A show of appreciation

Alfa’s centenary and the 40th anniversary of the World Cup Rally were celebrated both on and off-stage at Race Retro
By Paul Lawrence

The seventh annual International Historic Motor Sport Show, Race Retro, shrugged off the recession to show that the historic scene is flourishing.

The celebration of 100 years of Alfa Romeo was a core theme of the 2010 event at Stoneleigh Park, and the main foyer display included two of Alfa’s finest single-seaters from the 1930s: a 1935 P3 Monoposto and the ex-Raymond Sommer 1938 308C. Inside the halls, dedicated displays marked Alfa’s sporting heritage on classic events such as the Targa Florio and Mille Miglia. The 1960 Lotus 18, equipped with a 1500cc Alfa Romeo unit, exemplified its engine expertise. It was sold new to Syd van der Vyver in South Africa and has recently been reunited with its original engine and restored by Classic Team Lotus.

Marking Alfa Romeo’s Grand Prix dream was star guest Bruno Giacomelli, who entertained visitors with memories of his time with the Formula 1 team from 1979 and into the ’80s.

Other celebrations included the 40th anniversary of the London-Mexico World Cup Rally, with a display of cars including Hannu Mikkola’s winning Ford Escort ‘FEV 1H’ (left). The car, still owned by Ford, was retired at the end of the rally but spawned a generation of road-going Escort Mk1 Mexicos.

The World Cup Rally theme continued outside on the live action rally stage, running on a new layout this year. Brian Culcheth, who finished second – 78 minutes behind Mikkola – in 1970, was reunited with a Triumph 2.5PI for some demonstration runs among the Group B cars. One of the stars of the show was Mick Strafford’s Chevrolet V8 Firenza, which was finished just before Race Retro after a five-year build. Strafford now intends to use his spectacular car, which replicates the South African race and rally car of the early ’70s, on competitive historic rallies.

Current British Rally Champion Keith Cronin brought the story up to date driving one of David Appleby’s Aston Martin rally cars, and Russell Brookes turned back the clock 30 years at the wheel of a rare wide-track Ford Escort Mk2. In total, four of Brookes’ Andrews Heat for Hire cars were in action. Alongside the rally car action were sessions for historic karts.

Back inside the halls, exhibitors reported good trade through Friday and Saturday, though Sunday – Mothers Day – was far quieter. Overall, visitor numbers were up on previous years and leading race organising clubs reported an encouraging level of new enquiry.

Among so many classic Alfas, one of the star exhibits was the freshly prepared GTA from the Alfaholics concern in Bristol. The pre-66 racer, which the group plans to campaign in the U2TC touring car series, was superbly presented and amply demonstrated the quality of product available in historic motor sport.