Wheel to wheel -- the month in historic motorsport

Edited by Paul Lawrence

Big plans for VSCC Oulton -- VSCC and Jonathan Palmer align to create major historic festival

The return of the Vintage Sports Car Club to Oulton Park in May is part of a multi-year plan by circuit owner Jonathan Palmer to establish a second major classic event at the Cheshire track.

On Saturday May 28 the VSCC will take its Hawthorn Trophies meet to Oulton, the first time in five years that the club has raced at the track. Traditionally these races have been run at Silverstone, but they will now become a regular fixture at the north-western venue.

"We are keen to re-establish a strong relationship with the VSCC and as such the Hawthorn Trophies meeting has been scheduled into Oulton Park's calendar until at least 2007," said Palmer. "I believe that by then we will have developed the meeting into one of the season's major historic racing attractions, and that it will go from strength to strength."

The three races dedicated to the 1958 F1 world champion are the Hawthorn Memorial Trophy for pre-1961 front-engined Formula One, Formula Two and Tasman cars, the Hawthorn Spanish Trophy for pre-1952 racing cars and the Hawthorn International Trophy for 1950s sports-racing cars.

In addition, the 10-race meeting will feature a pre-1966 HGPCA race, the Boulogne Trophy for vintage racing cars and the Brooklands and Goddard Trophies for large-engined Brooklands cars.

"The VSCC has a long and successful history with Oulton Park and the circuit lends itself perfectly to the gorgeous and fascinating cars that compete in their events," added Palmer. "We are keen to offer race fans in the North West the best in historic and vintage motorsport, exemplified by the Oulton Park Gold Cup and Hawthorn Memorial Trophies meeting."

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Chevron feature marque at Gold Cup

The 40th anniversary of Chevron will be the feature celebration at the Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting on August 28-29. A race dedicated to cars from the company created by Derek Bennett will be central to the event, while many former Chevron drivers are being invited to attend.

Helen Bashford-Malkie of Chevron Racing Cars Ltd is co-ordinating the Chevron presence and has already confirmed that former works driver Brian Redman will attend. This is an important chance for us to gather together as many ex-Chevron drivers as possible for a reunion," said Malkie.

The first Chevron, the B1 Clubmans car, is being restored by Vin Malkie and will race at the event along with numerous B6s, B8s, B16s, Bl9s and a host of single-seaters. The rest of the meeting will include a full programme of HSCC events and an HGPCA drum-braked sportscar race.

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Date changes

The dates for two of Britain's main historic events have moved after final confirmation that Silverstone will feature on the 2005 F1 schedule.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed, initially planned for the weekend that has now been allocated to the British Grand Prix (July 9-10), will be held over the weekend of June 24-26 instead.

The new Silverstone Historic Festival has moved from June to the weekend of July 30-31, previously allocated to the BRDC 500 meeting. It is thought that the wishes of a title sponsor are among the reasons for the switch, which takes the new event to the date traditionally used by the major Silverstone historic festival through the 1990s, when it was supported by Christies and Coys. Specific content for the July 30-31 event has yet to be confirmed.

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Feeling groovy

Top Hat Racing has unveiled plans for a race series for 1970s saloons to run in parallel to the existing Top Hat series for pre-66 cars. The new series will be titled 'Groovy Baby'. Top Hat supremo Julius Thurgood is optimistic that he can muster significant support for races at Castle Combe, Donington, Chimay, Spa and Mallory Park.

In addition to racing saloons from the 1970s, the new series is also designed to accommodate cars from the competitive but poorly supported GTA Challenge for 105-series Alfa Romeos (and close relations) as well as non-Appendix K cars, which will no longer be accepted in Top Hat races.

The Top Hat historic racing season kicks off at Castle Combe on Easter Monday, March 23.

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Juha for Safari

Juha Kankkunen will contest the 2005 East African Safari Rally in a Datsun 240Z. The Finnish star is the latest ex-world rally champion to commit to the event and will line up against former sparring partner Stig Blomqvist.

"I have always enjoyed the Safari Rally, the beauty of this very special country and the friendliness of its people." said Kankkunen. "I heard from competitors in the 2003 East African Safari Rally that this event is run how it used to be."

Following the 50th anniversary event in 2003, the Safari returns later this year, running from December 1-10. Half of the 60 available entries are already taken.

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250Fs to 'See Red'

The VSCC's 'See Red' meeting at Donington Park in September will celebrate the history of the Maserati 250F grand prix car. Along with what is hoped will be the biggest-ever gathering of 250Fs, a special race for pre-1961 Maserati GP cars will headline the September 3-4 event.

With over 30 original cars and more than a dozen replicas or recreations in existence, the VSCC is hoping to attract around 40 250Fs, either to race or for display.

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LE JOG runs and runs

The future of the Land's End-John O'Groats Classic Reliability Trial is secure even though John Brown is standing down from organising the annual winter trek up the length of Great Britain.

Having run the event for 10 years, Brown is now concentrating on events for modern 4x4 vehicles. However, a new team has come forward to take on the event and will continue to organise LE JOG under the banner of the Historic Endurance Rally Organisation.

"Everything will be the same except that I won't be in charge," said Brown. The new team will also run the Classic Malts Trial in 2006 after the Scottish event has been rested this year.

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Maverick for TGP

Maverick Motorsport plans to field a two-car team in this season's Thoroughbred Grand Prix series with Belgian racer Alain de Wagter leading its driving strength.

After two years in F2 Chevrons, de Wagter will now move up to an ex-Jochen Mass/Carlos Pace/John Watson Surtees TS16.

Maverick, headed by Steven Worrad, will also enter an ex-Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow DN5 for suitably funded drivers in TGP and GP Masters events. This UOP-sponsored, Tony Southgate-designed machine has not been seen in competition for 20 years.

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Watson for Tour Britannia

John Watson is the first high-profile competitor to confirm his intention to contest the Tour Britannia in September. If current plans are realised, he will drive a Porsche 911 in the four-day race and rally event that will be based at Silverstone.

"It has to be a good car as I still feel intensely competitive," said Watson, a long-time 911 fan who has not driven in anger for more than a decade. "If you go into it you've got to be fully committed"

Watson is likely to drive a Porsche 911 from Francis Tuthill's stable in the inaugural event and will come up against former GT star Ray Bellm (Ford GT40). "I'm not going to have Ray come over and say 'I beat you'," joked Watson of his fellow BRDC leading light.

Other early entries for the Tour include Le Mans old hand Nick Faure (Porsche 356) and Michael Schryver in a Chevron.

"We've already had a real variety of entries," reported organiser Fred Gallagher, who is delighted with the early response to the event.

The route is also developing, with more Tarmac stages being introduced. Gallagher expects to have as many as 12 stages as well as four races.