Golden weekend for Lola

Where better to toast Lola’s 50th anniversary than at the Oulton Park Gold Cup? Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams led the celebration parade
By Paul Lawrence

The 50th anniversary of Lola and the world debut of the company’s T70 Spyder continuation car marked the annual Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting, as Historic Formula 2 and U2TC action topped the race programme.

“How they ever managed 500 miles turning left in these things I’ll never know,” said Barrie Williams after driving the Lola T92 ‘Bowes Seal Fast Special’ Indy Car, raced by Jackie Stewart at Indianapolis in 1967. ‘Whizzo’ led the Lola celebration parade, which included 1950s racer Brian Cox, reunited with a Lola Mk1 for the first time since 1959.

Bringing the Lola history up to date was the first run for the T70 Spyder continuation car, which had been completed in the early hours of Saturday morning and was due on a flight to Watkins Glen less than 48 hours after running at Oulton Park.

Elsewhere, with the venue looking better than ever, historic rally cars did their stuff on the circuit’s rally school stage as a typically big crowd enjoyed the action.

In racing terms, the Historic Sports Car Club laid on a full programme, with Historic F2 and the Under 2-litre Touring Car series complementing the club’s regular categories. Sadly, the event failed to attract European racers in any significant numbers, despite the glorious challenge that awaits those who make the long haul north from the channel.

Most notable among the visitors, and proof positive that the circuit can be mastered in a weekend, was Austrian Dieter-Karl Anton who took his Alfa Romeo Giulia to a hard-earned U2TC victory. He spent the last half of the race with Williams and Richard Shaw glued to his bumper as Lotus Cortina and BMW 1800 tried to dislodge the Alfa.

But Anton held on tenaciously. “It was a very nice race,” he said in faltering English as ‘Whizzo’ and Shaw congratulated him warmly. Partnering Shaw, as usual, was Jackie Oliver, back on the Oulton Park podium 40 years and a week after he finished third to Stewart and Chris Amon in the 1968 Gold Cup.

Peter Meyrick was top dog in Historic F2, racing his March 782 with determination on his home track. However, one of the weekend’s star drives was that of Martin Stretton as he fought back from a pitstop in the second race. Stretton delivered an epic spectacle as he threw his March 712 around his favourite track, pushing to the limit just for the sheer buzz of driving a racing car at the Cheshire parkland circuit.