Now in its fifth year, the Silverstone International Historic Festival continues to go from strength to strength. The 1994 version, supported for the second year by Coys, admirably upheld the tradition by attracting the best fields to be seen at any historic event this year. When the British summer broke with a vengeance for part of Sunday, it did little to dilute the sizeable crowd's enjoyment.
As is now well-established, races take the form of two-part events with results determined on aggregate performance, the only exception being the FIA one-hour saloon car race which kicks off Sunday.
German Peter Groh had the honour of taking the first win of the weekend in the Taylor Woodrow Pre-war Sports Car Race, electing to drive single-handed and heading home compatriot Klaus Werner's similar Alfa Romeo 8C by quite some margin. Werner had sustained hopes of mounting a late challenge until the final lap, when battling backmarkers blocked his path on the exit from Luffield 2, causing a long run down the grass before he could regain the tarmac. Simon Draper and Stephen Archer brought the forrner's Ulster Aston Martin into a lonely third, while a superhuman effort by Soames Langton in Paul Benton's Bentley 4.5 earned fourth.
Part two saw the first three places repeated, but this time Groh's winning margin was more substantial. The two Alfas and the Aston were the only finishers to run the full distance. Langton had decided that the Bentley was not really suited to the new Silverstone (a view expressed by virtually all competitors) and did not start, leaving the Invicta of Jan van Heuten/Flavian Marcais to take fourth from John May's Speed Six.
The leading trio put on a fine high-speed display in the early stages of the Chopard/ HGPCA 100-mile Grand Prix Car Race, with Lindsay Owen-Jones (Maserati 250F Piccolo) narrowly heading Nigel Corner (Maserati 250F lightweight) and John Harper (in Vijay MaIlya's Vanwall VW10). They were separated by no more than a few lengths until the leader's engine blew at Becketts on the fourth lap, both pursuers having to make phenomenal avoidances on the resulting oil. The Vanwall emerged in front. to cheers from the partisans in the grandstands, but the lead was short-lived. A few more laps after Corner had assumed the lead, the Vanwall trailed in to retire, part of the throttle assembly having failed. This left Corner in command from Burkhard von Schenk's 250F after Gerry Porter (Cooper T43) pulled off and Tomas Bscher (V12 250F) spun onto the Copse gravel. Paul Burdell (Connaught B) overcame Duncan Ricketts (ERA R 12B) two laps from home to take third with Peter Hannen having a solitary run to fifth in Dan Margulies' 4CLT Maserati.
Sunday's grid assembled with the track awash. After some delay, Ricketts proved how conditions can be the great leveller, keeping Bill Morris's pre-war ERA ahead of the cream of 1950s Grand Prix cars for a lap. Corner took over for a while before Harper, who had started from the back, challenged successfully for the lead, reeling off the remaining laps with tremendous panache in the treacherous conditions. It was the first for the green teardrop since Moss triumphed at Casablanca in 1958. Corner comfortably took overall honours from von Schenck and, after two fine drives, Ricketts. Hannen found some reliability with the 4CLT to take fourth from Paul Alexander (Cooper Bristol).
Front-row man John Fitzpatrick was pushed off the grid to start the Classic Cars Sports Car Race from the pit lane, as Frank Sytner (Bamford D-type) outdragged poleman Peter Hannen (Hartmut Ibing Birdcage Maserati) to head the opening lap. Hannen was soon past. however, and he proceeded to open up a lead with the ex-Camoradi car while Frank was able to keep the other Birdcage of Lindsay Owen-Jones at bay.
Gary Pearson found it hard to keep up the pace with Paul Vestey's Jaguar D-type, rebuilt after its Magny-Cours excursion. Although it wasn't handling quite as it should, Pearson kept fourth until Jeffrey Pattinson (Cooper Monaco) displaced him on the penultimate lap. Towards the end. Hannen's lead vanished with the onset of gearbox problems, allowing Sytner to retake the lead on the final lap. The storming Pattinson, meanwhile, took third from Owen-Jones. Pearson was closely shadowed by John Beasley's Cooper Monaco. while Fitzpatrick had worked David Pennell's Lister up to seventh.
Wet conditions prevailed for Sunday's race, in which Sytner was headed only briefly, partly due to the antics of Fitzpatrick. John collided with Pearson at Stowe on the first lap, both cars spinning. Then he hit Beasley at Priory, spun at Luffield and, finally, collided again with Pearson at Brooklands, pushing the latter into a spin. All of this earned the secretary of the BRDC a black flag stop/go penalty just as he took the lead from Sytner!
A tigering drive from Pearson earned him second place as Fitzpatrick fought back to third at the flag from Owen-Jones, the first four also finishing in this order on aggregate. Fifth overall was Hannen, hampered again by his gearbox, with Peter Austin's Lotus I I first of the 'small fry' in a fine sixth.
Duncan Dayton was a new name to European racegoers, but the American had brought over his ex-Stacey Lotus 18, encouraged by regular visitor Joel Finn, and he placed it alongside Martin Stretton's Cooper T51 on the front row of the grid for the Innes Ireland Trophy Race (for Pre '65 GP/Tasman cars). Robs Lamplough, winner of the two previous rounds in the FORE series, had damaged his Lotus 33 in Friday's testing and was thus absent. Stretton, having his first race in the Cooper for two years and struggling with a recalcitrant second gear, led the opening lap from Dayton, Steve Griswold (Cooper T53) and Tomas Bscher's BRM P261 before being black-flagged for spilling fuel. A rapid stop saw him drop to fifth, letting Dayton run out the winner from mentor Finn in a similar Lotus 18, Rod Jolley (who made up for a tardy start) and Griswold. Bscher dropped from the leader-board with a spin at Abbey.
