With 1100 entries for 24 races, there is no doubting the scale of the Silverstone Classic. But this is an event that extends beyond simply a race meeting, with displays, live music, parades and more. A record crowd suggests that the promoters have got the mix right, but by any measure it is a vast event.
Fifty years on from his victory at Silverstone during his dominant 1963 World Championship campaign, Jim Clark was remembered with a special dinner on Saturday evening. Meanwhile, the HGPCA Pre-61 races celebrated Froilán González, who scored his two World Championship GP wins at Silverstone. Several marque anniversaries were recognised and headline events included a lap by more than 1200 Porsche 911s, to celebrate the model’s 50th year, and an Aston Martin centenary parade.
The race paddocks were generally happier places than a year earlier, as the promoters took on board justifiable complaints from teams and drivers. Car and motorhome parking adjacent to The Wing complex made life much easier and went a long way to dealing with negative feelings from those who provide the show.
Despite the array of side attractions, for the hardcore visitor the race programme is the focus and, on a weekend of superlatives, it was Formula Junior that once more set the on-track standard. Sadly, many fans had yet to arrive when the opening race started at 9am on Saturday. They missed another epic contest between the usual suspects as the father and son Hibberd combo set out to score a win for Lotus.
Michael set the early pace in the ex-Peter Arundell Lotus 27 (which he’d seen win the 1963 British GP support race, as a kid), but then dropped back as son Andrew (Lotus 22) locked horns with Jon Milicevic (Cooper T59) and Sam Wilson’s freshly restored Lotus 20/22. “I really wanted a Lotus to win this event,” said Andrew after the drive of his life on a circuit where he always flies. The next morning Wilson managed to fight his way to the front as Andrew H and Milicevic battled for second.
In terms of race wins there was a familiar feel to the weekend as masters of historic racing Michael Lyons, Leo Voyazides, Simon Hadfield and Gary Pearson all scored multiple victories. Taking time out from his modern GT commitments, 21-year-old Lyons showed his class by crushing the opposition in both the FIA Masters Historic F1 races and Peter Gethin Trophy for F2 and F5000s. In RAM Williams FW07 and Lola T400, Lyons was in a league of his own as he stormed to four commanding wins. The 33-strong F1 grid was another highlight of the weekend.
Voyazides and Hadfield just keep on winning in both the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car race and the Sir John Whitmore Trophy for Under 2.0-litre Touring Cars. In Voyazides’ Lola T70 Mk3B, they chased Martin O’Connell’s flying Chevron B19 in the sports cars and then moved ahead in the later stages when Sandy Watson took over from O’Connell.
However, the star car of the race was the stunning Porsche 917 of Carlos Monteverde and Gary Pearson, which finished third behind the Lola of former winner Steve Tandy. Voyazides wasn’t overly impressed with some of the driving in the U2TC race, as he kept his supremely well sorted Lotus Cortina out of trouble before leaving Hadfield to complete the job. WTCC champion Andy Priaulx and Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver were in the thick of the action in BMWs, but over the closing stages solo racer Mark Jones came through to make it a Lotus Cortina one-two.
To prove a point, Voyazides matched Lyons’ tally by making it four wins with two clear victories in the Trans-AtlanticTrophy races for Pre-66 touring cars. His Ford Falcon, the work of Bruce Stevens who died earlier this summer, was peerless while the Minis, including that of WTCC racer Rob Huff, produced some of the biggest thrills as they challenged the more powerful cars.
Current BTCC racer Frank Wrathall claimed a double Touring Car Trophy success in his Vauxhall Cavalier, though 1992 BTCC champion Tim Harvey flew when reunited with his Sierra RS500 Cosworth… until it overheated. Harvey then followed the owner’s instructions to bring it home, no matter what.
The magnificent Jaguar XJR-14 of Nicolas Minassian, racing for the first time in more than 20 years, crushed the Group C field in a single race on Sunday. The Saturday evening event was lost to heavy rain that came close to washing out the International Trophy for Pre-66 GT cars, in which John and Gary Pearson splashed to victory in their Jaguar E-type.
Oldtimer Grand Prix
Oldtimer Grand Pri x co -fo under Hubertus Dönhoff’s wonderfully charismatic evening enduro for Pre-61 Sports and GT cars was the highlight of his event’s 41st edition at the Nürburgring on August 9-11. It kept spectators rapt until the fireworks climax.
Count Volpi’s Ferrari ‘Breadvan’ – which won in Gabriele Spangenberg and Max Werner’s hands – was a period 250 GT Berlinetta that only later assumed its more dramatic persona, but let’s not be too picky. Alex Buncombe’s Jaguar C-type set a searing pace, but was denied honours as dusk fell.
Earlier on Saturday, Buncombe (E-type) and Sean McInerney (TVR Griffith) stormed through a 48-car pack (which included Jochen Mass in an AC Cobra) to top a Masters Gentlemen Drivers Pre-66 GT thriller. Why the two quickest qualifiers started from the pit lane has not been explained, but their misfortune made the race… Seven Maserati 250Fs, five of them factorychassis, started the Pre-61 Grand Prix car race. After his Maserati 6C34’s engine block split during qualifying, Josef-Otto Rettenmaier wheeled out his T-car – an ex-Fangio 250F! The studious German guided it neatly to third on Sunday, behind the closely matched Philip Walker (Lotus 16) and Julian Bronson (Scarab).
Rush 1000cc F3 driver Dave Methley scorched his Brabham BT6 to victory over Mike Hibberd’s ex-works Lotus 27 in both FIA Lurani Trophy Historic Formula Junior legs. Triple Le Mans 24 Hours winner Marco Werner finished ninth overall from the back in Felix Haas’s Cooper T59, which was stranded by gearbox failure on his out lap in practice.
Michael Lyons (Longhorn/Williams FW07) and Stefano Rosina (Ecurie Evergreen McLaren M8C-DFV) bagged FIA Masters Formula One and Sports Car doubles, although Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) and Martin O’Connell (Chevron B19) got ahead of the favourites in their respective Saturday races.
A big BMW presence involved Marc Surer, Johnny Cecotto, Marc Hessel and Harald Grohs in marque races, while Surer (in Nelson Piquet’s F1 title-winning Brabham-BMW BT52) and Jo Winkelhock (V12 Le Mans sports car) gave enthusiastic demos.
Derek Bell, meanwhile, celebrated late Rothmans Porsche 956 team-mate Stefan Bellof’s lap record by taking the car around the Nordschleife, where Alex Furiani and Olivier Ellerbrock (Alfa Romeo GTA) won the three-and-a-half-hour Marathon on Friday, after the quicker machinery wilted.