Marcus Pye's diary

Any early flight to Edinburgh is rewarded at Knockhill, while the Silverstone Classic offered on-track action and even excitement in the trade stands

To Knockhill, 800 feet above the Firth of Forth, for the inaugural Classic Speedfair, themed on 50 years of the Scottish Motor Racing Club. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the super little circuit — scratched into hills above Dunfermline by Tom Kinnaird in the mid-1970s — is run by enthusiasts, so I’d long resolved to make the effort.

My 04.15 start was rewarded. Within two hours of take-off from Gatwick I was at the track’s gate, in a line of burbling classic cars. These days, when most queues at circuits are for adjacent Sunday markets, that was most encouraging. I’d followed a couple of pinging two-stroke Saabs in, and members of many car clubs were already filling the green bank behind the hairpin.

Local publicity was strong. A parade through Edinburgh’s Princes Street on the Friday included Tyrrell 001, Larry Kinch’s ex-Jim Clark F2 Lotus 32 with its one-litre SCA engine and a raft of Ecurie Ecosse cars, some atop the iconic transporter.

Demonstrations of cars and motorcycles, a rally stage and a parade of Scottish champions including Sir Jackie Stewart ensured non-stop action and a real buzz in the paddock. Ten thousand spectators turned out.

Apart from the BRDC Historic Sportscar championship round and the first Tin-Top enduro for saloons of the ’60s, the racing was distinctly clubbie, with a smattering of famous cars.

For me, the sight of Michael Schryver duffing-up FF1600s in his ex-Clark Lotus 18 and Sandy Watson’s Chevron B19 lapping Renault 8 Gordinis added to the event’s charm. Indeed, the latter was a flashback to South Africa’s Springbok Series. Backdrop notwithstanding, it could have been the 1971 Kyalami Nine Hours…

Next year, the Classic Speedfair will be promoted to the wider historic community, which will surely pitch up in droves now that reports of a weekend’s sport “like it used to be” have spread like wildfire. Count me in!

The Silverstone Classic was more formal, but no less enjoyable. The event is on the up once more. It’s a credible successor to the BRDC’s Historic Festivals of 1990-2003.

Banning transporters from behind the pits gave greater car access to fans, but the atmosphere in the outer paddocks, particularly the rapport between enthusiasts and teams, was outstanding.

With a big Aston Martin feature, dozens of marque clubs exhibiting, air displays and motorcycle races for the first time, there was no shortage of interest. Meanwhile, out in the trade stands, somewhat divorced from the punters on the runway from Copse towards Becketts, there were prizes to be had.

A prominent marque historian identified a 1100cc Coventry-Climax engine for sale as one that powered Dick Steed’s Mk9 sportscar in the 1950s. The very machine, which Malcolm Ricketts owns and races, was sitting just 50 yards away. Suitably primed, Malcolm rushed up brandishing his cheque book; thus car and engine are reunited…