Race Car of the Century Silverstone photoshoot: how we did it

It took months of planning to bring together some of the greatest racing cars ever built — and then came the day of the photoshoot itself…

Race of the century Behind the scenes

The shoot

How do you get 10 of the most incredible racing cars in history in the same place at the same time? The answer: with a bit of luck and a lot of goodwill.

D-type exits the pit.

D-type exits the pit.

W196 and Scooby

W196 and Scooby

From the moment we conceived the idea of getting our Race Car of the Century shortlist together for a photoshoot, we knew we had our work cut out. Most are priceless; all are rare: they didn’t make many McLaren MP4/4s. In fact they made just six…

Jaguar Heritage Trust was immediately on board as were Bentley and Classic Team Lotus. Prodrive, which is celebrating its own anniversary (its 40th), said we could have Colin McRae’s car, and Porsche UK agreed to a 917/30 and threw in a Le Mans-winning driver for good measure (more on that in a later issue).

McLaren MP4:4 arrives

MP4/4 arrives

The Audi R8 was more tricky but eventually we tracked down a private owner who supplied both car and driver while the Ferrari 166 came with a bit of help from supercar dealer Tom Hartley Jr, who put us in touch with a recent client. So far so good.

McLaren MP4 rear

We might be seeing some of these cars again for our 200th anniversary, in 2124

Colin McRae-driven Impreza

Colin McRae-driven Impreza

Red Bull pulled out all the stops to get us an RB9 from its heritage fleet and the McLaren MP4/4 was from a UK-based private owner who was willing to lend us their precious example on the proviso that he/she would remain anonymous.

The one car missing was the Mercedes W154. The nearest example is in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany and getting it to Silverstone proved a step too far. But then an email from the heritage department arrived: “We’d like to help you celebrate your birthday, so would a W196 be any use?” Well, as fallback options go, it wasn’t a bad offer…

Jaguar D-type

The decades’ finest, ready for their close-ups.

Race car of the century behind the scenes

With the good people at Silverstone happy for a bunch of journos taking over the circuit for the day we were ready to go.

And what a day it was: even the last-minute cancellation of the Ferrari 166 (due to torrential rain in the apologetic owner’s home town) couldn’t dampen the sight of history’s greatest race cars rolling off their transporters in the morning sun.

Joe Dunn, Owen Norris discuss the Lotus 49

Editor Joe Dunn and art editor Owen Norris discuss the Lotus 49

Audi R8 cools off after a lap

Audi R8 cools off after a lap

Yes it had been like herding cats. Yes they were very expensive cats. But to see them all together under the Motor Sport banner was a truly historic moment. Just don’t ask us to do it again for another 100 years.