Pace notes -- your guide to what's coming up...

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Don’t miss Moss/Mass — Mille Miglia Retrospective, May 19-22

From an entry of 780 the organisers of the Mille Miglia Retrospective have selected an incredible field of 375 cars spanning the 30-year history of the famous Italian road race.

For three days, starting in the evening of Thursday May 19, the regularity rally will take the crews on a faithful recreation of the 1000-mile route, starting and finishing in Brescia.

Inevitably, Stirling Moss and the Mercedes 300SLR that he and Denis Jenkinson took to victory in 1955 will be the star attraction as the 50th anniversary of that famous win is celebrated. This time Moss will share the car with Jochen Mass in what is said to be the car’s last appearance at a motorsport event. From the finish of the Mille Miglia the car, still numbered 722, will return to the Mercedes museum.

In 1955 Moss averaged almost 100mph, but the pace in 2005 will be rather more gentle as the competitive element of the Mille Miglia is restricted to 38 regularity sections.

Thursday’s evening route will take the field from Brescia to Ferrara, while on Friday the cars head for Rome and finish the day with an 18-mile run through the streets of the capital city. Saturday’s leg heads back north to Brescia, visiting the historic Piazza del Campo in Siena and then climbing the famous Futa and Raticosa passes shortly after visiting Florence.

The entry is packed with famous cars reflecting the event history from 1927 to 1957. Double World Rally Champion Miki Biasion (Lancia Aurelia) and Bentley president Franz-Josef Paefgen (1930 Bentley) are among an entry drawn from 35 countries. The Mille Miglia winning Ferraris from 1951 and ’52 are both entered, along with drivers such as Jacky Ickx, Cesare Florio, Prince Leopold von Bayern and Italian politician Luciano Magnalbo.

***

Matra V12 to add spice in F1 street race — Pau, May 14/15

With a wonderful line-up of races and a gloriously historic atmosphere, the fifth Grand Prix Historique de Pau is the first major international race weekend of the season.

The French street circuit, tucked in the foothills of the Pyrenees, will echo to the sounds of a 19-race programme that includes pre and postwar grand prix cars, single-seaters, sports, GT and touring cars.

Star billing is taken by the opening two races of the season for the Grand Prix Masters series. Having scored a famous double in 2004, Peter Williams will be bidding to maintain his striking Pau form in his ex-Ronnie Peterson March 761, but two real hard-chargers will have their own ambitions: Frank Sytner (Penske PC3) and Duncan Dayton (Brabham BT33) are both clear contenders, while German Peter Wuensch could go even better than second place last year now that he has traded his Brabham BT37 for a Wolf WR1.

A massive spectacle for fans, including the highly partisan locals, should be the return to racing of the Matra MS120 of Abba Kogan. If the car is race-ready, the wail of the V12 around the street circuit will alone make the trip worthwhile. Kogan may also tackle the opening World Sportscar Masters races in his Matra MS670 — just to send the crowd into a complete frenzy!

Both Sytner in his Lola T70 and Dayton (Brabham BT8) are also doubling up in the sportscar races, while Paul Knapfield makes his series debut with his stunning Ligier — another likely local favourite.

More headline races include the HGPCA contingent, split at 1961, with Michael Schryver likely to resume his awesome pace from 2004 in his Lotus 18. Meanwhile, a fabulous Jochen Rindt Formula Two Trophy field will recreate the Pau F2 races of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Classic Formula Three, Classic FF1600, Formula Junior, touring cars and a 90-minute Gentlemen Drivers race all add to the spectacle of a fine event.

***

First British race for Pre-War Sports — Donington Park, May1/2

The UK debut of the Motor Racing Legends Pre-War Sports Car Series is just one of the highlights of the Coys Top Hat race weekend at Donington Park on Sunday/Monday May 1/2.

A fine entry is expected for a pair of races. Notable among the field will be the Alfa Romeo Monza of Bill Ainscough and James Baxter, who were among the pacesetters in 2004. Better known for his hillclimb prowess in the Frazer Nash single-seater, Baxter has adapted quickly to racing the Monza.

Their rivals include Chris Chilcott in his rapid Frazer Nash Fast Tourer, Roger Saul’s Alfa Romeo P3 and Richard Frankel’s Bentley TT. Add in a number of European-based racers and the double header will be a star attraction.

The full gamut of Top Hat races will be in action, headlined by the Pre-66 Historic Touring Cars. The season opener at Castle Combe on Easter Monday featured a 30-car grid and some great racing as the American V8s took on the best of the smaller cars. Having truly taken the fight to the victorious Falcon of Andy Bacon and Leo Voyazides, Richard Shaw and Nick Whale have promised more giantkilling at Donington. “We’ll have another go at them at Donington: the circuit suits our car,” pledged Shaw of his BMW 1800 straight after the Castle Combe race.

