Just a perfect day

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Coys Festival preview

If you’ve never seen a Maserati 250F in full flight or a Porsche 917 flat out, then you’d better head for the Coys Festival in July. As Marcus Pye reveals, there really is no finer race meeting

Europe’s premier historic race meeting, the British Racing Drivers Club’s Coys International Festival, presented by Chrysler on July 24-26, assumes even greater importance this year with the 50th Anniversary of Silverstone foremost among many landmarks to be celebrated.

This will be marked with typical BRDC panache thanks to the tenacity of co-ordinator Sheridan Thynne not only by a remarkable recreation of the 1948 RAC Grand Prix grid, featuring around 20 original and sister cars and several surviving drivers, but also by a pageant of significant machines from each of the circuit’s years.

Maserati’s 4CLTs dominated Silverstone’s inaugural Grand Prix, and the venue will again reverberate to the Italian cars’ rich engine note. What’s more, the sprightly Swiss Baron de Graffenried is to be reunited with the 4CL he raced that day.

The 50 car display most will also be demonstrated sets out to evoke memories of all aspects of the circuit’s past. Stirling Moss will drive the Kieft 500 he raced in 1951, while Jack Sears’s Ford Galaxie, Nelson Piquet’s F3 Ralt and an Ecosse sportscar are all in the line-up.

F1 fans will delight at the return of Ronnie Peterson’s Lotus 72, James Hunt’s McLaren M23, the ex-Carlos Reutemann Brabham-Alfa Romeo I3T45, Ayrton Senna’s Toleman turbocar and Nigel Mansell’s 1992 British GP-winning Williams FW14B, to be contrasted with a current Stewart-Ford.

Coinciding as it does with the annual meeting of the Anciens Pilotes, expect appearances from World Champions Sir Jack Brabham and Jody Scheckter, as well as many other celebrated personalities.

The special features will open the programme, running on both Saturday and Sunday, rather than being split over two days as before. Parades of Jaguar XK, Lotus, Lister and Mini Cooper cars are set to commemorate marque jubilees. A reunion of the JW Automotive/Gulf Ford GT40 and Porsche 917 team will also wow the crowds before the programme of wall-to-wall racing action, for which the event is renowned, gets under way.

Five of the events are double-headers, with a race each day and positions to be decided on aggregate. No fewer than 14 Maserati 250Fs are on the entry bra 1950s front-engined Grand Prix car showpiece, the like of which has not been seen for years.

The pre-war ERAs – including R14B in which Reg Parnell finished third in the 1948 Grand Prix, and RSB ‘Remus’ which Peter Bell and John Bolster piloted to sixth place that year will again be out in force, alongside Sir John Venables-Llewellyn in Rodney Felton’s Alfa P3.

Talbots, Alfa Romeos and Lagondas star in the Pre-War Sports Car events, while the pre-’65 equivalent provides a rare opportunity to see Rob Walton’s Shelby Daytona coupe square up to the ACs, Aston Martins, Bizzarinis, Ferraris and Jaguars.

Peter Hardman leads the BRDC 1950s Sportscar tide race, following a superb victory last time out at Silverstone in the 1959 Le Mans-winning Aston Martin DBR1, but Frank Sytner (Lister-Jaguar), Barrie Williams (Tojeiro-Jaguar), Robert Brooks (Lotus 15), the 19s of Richard Austin and Otto Reedz-Thott, Jeffrey Pattinson’s Cooper Monaco and a host of `birdcage’ Maseratis guarantee tough opposition.

Back by popular demand is the two-part Shell Historical Ferrari Challenge, in which at least two (possibly three) of the all-conquering flat-12 engined 312PB prototypes are set to appear among a selection of Prancing Horses of previous eras.

Saturday’s singleton race for pre-’52 Grand Prix cars gives the Alfas, ERAs and Altas a chance to shine. The pre-’65 rear-engined cars are out on Sunday, when the ex-Jim Clark 1967 Lotus 48 Tasman/1-‘2 chassis will hopefully race for the first time since 1970.

Another eagerly awaited debutant on the Historic scene should be the Cosworth DP/-powered Ligier JS3, which is due to take on the proven Lola T70s in a bumper field for Sunday’s European Sports Prototype round, having not run since the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1971.

New for rally fans is a Historic Rallysprint on the Roger Clark Circuit on Friday afternoon. With such stars at Bjom Waldegaard and Timo Makinen planning to appear, and cars ranging from Austin-Healeys to a Linda Stratos, it will be a popular addition. The vast array of sideshows, marque and motor club displays (this year with a stronger competition theme) and trade areas are always worth exploring for gems. The major draw for car collectors will be Coys’ traditional Saturday evening sale, which features Lotus sports and racing cars, some of which are from the late Colin Chapman’s own collection.

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