Looking ahead to the historic racing seasonby Dickie Meaden on 8th January 2018
January's brief lull in motor sport action will soon kick back into gear as the historic racing season begins. Dickie Meaden sets out what 2018 has in store...
If you’ve got petrol in your veins and a race licence tucked in your wallet, January always feels a bit bleak. The weather’s rotten, there’s no testing, race cars are usually part-way through their winter rebuilds and the first big historic race meeting (Goodwood Members’ Meeting) is months away. Adrenaline is hard to come by.
Nevertheless there’s something I rather enjoy about this time of year. Free - temporarily at least - from the increasing time pressures of a packed season, and filled with anticipation for what’s to come, it’s the calm before the storm.
What does 2018 have in store for me, and therefore what will I be sharing with you? Plenty, I’m pleased to say, though precisely what, where and when remains a little bit fluid at this stage. There’s a very high chance I’ll be back out in two of my all-time favourite cars - a Lola T70 Mk3B and Cologne Capri 3100RS - in Peter Auto’s Classic Endurance Racing and Heritage Touring Cup Championship respectively. You simply can’t beat them for looks, noise or brute speed.
Sticking with the Heritage Touring Cup for a moment, I’m also hoping to get a few pre-season runs and (hopefully) a race or two in a rather fine Alfasud Sprint. An original Autodelta car built to wide-arch Group 2 regs, it is in the final stages of a complete restoration by Raceworks Motorsport and should be an absolute belter. I’ve never raced a front-wheel-drive historic (though I did do a few seasons of one-make stuff back in the mid-to-late Nineties) so it’s going to be a challenge to unlearn all my rear-drive habits.
In complete contrast to the Alfa there’s also strong chance I’ll get to race a short-wheelbase Porsche 911 in the new-for-2018 2.0L Cup. A one-make series for short-chassis 911s prepared to the FIA’s pre-66 specification, it has been created by Patrick Peter in association with Brits (and Porsche nuts) Lee Maxted-Page and James Turner. The racing - with rounds confirmed at Spa, Dijon and Paul Ricard, with a very exciting fourth round about to be announced - promises to be ultra-competitive and brilliant to watch.
Other highlights of the historic calendar I hope to take part in are Silverstone Classic - where fingers crossed I’ll have another crack at the fantastic U2TC race for pre-66 Touring cars with Andy Wolfe in his Mk1 Lotus Cortina - plus Goodwood Revival and the Spa 6 Hours. All are so good I’d happily attend as a spectator if my blarney deserts me and I fail to talk my way into a drive or three.
As if all this wasn’t enough three of historic racing’s biggest biannual events fall in 2018: Monaco Historic Grand Prix (May 11-13), Le Mans Classic (July 6-8) and Rennsport Reunion (Sept 27-30). We all acknowledge the modern Monaco Grand Prix as a glorious anachronism, but it seems even more remarkable to me that thanks to the historic event mere mortals (OK, mere mortals with considerable means) can take to the streets of Monte Carlo in everything from a pre-war Grand Prix car to a DFV-powered F1 car and race them as hard as they dare. I won’t be there this year, but very much hope to experience it one day. Bucket list stuff indeed.
I may be missing Monaco, but I’ll most definitely be at Le Mans Classic. I’ve been fortunate to take part in the last three LMC meetings, in everything from a gorgeous Alpine M65 and diminutive Lotus Elan 26R to a Jaguar D-Type and Lola T70 (though the latter suffered a terminal engine failure in practice). Once entries are confirmed I’ll spill the beans, but until then I’m keeping schtum for fear of jinxing things.
Rennsport Reunion is another of those events I’ve longed to see, but so far never managed. Entirely dedicated to competition Porsches and held at Laguna Seca, it’s absolute nirvana if a piece of your soul resides in Weissach. Looking at my diary it would appear that weekend is clear. Methinks an autumn holiday in search of California sunshine might swing with Mrs M, though packing a crash helmet in my hand luggage might be a giveaway. Wish me luck.