What once was a true highlight now needs a fresh focus
Oulton Park Gold Cup. The name resonates still, as do many of those to have been engraved on its flanks: Moss, Brabham, Clark, Stewart, Surtees, Hulme, Ickx…
Time was that the Gold Cup – first run in 1954 – was a non-championship Formula 1 race contested by stars of the day, and as much a national motor sport staple as the British Grand Prix or the RAC Rally, but its fall from prestige was relatively swift.
In 1968 Ferrari sent along three works entries (for Chris Amon, Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell), a headline that rather masked the fact there were only 13 cars present. By 1972 that figure had dwindled to seven, although a number of Formula 5000 cars were admitted to help bolster the grid.
It would be the last time that contemporary F1 cars graced Oulton Park on a competitive basis.
The Gold Cup has since been passed from category to category – F5000, British F1, Thundersports, historics, British F3000, BTCC, British GT and even F3 – without ever settling on a deserving recipient.
This year’s concept, a race to commemorate 50 years of the Chevron B8 (a car developed at the track and built fairly locally, in Bolton), was delightful. It was the first time in years that so many former Chevron racers and employees had gathered together and their collective joy was tangible.
The race was good to watch, too, particularly in its formative stages… but there is no celebratory cause to repeat the exercise next year.
The Gold Cup requires a sense of permanent attachment to recapture its former lustre – and a non-championship race for FIA Masters Historic F1 might be the perfect way to represent history.