Blistering racing thrills crowds at Coys Festival

Unsurprisingly, given the nature of the beasts, BRM’s Golden Jubilee centrepiece did not follow the script, but 66,000 paying spectators (over three days) witnessed superlative racing at Silverstone’s eighth Coys International Historic Festival, presented by Chrysler for the third year, in July.

As so often in period, the shrill note of BRM V16s was brief. In a crescendo of revs, 76-year-old former works driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez overheated the Donington Museum car on the line, while Nick Mason failed to get away with Saturday’s ‘dream grid.’ It ran hard on Sunday though, which would have thrilled BRM founder Raymond Mays, looking down on his 100th birthday.

Nonetheless, a great turnout of BRM drivers was honoured at a special dinner hosted by David Owen of Rubery Owen, which took over BRM in ’52. Many were reunited with original cars. Stirling Moss drove a P25, alongside Richard Attwood (P26I), Howden Ganley (P153), Peter Gethin (P160), JeanPierre Beltoise (P180) and Francois Migault (P201) among others including Clay Regazzoni back at the scene of his last Grand Prix win in 1979.

Other celebrations included centenaries for both Lagonda and Sunbeam and 50 years since Jaguar’s maiden XK120 victory. Sponsor Coys of Kensington’s 80th birthday was marked with a class win by chairman Jeffrey Pattinson with his Aston Martin DB3S.

John Harper (Cooper Monaco) had to fight to win the ’50s spectacular on aggregate, with Alan Minshaw’s Maserati T61 `Birdcage’ on his heels. Diff failure put Saturday victor Robert Brooks’s Lotus 15 out early on Sunday, when Gary Pearson stormed from row three to pip Harper and Minshaw.

The HGPCA’s superb Pre-66 GP/Tasman car field put on two great charges, Harper on top in his Cooper T53 after first race winner John Beasley (Brabham BT4) and Attwood (BRM P261) spun on oil. Duncan Dayton and Sid Hook led the 1.5-litre V8 F1 brigade in Brabham BT11 and Cooper 166.

Dayton won The Force’s Classic GP race in his Brabham BT33, and drove brilliantly in the Ferrari-Maserati Challenge. Chasing Pearson’s P3/4, he kept David Piper’s 275LM ahead of Christoph Stieger’s 3I2P for a long way on Saturday.

The Lotus 16s of Spencer Flack and Philip Walker outran Harper’s BRM P25 in the Pre-’61 GP races. Nigel Corner and Barrie Williams took Pre-’64 GT honours, while a splendid pre-war sportscar enduro was narrowly won by Charles Jones and Martin Walfords MG K3.

Once Mark Hales’s Ferrari 512S was out, Jonathan Baker’s Alfa Romeo 133 led the Lola 170s in the Pre-72 Le Mans feature.