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100 GP celebration —  Ambitious VSCC Donington meeting to feature grids spanning all 10 decades of grand prix racing

The Vintage Sports Car Club has unveiled plans to celebrate 100 years of grand prix racing at its major Donington Park race meeting in 2006. The celebration, titled GP100, will fit alongside the club’s existing See Red flagship event, with a provisional date of September 2/3.

The event will mark the centenary of the 1906 French GP, which ran over a 60-mile course to the east of Le Mans. It was the first race to be called a Grand Prix and was won by the Renault of Ferenc Szisz.

“We intend to make it a racing celebration,” said Julian Ghosh of the VSCC. “We can put on grids to represent the 10 decades of grand prix racing. We can run a grid for our Edwardian racers, the vintage era will be covered by the Vintage Seaman Trophy, the 1930s by the Historic Seaman, the ’50s by the Flockhart Trophy and the ’60s by the HGPCA. We’re talking to Grand Prix Masters and TGP about doing the 1970s and ’80s and then our friends from Ferrari Corsa Clienti can bring it right up to date. We’re probably the only people who can cover just about all of the 100 years.”

Other likely attractions include an Ayrton Senna Tribute and a celebration of the 1936 Donington GP. “We want to get Michael Schumacher there, as well as other former grand prix drivers,” said Ghosh.

***

Lees, Galica, Donnelly drive F1 racers

Ex-Formula One drivers Divina Galica, Geoff Lees and Martin Donnelly are all returning to the cockpit of F1 cars this autumn.

Galica will finally race a Lotus 79, while Lees has been testing a Matra and Donnelly was set to demonstrate the ex-Senna Lotus 97T at Donington on September 11.

Galica is scheduled to race Joel Finn’s Lotus 79 in the Historic F1 race at Watkins Glen on September 25. The car has not run for a decade.

After she had given up on the Hesketh 308 in 1978, Galica’s backer Olympus Cameras moved to Lotus as the 79 appeared mid-season. “After Ronnie Peterson died at Monza I called Colin Chapman to see if I could drive for him at Watkins Glen,” recalled Galica. “He told me that he had already engaged Jean-Pierre Jarier. Well here I am, 27 years later, driving the very chassis I wanted to drive all those years ago at the very same track. Talk about coincidence!”

Lees, meanwhile, has been carrying out some testing work at Pembrey and Donington Park for James Watt Automotive in the ex-Beltoise/Amon Matra MS120 V12 that the team has rebuilt for owner Abba Kogan. “It’s 10 years since I raced single-seaters,” said Lees. “I’m just helping with setups at the moment, but maybe I could be tempted back into a single-seater for a race.”

Donnelly was due to run the 97T — in which Senna scored his maiden grand prix win at Estoril in 1985 — during the Renault Festival weekend. He has previously demonstrated other F1 cars from the Classic Team Lotus stable.

***

Sytner sits it out

Frank Sytner will not be racing at the Goodwood Revival meeting this year after being declined an entry by the event organisers.

Sytner, one of Britain’s most successful historic racers, claimed the Whitsun and Glover Trophies in ’04.

Goodwood officials are believed to have delivered warnings to several competitors about driving standards at the Revival, but Sytner has allegedly been singled out for missing a black flag during the 2004 event.

“The black flag that Frank missed, I couldn’t see either.” said Simon Hadfield, who prepares Sytner’s cars. “Last year there were people far worse behaved than Frank,” added Hadfield. No comment was available from Goodwood.

***

Graham’s FIA title

Ernie Graham and Alec Cooper have clinched the FIA Historic Rally title in their debut European season with their BDA-powered Ford Escort Mk1.

The British crew won the title on the Rallye Alpi Orientali in Italy, their eighth event of the season. Only once have they failed to finish, with a cam-pulley problem on the Circuit of Cremona. Consistent top-five finishes netted the title.

“We’ve done some fantastic rallies,” said Graham. “The gravel event in Finland was probably the best rally I’ve ever done. But we couldn’t match the 3-litre Porsches on Tarmac events!”

***

‘BUY 1’ at Brands

Jaguar racer Grant Williams bagged a highly emotional landmark win at Brands Hatch in August when he steered the ex-John Coombs MkI,  registration number BUY 1, to victory in a Jaguar saloon encounter.

It’s 41 years since the car last raced at Brands, in the hands of Grant’s grandfather Gordon Williams.

The last surviving example of four racing Mkl’s built by the factory in 1959, BUY 1 was originally owned by then Guildford Jaguar dealer Coombs, who entered it for Roy Salvadori. The Williams family, of which Grant is the third generation to race it, has owned the car for more than four decades.

***

Piper in tune again

One of only four Piper sports-racing cars built has returned to racing in Britain in the hands of John Bladon.

The only car known to survive is the ex-Bobby Bell 1965 car, which has recently come back after spending 20 years in the USA. Of the four cars, two went to New Zealand and a third became the Piper-Buick in the USA.  Bladon’s twin-cam 1600 version is the only one still racing and was restored by Peter Denty in the late ’70s. “It’s a proper car with mountains of history,” said Bladon, who relaunched it in the Classic Sports race at the Oulton Park Gold Cup. Sadly, gear selection niggles hindered the progress of the Lotus 23B-style car.

***

Chevron duo star at 40th

Former Chevron works drivers Brian Redman and John Burton were stars of Chevron’s 40th anniversary celebrations during the Oulton Park Gold Cup.

Burton won one of the two Chevron sportscar races, while Redman finished fourth on his return to the cockpit of a single-seater. Neither had raced at Oulton Park for three decades.

Other former Chevron drivers in attendance included Teddy Pilette, Geoff Lees, Mike Wilds, Ed Swart and Robin Darlington. Chevron engineer Paul Owens was also on hand and presented some of the race awards.

“Vin and Helen Malkie (who coordinated entries for the Chevron races)  have done a wonderful job, and to see so many Chevrons here is wonderful,” said Redman, who raced a B16 sportscar and a B42 single-seater in the dedicated marque races. “Of the 480 cars that Chevron built they rarely made a bad car, and unusually there is a strong family feel among Chevron owners. It’s fantastic to be back at Oulton Park as well.”

The B16 that Redman raced was the car of Joe Hish, which was thought to be racing in the UK for the first time, having spent its life in South Africa and then America. Sold in 1969 to Dennis Joubert in Cape Town, it was raced by Tim Schenken and John Hine in the Kyalami Nine Hours. “It’s the original chassis, which has never been rebuilt,” confirmed Redman.

“It’s a proper car with mountains of history,” said Bladon, who relaunched it in the Classic Sports race at the Oulton Park Gold Cup.  Sadly, gear-selection niggles hindered the progress of the Lotus 23B-style car.

***

Stoneleigh plans

Details of the third International Historic Motorsport Show at Stoneleigh Park have been unveiled.

The 2006 event, running over February 24-26, will feature increased exhibitor space, accommodating up to 500 exhibitors at full capacity.

Event organiser Ian Williamson has arranged a new hall adjacent to halls 1 and 2 to improve visitor access and provide a better facility for book and model sellers, memorabilia and smaller engineering companies.

Live events are scheduled to include a return of the ‘Slowly Sideways’ Group B rally car movement, while an indoor pre-65 motorbike trials demonstration will also run. An auction and the annual historic motorsport awards dinner will take place at the event.

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