Historic racing news

Combe Classic is big hit
Next year’s event already at the planning stage | by Paul Lawrence

The Castle Combe Autumn Classic has been hailed as one of the best events at the Wiltshire track for many years, after the annual festival came of age in 2014.

“I think that’s the best event we’ve run for a very long time,” said circuit marketing boss Rodney Gooch, for whom the October event was a pre-retirement swansong.

Fans turned out in their thousands, many in period style and classic cars, for the day of historic and classic racing in a programme topped by the return of Le Mans winner Andy Wallace at the wheel of a Jaguar D-type. Wallace competed in the Norman Dewis Trophy – his first race at Castle Combe since his 1984 Formula Ford 2000 campaign.

Meanwhile, 500cc F3 cars appeared at the circuit for the first time in 59 years in the final round of the 500 Owners Association Championship. An excellent 24-car grid lined up, including Belgian racer Maurice van der Brempt in the one-off Fillingham. 500cc F3s featured at the very first Castle Combe meeting in July 1951.

The event also celebrated the history of Bristol Cars, with the biggest ever gathering of vehicles, and nearby hillclimb venue Dyrham Park, which was last used in 1966. The Bristol Motor Club presented a car display under the ‘essence of Dyrham’ theme.

There were notable demonstrations by Mark Hales, at the wheel of Nick Mason’s Maserati 250F, and event sponsor Julian Bronson, in his front-engined Scarab Grand Prix car.

Plans are now being formulated for next season’s fourth edition of the Autumn Classic.

2015 schedule takes shape

Next year’s major historic race meeting calendar is coming together and will include the 25th anniversary edition of the Silverstone Classic (July 24-26). The first International Historic Festival took place at Silverstone in July 1990 and plans are now being made to celebrate the silver anniversary in fitting style.

The season will start at Goodwood with the 73rd Members’ Meeting on March 21/22. Other key dates in the calendar include the Race Retro show at Stoneleigh Park on February 20-22, the Donington Historic Festival on May 2-4, the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 25-28 and the Goodwood Revival on September 11-13.

Boost for 1-litre F2

The 1-litre era of Formula 2 racing is enjoying a revival thanks to the efforts of car owners Roger Fowler and Kevin Whittle. A meeting for all interested parties is being organised in Banbury on November 20.

F2 ran to 1-litre engine regulations for only three seasons, from 1964 to 1966, and it is now hoped to create an association to promote the cars. They are likely to continue to race within the HSCC’s Classic Racing Car Championship. “We’re just trying to raise awareness,” said Fowler. “They are lovely looking cars.”

Fowler has recently brought an ex-Midland Racing Partnership Lola T60 back from Australia and hopes to have it ready to race by next spring.

He can be contacted via rogerfowler222@btinternet.com.

Another title for Stokes

David Stokes and Guy Weaver (Ford Escort MkI) have won the MSA British Historic Rally Championship for the fourth time in eight years (below).

In another fine season for the Gloucestershire veteran, who started rallying in the late 1960s, Stokes added the BHRC title to his Category 2 title in the R.A.C. Rally Championship.

Meanwhile, Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride were confirmed as runners-up after the final round, the McRae Stages. It took a tie-break to split the Porsche 911 crew from Ford Escort MkI driver and fellow Northern Irishman Stanley Orr. Nutt and McBride also clinched the Category 1 title in their 1967 Porsche.

Young’s TR7 outing

Endurance rally organiser Philip Young will contest November’s Roger Albert Clark Rally in an ex-works Triumph TR7 V8 and has enlisted the services of former works co-driver Hans Sylvan.

“We’re not out to beat anybody, just to remind the world what a wonderful sound they make and what a fantastic white-knuckle drive they are,” Young said.

Young has contested the Monte Carlo Historique in recent years, once with an ex-works Austin Healey 3000 that he likens to the TR7. He said, “It’s very hot, with poor vision, you sit on the axle and get blisters on your left hand and both feet.”

Alternatives hit the road

Two of the most significant additions to the historic rally scene made encouraging debuts on the recent Trackrod Historic Cup, as Rally Sport Developments’ Fiat 131 and Mellors Elliott’s Toyota Celica RA40 took on the all-conquering Ford Escort Mk2s.

Former BHRC champion Julian Reynolds drove the eagerly awaited Fiat and the car showed decent speed before retiring with gearbox problems.

Meanwhile, Ben Mellors took the untried Toyota to a good finish. Both cars drew widespread interest and both preparation companies now have the facility to build cars for customers looking for Escort alternatives.

Historic rally dates fixed

The calendar for the new-look MSA British Historic Rally Championship has been announced, with two events joining the schedule for the first time as the BHRC starts a new era under the control of the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club.

The season-opening Red Kite Stages and the Neath Valley Stages are both included for the first time at this level.

February 1 Red Kite Stages
March 1 Mid Wales Stages
April 25 Pirelli Rally
May 30 Severn Valley Stages
July 26 Harry Flatters Rally
August 15 Neath Valley Stages
September 17-19 Isle of Man Classic
September 17-19 Trackrod Historic Cup

In brief

A trophy in memory of Denis Welch, who died at the Silverstone Classic in July, was presented after the HRDC Touring Greats race at Donington Park in October. “At the request of friends and fellow competitors, we are awarding the Denis Welch Celebration Trophy,” said HRDC founder Julius Thurgood. Welch, who was in a Lotus 18 at the time of his crash, was a regular entrant in Touring Greats in a Jensen 541R.

The Boucles de Spa, the biggest historic rally in Europe, will have a new look in 2015 when it moves base from Spa under the new name of Legend Boucles. The February 21 event will run in the Bastogne region following successful sections there in 2014. “There are many reasons for this,” said organiser Pierre Delettre. “It was more and more cramped in Spa and the rally was less and less welcome.”