With packed grids for the Cloth Cap pre-66 sports and GT race and the ‘Oldies but Go!dies’ race for pre-60 sports and saloons, the Top Hat movement will be at the centre of the action.

Another big attraction will be the twin Gentlemen Drivers series for GT/sportscars and sports-racing cars. Both fields are hugely oversubscribed for the mini-enduro races. Over sprint distances will be Lurani Trophy Formula Junior and HGPCA drum-brake sportscar races.

Admission each day is £10, with racing from 1pm on Sunday and 12 noon Monday.

***

Heaven in Devon for VSCC hillclimb — Wiscombe Park, May 8

Rolling Devon countryside, a spring Sunday and an eclectic lineup of mainly pre-war cars. It’s the start of the VSCC hillclimb season at Wiscombe Park!

Wiscombe is the traditional jumping-off point for the VSCC hillclimb calendar and a typically strong entry is assured.

One of the most welcome entries is that of Dorset’s Pete Candy in his Riley Special (‘The Rat’), with both driver and car now fully recovered from their dreadful accident at Cadwell Park last June. Duncan Pittaway’s thundering 8.2-litre GN Vitesse will thrill the fans as he attacks the hill in exuberant style.

So too will Chris Williams in the 24-litre Napier Bentley, which is a vast handful on the Wiscombe hairpins. At the opposite end of the scale is the screaming supercharged Austin 7 of Michael Fitzmaurice. Practice runs start at 9am, with timed runs from 1.30pm.

***

HSCC stays on the boil — Silverstone/Croft, May 8/21

Two race meetings in the space of three weekends in May will keep the pressure on the drivers and teams chasing season-long championships from the Historic Sports Car Club.

On Sunday May 8 the club is at the helm at Silverstone, while on Saturday May 21 the HSCC will head north to the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire for the first time in more than five years.

The race line-up for the brace of single-day meetings is similar, although the Derek Bell Trophy skips Silverstone and the slot is taken by races for Formula Junior and Jaguar XKs. The club is working hard to take a strong entry to Croft as it seeks to develop the Darlington venue into a regular part of the HSCC season.

Sure to deliver some of the best action are rounds of the Historic Racing Saloon Register and Historic FF1600 Championships. First blood went to Dan Cox (Ford Anglia) and Neil Fowler (Lola T200) respectively at Donington. But Fowler has no title ambition this season, and that’s good news for Nelson Rowe and Nigel Bancroft (Crosslé 20Fs) and Jason Minshaw (Merlyn Mk20A).

Cox will be new to the challenge of Croft, but will rise to that having taken a confidence-boosting win in the season opener. Charles Barter (Datsun 240Z) and Laurence Bailey (TVR Griffith) are the Roadsports benchmarks and in Classic F3 Steve Maxted has added series newcomer Alex Ames to his list of major rivals.

Finally, a race for the Derek Bell Trophy at Croft means the return of Formula 5000 to Yorkshire after a long absence.

***

Race Programme — check out where the action is…

April

When & where: 23, Silverstone

What: The VSCC racing season starts . Admission £10

Timetable: Qualifying from 9am, racing from approx. 1pm

How to get there: Off the A43, five miles south-west of Towcester, Northants

***

When & where: 24, Silverstone

What: BRDC Historic Sportscar Championship race on the GP circuit. Admission £10

Timetable: Qualifying from 9am, racing from approx. 1pm

***

When & where: 26-30, France

What: The Tour Auto runs for five days between Paris and Biarritz.

Contact: www.tourauto.com

***

May

When & where: April30/May 1, Mid-Wales

What: Round three of the British Historic Rally championship

Timetable: Historics start at 11am (Sat)

How to get there: Based at Llandrindodd Wells, with stages on the Epynt ranges

***

What & where: 1/2, Donington Park

What: A full weekend of historic racing. Admission £10

How to get there: Just off the M1 and A42, adjacent to East Midlands airport

***

What & where: 7-10, Modena (I)

What: The Cento Ore Classic

***

When & where: 8, Wiscombe Park

What: Opening VSCC hillclimb of season. Admission £12

Timetable: Timed runs from 1.30pm

How to get there: Six miles south of Honiton in Devon, signposted from A375

***

When & where: 8, Silverstone

What:All the HSCC championships. Admission £10.

Timetable: Qualifying from 9am, racing from approx. 1pm.

***

When & where: 14/15 Pau (F)

What: Grand Prix de Historique

***

When & where: 19-22, Italy

What: Mille Miglia Retrospective

***

When & where: 21, Croft

What: A full day of HSCC racing. Admission £10

Timetable: Qualifying from 9am, racing from approx 1pm

How to get there: Five miles south of Darlington, just off the A167.

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