Historic racing at Val de Vienne: three days of magic

From the Long Car Race at Donington to historic grand prix machinery at Val de Vienne, it’s been a hectic month for VSCC driver Justin Maeers

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Since we last checked in, it’s been another busy month in the Maeers stable, with races in both the UK and France – and I have two highlights in particular to talk about.

The Vintage Sports-Car Club held its usual hillclimb at Harewood before moving on to the second race meeting of the season at Donington Park, and the star of that event was undoubtedly the Longstone Tyres-supported Long Car Race.

“Another competitor loaned me a spare so I could rebuild the car”

Long cars are the heavier, slower sorts of cars that used to come out and race with the VSCC regularly, but interest in driving them waned over the years, so the VSCC is now actively recreating an environment suitable for these fabulous cars to race in. Because the cars are standard and have similar performance the racing is very close and exciting. It’s always good fun to be a part of and to watch. My son Ben raced our Vauxhall 30-98 in the Long Car Race, and he was also due to compete with the Parker GN on the day but a broken wheel spoke meant he couldn’t run it safely – and it’s not especially easy to find spare wheels for that car in a hurry!

As for me, I didn’t go to Donington (I know, I know… the shame!) as instead I’d accepted an invitation to take my pair of Cooper historic grand prix cars to France to be part of the HGPCA races at the centre of the Sport et Collection meeting at Val de Vienne.

Champagne is sprayed on the podium at the Val de Vienne historic racing meetingI would urge anyone with an interest in cars to try this meeting. It’s mostly noncompetitive and there are hordes of supercars and sports cars invited from owners’ clubs all around Europe and they take to the track for three straight days from 8am until 11pm… it’s magical. In the middle of the Ferraris and Porsches, etc, the HGPCA was invited to stage two races, and the turnout was wonderful. We had to split the grids for front- and rear-engined cars and still had 18 cars in each set. I drove my T53 and Charlie Martin handled the T51.

In race one I started fourth but broke a driveshaft. Fortunately, the camaraderie of the club is such that another competitor loaned me a replacement so I could rebuild the car for Sunday and I went from the back of the grid to second at the flag, which was exhilarating. Val de Vienne is a wonderful circuit, challenging for drivers of all skill levels. I can’t wait to go back.

For now, I feel I’ve earned a holiday, plus I’ve a lot of work to do to get ready for both the VSCC’s next race event at Silverstone and the Oulton Park Gold Cup that will highlight July. Before then though, I feel the beach calling me…

Next month: Getting ready to spar at Silverstone and shine at the Gold Cup

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