It is around this time of year that I usually start to look back at photographs and footage of the previous summer’s races and recall the smell of cut grass mixed with race fuel, the sound of birdsong and the bark of engines firing. For obvious reasons this year it has not been Silverstone’s vast crowds basking in the sun and the frisson of excitement that comes with a big race weekend that have lingered in the memory, but the gentler thoughts of historic race car meetings. E-types and pre-war Bentleys belting around Donington or Ferraris sweeping through Madgwick, the clatter of pre-digital tools and bonhomie of the paddock.
But it is not just nostalgic memories that make the historic scene so important. Like many things to do with cars and racing, it is an area that Britain both excels at and undervalues. Which is why I was pleased to see a recent report which aimed to place historic and classic motoring on the map.
‘The Economic and Environmental Impact of the Historic and Classic Motor Industry in the UK’, produced by the consultancy Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), found that the historic and classic motor industry contributes £8.7bn to the UK economy in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA – a similar measure to GDP). It’s about twice the size of the Scotch whisky industry and comparable to the performing arts and ports industries.