Historic racing

Californian invasion 

West Coast Specials set for Trans-Atlantic challenge

A group of American racing sports cars from the late 1940s and early 1950s could be in action in Europe next summer in a new trans-Atlantic challenge. The plan is to bring up to 10 American cars, including Californian road racing specials, to Europe to race against cars from the period at venues such as Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Spa. The 1948-1955 Trans-Atlantic Sports Racing Car Challenge is the brainchild of Californian Rob Manson, who owns several period cars and regularly commutes to the UK to race
a Mallock Clubmans car.

“Just seeing the cars outside the USA for the first time would be fun for spectators, plus they are fast, slippery, and make a fun noise, especially the V8 flatheads,” he said.

The road racing specials were part of the larger post-war California hot-rod movement, gaining power and speed from stock engines. As many as 40 of these unique cars, such as the 1949 Baldwin Mercury Special, the 1953 Tatum GMC Special, the 1949 Parkinson Jaguar Special and the 1952 Streets Manning V8 Special have survived and are raced regularly in US West Coast events. 

However, very few have been seen outside California, though Ernie Nagamatsu’s Ol’ Yeller II has raced at Goodwood, and other relevant cars are being invited to make the trip to Europe. If all goes to plan, the European cars will be invited to race in North America in a return challenge in 2017.

Donington additions

An ex-Gilles Villeneuve 1980 Ferrari 312T5 and the ex-Mario Andretti Martini Racing Team Lotus 80 from 1979 are new headline exhibits at the Donington Park Grand Prix Collection.

Several significant additions to the collection include the rare ex-Frank Williams Racing De Tomaso 505, raced in 1970 by Piers Courage, Brian Redman and Tim Schenken. New in Hall Five are a 1954 Jaguar D-Type and the rare 1963 British Racing Partnership 1.5-litre F1 car
of Innes Ireland.

“It’s a real privilege to have a car driven by Villeneuve on display here,” said Collection Manager Garry Rankin.

Healey returns to Le Mans

More than 40 years after the company’s final assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours, the rare Austin Healey SR will return to the French track in 2016 in the hands of Belgian owner Paul Grant.

Donald Healey conceived the SR to put his company back into the racing spotlight and it was built in a degree of secrecy. The car used a 2-litre Coventry Climax engine and was driven by Andrew Hedges and Clive Baker in the 1968 24-hour race. It retired with clutch problems and a year later was put out by head-gasket failure.

Grant has owned the spare chassis for many years, but has seldom raced it as it was fitted with an Oldsmobile engine. Now he has installed the correct Coventry Climax engine for the
Le Mans Classic in July.

“The car is perfect and it will be the first time that the SR has been to Le Mans since 1969,” said Grant.

Dates for the diary

More dates for major events in 2016 have been announced, topped by the Silverstone Classic, which will run on July 29-31.

The schedule will include FIA Masters Historic F1, Pre-1966 GT and Super Touring races as well as a special Can-Am celebration race to mark 50 years of the sports car category. The 2015 event drew more than 100,000 visitors and tickets for next year are now on sale.

The annual Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, the speed event in the grounds of the Cheshire castle, will run on June 10-12. Meanwhile, the ‘Flywheel’ event at the former RAF Bicester will be repeated over the weekend of July 2-3. 

Kop Hill boosts coffers

The annual Kop Hill Climb revival raised £70,000 for charity during the 2015 edition when it ran on the hill near Princes Risborough in September.

The non-competitive event has now raised more than £300,000 in seven years as it celebrates the history of a hillclimb that originally ran from 1910 to 1925, when an injury to a spectator curtailed the event and led to a ban on competitive events on the public road.

A record crowd of 16,500 attended in 2015, and the date for next season has been confirmed as September 17-18.

‘A’ Series expansion

HRDC Race promoter Julius Thurgood plans to run more races next season for his ‘A’ Series Challenge after a successful end-of-season trial race at Donington Park. The category is open to all pre-1966 cars, both saloons and sports, using the BMC engine.

Thurgood will add the ‘A’ Series Challenge to his existing package of races for pre-1966 sports, saloons and GT cars. This year, the new HRDC Academy for Austin A35s has grown rapidly and now has 34 cars complete or being built.

Clark Rally takes a break

The Roger Albert Clark Rally, scheduled for November 28-29, was cancelled due to lack of entries. 

Rally manager Colin Heppenstall says that the event will now be rested and will not return before 2017 with a heavily revised format. The rally has run for the past 12 years and aims to re-create the RAC Rallies of the 1960s and 1970s.

“This was a very difficult decision to make and we considered all options to try and keep the event running,” he said. “However this is a break and not the end of the Roger Albert Clark Rally.”

  • Charles Settrington, the son of Lord March, has moved a step closer to being able to race at the family’s Goodwood circuit. Settrington, 21, started racing with the Historic Racing Drivers’ Club earlier this season and acquired another licence upgrading signature at Donington Park in early November at the wheel of an Austin A40.
  • The Legend Boucles of Bastogny, the biggest historic rally in Europe, will have a fresh format for 2016. For the first time, the competitive action will be held over two full days, with asphalt tests on Saturday and gravel tests on Sunday (February 20-21). It will be the first time an event in Belgium has focused on gravel stages