Among a record-breaking entry at Silverstone

Historic Racing News

A record-breaking grid of 82 cars had to be split in two at Silverstone. Among them was Ed Foster, rejoining the Equipe GTS ranks.

For those that read about our last racing adventure you could be forgiven for thinking that we had called it a day in the name of self preservation. To the contrary, I was back out again on Silverstone’s flowing Grand Prix track for MGLive! recently. 

Nick was watching a clubby somewhere near Le Mans in France so it was left to my brother and me to drive the MGB. After the trials of the last race I took the executive decision to get Alf Hughes along, the man who usually works on the car in Scotland. It’s not often that I make inspired decisions, but this was one. Not once did the bonnet flip up when exiting the pits and we didn’t nearly lose a wheel either. The car, despite doing so much track time, didn’t miss a beat. 

This was also our first racing with Equipe GTS for a number of years and what a breath of fresh air it was. Many years ago my father competed in the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association at Silverstone in a 1948 Simca Gordini and while my overriding memory is of how cold it was in our tent (I woke to find my father quite happy in his full race suit plus balaclava), I also remember going to a drinks organised by the club on the Saturday night. It seemed like a group of friends who did some racing on the side rather than a hardened group of competitive drivers who barely exchanged words. Equipe GTS was just like the HGPCA that I remember. On Saturday evening organisers John and Rob put on a hog roast and even offered free beer. Yes, free! If I was a more cynical man I would put this down to them trying to get an edge in the racing the next day. Sadly they are far too decent for that and because they both compete themselves they know what like-minded racers want: lots of track time alongside pig and beer…

In fact, Equipe GTS was so popular at MGLive! that they had to double the number of races they held from two to four. Over the two double headers (the grid was split into an A group and a B depending on previous lap times/form) we got two half-hour races and a 20-minute qualifying session each. All of which was quite hard work on the hottest June day in the UK since 1976. Indeed, the track temperature was 47degC at one point. Alf had to return to Scotland looking like he had spent a week in the south of France. Alf, I hope your wife believed you when you said you had been to Silverstone…

Onboard around the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in the Austin Healey 100/4 of Jonathan Abecassis.

John and Rob use a yellow/red card system whereby any on-track bad behaviour is ‘rewarded’ with a yellow card. Your every move is then watched and you risk getting a red card, which means you’re out, not to be invited back. Bar a few moments the standard of driving is fantastic as a result. They’re lucky that they have so many competitors as otherwise such a system wouldn’t work. Perhaps it’s why they have so many.

But for a puncture in my brother’s first race we finished all of them – him in seventh and me in 13th and then 14th. While we were one of the faster Bs we were nowhere near the front-runners, whose lap times were spectacular. A 2min 37sec lap around the GP circuit in an MGB is quite something and the best I could muster was a 2min 42. Carrera Cup champion of 2002, Mark Cole won both of the A group races in what can only be described as the world’s fastest FIA MGB. It’s beautifully prepared and any rumours of cheating are quickly quashed by Equipe GTS’s approach to checking engines. I think we need to enlist the help of Adrian Newey and Ross Brawn to give BRX 855B an overhaul. Meanwhile Nick and I need to go and see Rob Wilson… 

A successful weekend’s racing, then. Especially after John Hutchison of the MG Car Club helped us find a camping spot for our borrowed Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo. Not only did it tow the MGB, but it also provided some five-star luxury sleeping. It also prompted hours of discussion on what the perfect racing set-up was. A full-on campervan? Or a smaller one like the Marco Polo? Answers on a postcard please…

We’ll be back on track next weekend at Snetterton, hopefully, and this time we’ll be back to the usual chaos with Alf staying in Scotland. Strap yourselves in, as they say. 

Photos courtesy Dickon Siddell and David Russell Wilks

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