The International Historic Motor Show, better known as Race Retro, is now firmly established as the kick-off point for the new historic season. The 2012 edition had much to admire, both static and on the move.
Porsche was honoured with featured marque status, and was prominent inside the exhibition halls. The spectacle of two 908/3s really caught the eye. One was a Martini car most recently used by Bobby Rahal, while from a private collection of Gulf-liveried cars came an ex-works example that had been driven by Derek Bell and Jo Siffert.
The 30th anniversary of the 956/962 Group C dynasty was another feature, ranging from the first 956 used by Bell and Jacky Ickx at Silverstone in May 1982 through to the long-tailed Shell-liveried 962 of Bell, Hans Stuck and Klaus Ludwig that finished second at Le Mans in 1988. Adding to the Stuttgart theme was the stunning 1961 R561 of Stirling Moss, the car he was driving at the point he decided to retire from competition, at Le Mans last summer.
In the car park of the National Agricultural Centre was the usual rally stage, primarily for Group B rally cars. However, with everything from a Mini Cooper to a Subaru Impreza there was action from cars spanning nearly 40 years of rallying. Maintaining the Porsche theme was Bjorn Waldegård, the first World Rally Champion back in 1979. The Swedish ace drove both a Team Tuthill 911 and the 914/6 of musician Jay Kay, a car Bjorn took to third place on the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally. The 911, which Waldegård hurled around in style, was only recently off a boat after winning the Safari Classic in December and sat high on Safari suspension. It showed the scars inflicted by a clash with a truck that, without a mighty effort from Richard Tuthill and his crew, would have put Waldegård out of the rally.
The famous Lotus Sunbeam that Henri Toivonen used to win the 1980 RAC Rally was a welcome sight as Ian Gwynne slid this landmark car around in style on its first public run for the better part of a decade.
Indoors, star attractions included a display of the fabulous work of Hall and Hall, the team behind so many projects at the Donington Grand Prix Collection, promoting October's BRM Day at Bourne. The ex-Graham Hill/Tony Brooks BRM P57 was displayed emerging from the rear of a period BRM transporter, while the ex-Innes Ireland and Masten Gregory Lotus 24 was also on show.
Seldom seen outside the Coventry Transport Museum, where it has spent the past 40 years, was the Techcraft BRM used by Peter Lawton to win the British Hillclimb title in 1967 and '68.
Rallying had its own hall and the centrepiece was a display from the 'Rallying with Group B' organisation as it unveiled plans for Michelin Rallye Groupe B this August to re-live the old Sunday spectator stages of the Lombard RAC Rally. Alongside was a glorious Lancia display, with a period 037 sitting next to an impressive re-creation of a monstrous Delta S4 from the time in the mid-1980s when rallying technology went crazy.
Motor Sport was also in attendance, our stand featuring Tim Ely's ex-Mike Hawthorn Riley Ulster Imp complete with a bow tie-wearing dummy that carried a certain resemblance to Britain's first World Champion (even if it was a little on the skinny side...). The pretty car, with its special history, proved a popular draw.