Old Timers, Mainly
David McKinney reports on the biggest Continental Historic race meeting
Following just a week after the Coys Historic Festival at Silverstone, the 24th AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on August 8/11 suffered some loss of entries, but produced some excellent racing nevertheless. Over the four days a total of 57,000 spectators were reported to have watched 480 drivers from 18 different countries competing in a packed programme on the full Grand Prix circuit.
There was no race for postwar GP cars this year, but the sportscars had their usual feast of racing. This started with the now well-established 500km Marathon on the Thursday, led virtually from start to finish by Steve Hitchins in his well-known AC Cobra, with the Menden brothers from Essen sharing the wheel. Gary Pearson and Paul Alexander had provided a strong challenge in Brandon Wang's 250LM Ferrari, as had Peter Hannen and John Beasley in the latter's Cooper Monaco, but neither car finished, nor did the Valentine Lindsay/Win Percy Birdcage Maserati or the David Pennell/John Harper Lister-Jaguar. Second went to the David Piper/Willie Tuckett 250LM with a local Jaguar XKSS third.
Pearson took over the Silverstone-winning Lister-Jaguar for the Louis Vuitton races, and had no trouble in winning both the Saturday and Sunday legs of the race. Series leader Jeffrey Pattinson took a second and a third in his Cooper Monaco but failed by less than quarter of a second to wrest the overall runner-up position from Tony Dron in the Aston Martin DBR1. Harper in Pennell's Cooper Monaco was fourth on aggregate ahead of Martin Stretton (Maserati 300S) after the retirement from Sunday's race of Barrie Williams (Tojeiro-Jaguar) and Don Shead (Kurtis-Chevrolet).
Local drivers Klaus Werner and Hein Gericke in Monza Alfa Romeos took the first two places in the pre-war sportscar races, in one order one day and the reverse the next, with Stretton in the Le Mans Lagonda a manful third.
An exciting Super Sports encounter fell to Charlie Agg in his well-known McLaren M8F, after local hero Kalisch suffered mechanical problems with his BRM P154 on both days. The other German hope, Wido Roessler, spun his McLaren M6B out of contention leaving Richard Eyre, whose McLaren M8F had beaten Agg in Saturday's race, to place second on aggregate ahead of Peter Hoffmann (M8F) and the Chevron B26 duo of Richard Evans and John Burton.
An innovation was a race for newer Le Mans cars, with numbers made up by recent cars, notably a trio of Porsches. Christophe Bouchut in a Kremer 956 punted the similar car of early leader Lars Jonsson off in the first race and carried on to win from Jonathan Baker (Lola T70), with Kent Abrahamsson (Chevron B16) a distant third after a mid-race spin. On Sunday Bouchut strolled away to a 32sec win over Abrahamsson and Baker with Jonsson fourth.
Pearson showed his versatility and ability by taking Beasley's Tecno to a surprise win in the first European Historic F2 Championship race. The wet conditions favoured the Italian car and its driver, and he shot through from the fourth row of the grid to run second into the first corner, taking the lead two corners further on and running away from the field. Philip Walker (March 712) showed continuing improvement to place second, having passed former champion Fredy Kumschick (Lotus 69) at half-distance, but class star Rob Hall retired with a flat tyre. Hall had no trouble in winning Sunday's race from Kumschick with Walker third and Pearson fifth.
The Lurani Trophy Formula Junior series provided some of the closest racing of the weekend, with three Lotus 27s scrapping without stop on both days. Joaquin Folch won the first race from Tony Thompson and Urs Eberhardt, while Thompson threw away a more comfortable lead with a spin on the Sunday, then fought back to snatch second from Eberhardt at the Veedol chicane. Folch this time finished well ahead.
The meeting was rounded off with two popular demonstrations by Edwardian cars, and others to mark 60 years of the BMW 328, the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the German Bugatti Club, and the European adoption of Formula Vee. There were also a couple of races for Superkarts which were not, we were advised, in any way historic.