Needing to make up 20s on Dayton to take the overall win, Stretton put on a determined display in Sunday's rain, despite continuing gearbox problems. He took the lead from Finn at Copse on lap one and pulled away relentlessly. His success was only sealed on the final lap when Dayton, who was dicing for second with Allan Miles (Cooper T53), fell foul of the conditions and dropped back to third. He retained second in the final standings from Miles, Phil Walker (Lotus 16, the first front-engined car) and Paul Alexander in Rick Hall's Lotus 24. Dayton had the consolation of setting fastest lap in Saturday's race.
For the first time, AC Cobras featured in the Coys of Kensington GT Race and it was Bill Shepherd's which led the field for most of the first lap before Frank Sytner took the Bamford Ferrari 250 GTO to the front as the lightweight E-Types of Barrie Williams and John Fitzpatrick scrapped mightily for third. Shepherd stopped on the second lap to hand over to brother Andy, who promptly spun into the Abbey gravel with water leaking onto a front wheel. 'Whizzo' succeeded in holding Fitzpatrick at bay, and followed leader Sytner into the pits for a changeover after eight laps. Gary Pearson rejoined with the GTO without losing the lead and reeled off the final laps well clear
of Nigel Corner in the E-Type as Lindsay Owen-Jones brought his newly-acquired '64-bodied GTO home a close third. Peter Hannen and John Harper put in an excellent performance to bring the earlier 250 GT Ferrari to the finish in fourth ahead of Steves Hitchins and Griswold in the best of the Cobras.
The early laps of Sunday's race formed one of the highlights of the meeting as Hitchins' Cobra led initially lap from the inseparable trio of Sytner, Williams and Owen-Jones. Williams eventually threaded the silver E-Type past the Cobra, allowing him to pull away slightly before both GTOs further relegated the AC.
All three leaders pitted on the same lap, and Corner managed to retain Barrie's hard-earned lead to take the flag from Pearson, Owen-Jones and Stefano Violati in a 250GT which finished the worse for wear after an assault by the Marazzoni/Tonetti E-Type. Being run for the first time, the MOTOR SPORT Pre '70 Le Mans Car Race attracted a varied field of prototypes and GTs and included one former Le Mans winner in the shape of Richard Attwood, who shared David Piper's Porsche 91 7K with Ross Hyett, This combination took Saturday's race, although the Lola T70s of Jonathan Baker/
John Starkey and David Franklin/Chris O'Neill offered a challenge. Piper's T70, in the hands of MG specialist Colin Pearcy and Italian Mauro BoreIla had been up to second at one stage, but dropped to fourth, well clear of the Scotti/Goodwin Porsche 906. Piper drove his own Ferrari 365P and indulged in a formation dice with team-mate Chris Rea, who relished his drive in a blood-red 275LM and acquitted himself well, finishing seventh behind the team patron.
On a damp track, Sunday's race was more closely contested with Attwood making a relaxed start allowing Franklin in the O'Neill Lola to take an early lead from the Porsche and Borella's Lola, which indulged in a couple of spins at Brooklands without losing a place. Hyett took over the Porsche on lap six and dropped to third, retaking the lead when Franklin handed the car back to its owner. Storming through the order after an early spin, the Starkey/Baker Lola was making inroads on the leader and by the end of the penultimate lap was on Hyett's tail, emerging ahead under braking for Copse. Despite Baker's success, Attwood/Hyett won overall with Lola T70s packing the next three places in the order Starkey/Baker, O'Neill/Franklin and BoreIla/ Pearcy. Chris Rea improved on his first race performance, taking fifth and winning the 1960-1965 class with a solo drive.
An amazing 52 starters produced the largest field to be seen at Silverstone this year for the FIA Historic Touring Car Race, and it included quality in depth on the driving front with familiar faces such as Sandro Munari (Alfa Giulia Sprint), Rauno Aaltonen/Dieter Ouester (BMW 1800TI), Hubert Hahne (Jaguar MkI ), Toine Hezemans (Alfa GTA). Carlo Facetti (Alfa Giulia) and Stirling Moss (sharing one of Leo Voyazides' Ford Falcons with Tony Lanfranchi).
Munari proved to be the star, the former rally ace and Targa Florio winner taking the Alfa into an unassailable lead. He handed over to Maurizio Ambrogetti, who finished over 45s ahead of the Ouester/Aaltonen BMW, who held a race-long second place, and Silverstone regulars Paulo lasson/ Giorgio Schon with their Alfa GTA.
Greatest interest centred, in the closing stages, on the battle for the over-2500 cc class which brewed up between the Falcons of Moss/Lanfranchi, Picko Troberg/Bengt Winqvist and Tony Dron/Gordon Bruce. A late charge from Dron allowed him to capitalise when Lanfranchi hit the wall at Club, after the rain had started, and on the final lap Troberg's engine lost all its oil. Tony survived the slick to take the class win and sixth place. A S D C