Saloon aces on parade
Touring car champions to star at historic events | By Paul Lawrence
The boom in popularity of the current British Touring Car Championship – and the buzz around the cars that raced in the Super Touring era – shows no sign of abating as BTCC drivers take leading roles at the biggest classic festivals of the summer.
Double BTCC champion Jason Plato is one of the first stars to be confirmed for the Goodwood Revival Meeting in September. As well as racing an ex-Alan Mann Racing Ford Prefect with TV chef James Martin in the St Mary’s Trophy, Plato will share the mighty Chevrolet Corvette Stingray of Craig Davies in the TT Revival.
“The last thing I drove around there was Mike Knight’s Corvette Stingray,” Plato said. “That was in the TT and I scared myself stupid, so I’ve now got that to look forward to again! Goodwood is my favourite event of the year – I love it.”
Several touring car champions will be in action at the Silverstone Classic at the end of July, when 2009 BTCC winner Colin Turkington makes his historic racing debut in a Ford Galaxie.
His rivals will include triple British champion Matt Neal (Lotus Cortina) and 2012 WTCC king Rob Huff (Mini Cooper).
Meanwhile, the Super Touring cars were a real hit when they joined the schedule for the BTCC weekend at Oulton Park in June. James Dodd took his Honda Accord to a brace of wins ahead of John Cleland’s Vauxhall Vectra.
Throughout the weekend, ’95 champion Cleland was in demand from the fans. “I think a lot of people remember the days when touring car racing was all about two dozen professional drivers being paid to drive cars, which was all good stuff,” said the experienced Scot. “A lot of people came to see us at Oulton Park, which was quite encouraging.”
Second Project 214 replica
A detailed replica of the rare Aston Martin Project 214 has taken to the track this season in the hands of marque enthusiast Robert Rawe. Only one of the two period cars remains and one other replica is known to exist.
The two original DP214s were built in 1963 for GT racing and were based on the DB4 chassis but only one survived the era. Rawe commissioned a faithful replica of the car and will be racing it in a livery the original wore in the Sebring 12 Hours.
“We started with a wreck of a DB4 road car, which had been in a farmyard for 30 years,” Rawe said. “We worked from original drawings and picked the best people to do each element of the build. It’s an exact replica and I’m thrilled to bits with it.” Rawe is contesting AMOC events this season, including the Innes Ireland Cup.
Mike Walker races again
More than 40 years after his promising single-seater racing career stalled, Mike Walker has returned to the sport to race the Formula Junior Bond in selected events.
Worcestershire-based Walker, now 68, progressed through Formula 3 and Formula 5000 and had a chance to join the Surtees F2 team before being forced to quit the sport through lack of finance.
Forty-two years after he stopped racing, Walker made a competition comeback at Brands Hatch in the rare front-engined Bond Formula Junior (below) after being invited to race the car by its preparer Andrew Tart.
“My last race was at the end of the 1972 season, when I returned to Formula 3 with the works Ensign,” said Walker. “I found it very difficult to walk away from the sport.
“I’ve known Andrew for a few years and he asked if I’d consider coming back and doing some racing. I’ve been amazed by the number of people who remember me, it has been brilliant.”
Endeavour’s Jag reappears
More than 50 years since it last raced, an ex-Equipe Endeavour Jaguar Mk1 returns to racing this year in the hands of Kent hotelier Chris Scragg.
One of a handful of special Mk1s built for the 1959 season, it features 3.4-litre XK150 cylinder heads and specially built triple carburettors on unique manifolds. The cars had aluminium bonnets and boots and three ally doors, but a steel driver’s door for safety.
The car that marque expert Michael Wilkinson is rebuilding for Scragg went to Tommy Sopwith’s Equipe Endeavour team. It was raced to eight wins from nine starts by Ivor Bueb during 1959, but was made obsolete at the end of the season by the debut of the Jaguar Mk2.
“As I understand, the car hasn’t raced since Ivor Bueb drove it in 1959,” Scragg said.
Llewellin Jr aims high
Ben Llewellin, 20-year-old son of double British rally champion Dai, is making a big impact in historic rallying this season. On the recent Severn Valley Stages he was close to matching the times of established Escort Mk2 drivers Nick Elliott and Richard Hill.
His father was British champion in 1989 and ’90 and now Ben is fitting a rallying programme around competitive clay pigeon shooting, with support from fellow Escort driver Jonathan Brace.
“I enjoyed rallying a modern-specification Escort, but the RAC Championship for historic cars is great,” the Haverfordwest driver said.
UK classics set for Daytona
A chance to race at Daytona Speedway is being offered to UK drivers with classic or historic cars. It applies to a new event in November 2015.
“We’re aiming to take up to 300 cars from the UK,” said race organiser Richard Culverhouse. “Everyone will get four sprint races and two one-hour enduros. The cars will ship mid-October and return in late December.”
There will be races for sports, GT and touring cars on the Florida track, which includes part of the famous banking.
The complete package includes flights, shipping, accommodation and entry fees; UK entrants will need HANS devices.
Former world rally champion Stig Blomqvist will contest September’s five-day Classic Rally of South Africa in a Porsche 911 from the Banbury-based Tuthill team. The Swedish ace (67), world champion in 1984, will compete alongside the similar car of John Lloyd. The new event includes more than 500 miles of special stages through the spectacular Mpumalanga District.
The MSA has announced that the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club Ltd is set to take over the promotion and organisation of the MSA British Historic Rally Championship for the next five years. After more than a decade in the hands of the Historic Rally Car Register, the BHRC will now move to the team responsible for the RAC Rally Championship.