Such were the events this year’s Classic brought to mind as it splashed into life on the Friday, in its final running before switching to an August Bank Holiday slot from 2022. That, of course, is when Oulton Park’s Historic Gold Cup traditionally runs; it would be bewilderingly stupid for the two to clash, so one can but trust they won’t…
Rubbish weather confers certain advantages at Silverstone, though, especially if you are taking photographs rather than driving. The backdrop – a fusion of debris mesh, scaffold grandstands and concrete – does not match the magnificence of the track it envelops, so large rooster tails can be a useful artistic aid.
Whatever one might think of the venue, however, there is no denying the consistently high quality of The Classic in terms of the entry it attracts and the racing it generates.
One can but wonder why some of these cars are seldom seen elsewhere.
Vintage Sports-Car Club
Prescott, August 7
Hard to believe almost two years had passed since last I set foot in Prescott; the correct word, I believe, is ‘idiot’. Absence, though, does what it says on the tin.
The feelgood factor kicks in long before you reach sleepy Gotherington, at the foot of the final rise towards the venue. On a quiet, sunny morning – the weather refusing to comply with prophecies of doom on the BBC App – the A40 is a lovely road to drive, particularly once you’re in the open countryside beyond Burford.
If only all competitive commutes could be this way.
It was the first day of the VSCC’s traditional August meeting, the only event that still deploys the 880-yard short course first used in 1938 (and bereft of the 247 yards that form Ettores loop).
As is traditional at VSCC events, the atmosphere is engaging throughout the paddock and all the way along the course (though enthusiasm is slightly dampened halfway through the afternoon, when BBC Weather finally proves to be correct, several hours behind schedule).
Bentleys, ERAs and Bugattis convey a certain period elegance as they sashay their way to the summit, but much of the meeting’s core charm comes from the thundering Edwardians and eccentrically fashioned single-seaters such as the Gnat, GN Spider and Austin Maggot. The inclusive nature of VSCC events adds a certain something, too; the cars might belong to a certain generation, but their drivers represent several.
This isn’t just a wonderful motor racing spectacle, it’s a highlight of our national sporting calendar.
British Racing & Sports Car Club
Oulton Park, August 14
Confession time. If you were at the Oulton Park Fun Cup race in October 2010 and wondered why the race commentary was a little lopsided in mid-afternoon, I can explain.
Having been persuaded against my better judgement to have a go at talking rather than writing – and on a weekend off between the Japanese and Korean Grands Prix, when perhaps it might have been wisest to stay in Asia – I found myself stationed in the Knickerbrook commentary box, talking about 25 VW Beetles shared by about 60 drivers of whom I knew relatively little.
By way of habit, I had my cameras with me and might be unusual in having commentated on a race while simultaneously trying to take photos through the window, but I digress…
After about 90 minutes, half-distance, the excellent lead commentator Richard Sproston invited me to join him in the main box on the pit straight, so he could go for a wander and conduct pit interviews. I did as instructed, but took rather longer than anticipated as the opportunity to take a few more photos en route was all too tempting.
Apologies, Richard, but I did get there eventually.
More than 10 years would pass before I’d renew acquaintance with the Fun Cup – and this time I had no intention of doing anything other than stay outdoors.
There wasn’t much scope to weave a supporting cast around the event’s four-hour pivot, but there were solid entries for the Modified Ford Series and CityCar Cup (Citroën C1s, Peugeot 107s and Toyota Aygos, so a one-make series in all but badge), although the latter lost a few cars in a sizeable first-corner pile-up that caused the opening race to be red-flagged. The result for the second would be declared after a solitary lap, after another interruption caused by a barrier-flattening episode at Lakeside…
Things were a little calmer – or at least, less disruptive – in the main event. It took Fabio Randaccio/Farquini Deott only a couple of laps to come through from the back of the ballot-drawn grid to challenge at the front, but once there they were involved in a fierce contest to the end. With only a couple of laps to go they crossed the line absolutely level with the Team Olympian Beetle of Kristian Rose/Riley Phillips/Chris Dovell – and it was only when the latter subsequently ran wide at Shell, while trying to wrest the lead, that the outcome was settled.
I shall endeavour to watch again before 2032.
Brands Hatch, August 22
You rarely see many original Minis on the road nowadays, but on this occasion the M25 and A20 were full of the things. With themed events such as this, the journey can be almost as entertaining as the racing.
Actually that’s not strictly true, because not many things can match a Mini for competitive zest. After the opening Miglia event, one of the marshals at Paddock turned to his colleagues and said, “I think that was the greatest race I’ve ever seen.”
He had a point.
Endaf Owens recovered from a brush with the Paddock gravel to get the best of a hard, clean tussle with Andrew Jordan and Aaron Smith. The three swapped places constantly and effectively formed a 12-wheeled Mini for most of the 19 laps – copybook racing within an exquisite amphitheatre.