Olympian winners compete together at Classic
At least five Olympic gold medallists will make their race debuts in the celebrity event at the Silverstone Classic in July. Six-time cycling gold medallist Jason Kenny CBE and skeleton gold winner Amy Williams MBE, below, will be joined by rowing winners Mark Hunter and brothers Greg and Jonny Searle in identical Austin A35s from the HRDC Academy.
Other confirmed celebrities for the two-part race include former cricket captain Mike Gatting OBE, comedian Stan Boardman and bike aces Wayne Gardner and Freddie Spencer.
A grid of 50 cars will contest the celebrity part of the event on Saturday before the owners take back their cars for a second race on Sunday.
Other confirmed participants include TV dragon Theo Paphitis, snooker player Dennis Taylor and experienced historic racer Neil Primrose, drummer for the band Travis.
Since becoming the first British individual gold medallist at the Winter Olympics for 30 years when winning the skeleton at Vancouver in 2006, Amy Williams has twice contested Wales Rally GB as a co-driver.
“I can’t believe the world has ever seen five Olympic gold medallists from different disciplines competing together, so this is going to be something really special,” said event boss Nick Wigley.
Tim Brise returns in FF
Tim Brise, younger brother
of late Formula 1 driver Tony, will return to racing this season, 43 years after he last raced. Brise will make his return in Historic FF1600 as the 50th anniversary of the category is celebrated.
Tim was a leading young single-seater racer in the early 1970s but stopped racing in 1974 after two major accidents in Formula 3. In both cases, the roll hoop failed.
Now, Brise (63) will return to his racing roots to campaign a Merlyn Mk20. He raced a similar car in 1971 but was better known as a works Elden driver. After Tony died along with Graham Hill in a 1975 aircraft accident, Tim turned his attention to rallying with considerable success.
“It’s a late-life crisis,” he said. “I spent a lot of my career in rallying but I fancied doing some racing. If I didn’t do it now, I never would.”
Vatanen wows crowds
Ari Vatanen thrilled the fans at Race Retro with spectacular handling of rally cars on the live action special stage, as a record attendance made the 2017 event the best to date.
Former world rally champion Vatanen remains one of the sport’s most popular drivers and took to the wheel of a Ford Escort Mk2, BMW M3 and Subaru Legacy on the Stoneleigh Park demonstration stage.
Inside the halls star attractions included a celebration of 50 years of the DFV engine (below: Cosworth 4WD). Cosworth joint founder Mike Costin was on hand to share his memories of developing the standard-setting Grand Prix engine. Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen was reunited with the winning Bentley from 2003 and motorbike
ace ‘Fast’ Freddie Spencer was there to meet the fans. In all, 21,000 fans visited the event. The 2018 date has been confirmed for February 23-25. For a full report on the event see page 145.
Shelsley lauds LSR hero
The story of the Campbell family will be celebrated at Shelsley Walsh’s Classic Nostalgia on July 22/23.
Marking 50 years since the death of land speed record holder Donald Campbell, his daughter Gina will be on hand and will be interviewed on the main stage. The spectacular W12-engined Napier Bluebird replica will perform demonstration runs on the hill.
The busy weekend will also mark 30 years since the introduction of Group A regulations in 1987 and the 20th anniversary of World Rally Cars. On the hill will be Lancia Delta Integrales, Ford Sierra Cosworths and Subaru Imprezas.
Brundle Ralt races again
The ex-Martin Brundle Ralt RT3 Formula 3 car from the 1983 season will be racing again this year in the hands of new owner David Thorburn. It will be the first foray into historic racing for the Scot and he will contest the Classic F3 Championship in the car that famously battled against the similar chassis of Ayrton Senna in the British F3 Championship.
Martin bids for NZ double
Former WRC contender Markko Märtin will return to New Zealand in April to drive a Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800 in a bid for a second victory on the Otago Rally. Märtin and co-driver Stéphane Prevot will tackle the April 7-9 rally on the South Island in a locally supplied car. Martin was the star of the 2016 event, winning by more two and a half minutes.
The famous Ollon-Villars hillclimb in Switzerland will be used again in August for a demonstration event celebrating the period from 1953 to 1971 when it was one of the best-known hillclimbs in Europe.
Over the weekend of August 25-27, the original five-mile hill from Ollon to Villars-sur-Ollon will be used for the first time since 2013 and the event is open to cars of a type that competed in the heyday of the hillclimb.
Up to 250 entries will be accepted for one of the biggest events in Switzerland, including F1, F2 and F3 cars, sports-prototypes, motorcycles and sidecars.