 Bugatti Brescia, while an excellent Edwardian field includes the splendid Piccard Pictet of David Baker.
Saturday is set aside for practice from 9am; timed runs start at 10am on Sunday.
Race Programme — check out where the action is…
When & where: 23/24, Chimay (B)
What: Historic Race Festival with Top Hat Racing
Contact: www.circuit.be/ historycar%20anglais.htm
When & where: 23/24, Brands Hatch
What: HSCC Superprix. including International Supersports and Group C/GTP. Admission: £12
Contact: Tel: 01474 872331; www.motorsportvision.co.uk
When & where: 24, Mallory Park
What: VSCC Race Meeting. Admission: £10
Contact: Tel 01608644777: www.vscc.co.uk
When & where: 28-30, Isle of Man
What: Manx Historic Rally, round six of the Armajaro MSA BHRC
When & where: 29-31, Silverstone
What: Silverstone Classic, including TGP, HGPCA, GP Masters and Group C/GTP. Admission: £10 (in advance)
Contact: Tel: 01327 857271; www.silverstoneclassic.com
When & where: 6, Castle Combe
What: HSCC races including Derek Bell Trophy and Historic Racing Saloons. Admission: £10
Contact: 01249 782417: www.castlecombecircuit.co.uk
When & where: 6/7, Prescott
What: VSCC hilIclimb. Admission £25
Contact: Tel 01608 644777; www.vscc.co.uk
When & where:12-14, Nürburgring (D)
What: Oldtimer GP, including HGPCA and GP Masters
When & where 19-21, Shelsley Walsh
What: Shelsley 100 celebration meeting. Admission: £15
When & where: 20/21, Laguna Seca (USA)
What: Rolex Monterey Historic races
When & where: 28/29, Oulton Park
What: Gold Cup meeting, including HGPCA drum-braked sports, BRDC Historic Sportscars and Gentleman Drivers. Admission: £12