The iconic Brands Hatch circuit in the South East of England hosted the
11th running of the annual Masters Historic Festival. Brands Hatch, being
inextricably linked with Formula One racing seemed a fitting location to
also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary Cosworth DFV engine,
Grand Prix racing’s most dominant power unit, which left a winning legacy
from the late 1960s through to the early 1980s. The event was to celebrate
the 50th anniversary by way of a Lunchtime demo on the Sunday of a range of
cars which utilised this power unit.
Saturday morning saw a huge downpour during the initial session, which
drenched the sun baked track, after a week of unseasonable warmth across
the UK. Negotiating the tricky conditions initially were the Stena Line
Gentlemen Drivers grid, with the practice session for the Masters Historic
Formula One going out subsequently on a rapidly drying track, as the sun
appeared, and an almost tropical humidity enveloping the tree lined
circuit. Despite this, Michael Lyons in the Williams FW07B set a blistering
lap in practice, over a second quicker than his nearest competitor.
With the majority of Saturdays track time taken with qualifying sessions,
as unbroken sunshine saw idyllic conditions for racing, it was the Historic
Touring Car challenge that launched the racing for the day. What seemed a
straightforward performance for Mark Smith in the BMW M3, as he stretched
to a healthy lead over the pursuing Metro Turbo and Capri 2600RS, an early
retirement for Smith, and a spectacularly blown turbo for the Metro of
Watts/Smith, it was left for Mark Dance to bring the Ford Capri 2600RS home
in top spot, ahead of BTCC’s Adam Morgan and Ric Wood in the Capri 3400,
and the glorious Rover SD1 of Charlie Williams in the first of two races
over the weekend.
The initial Masters Historic Formula One race saw the Williams FW07B of
Michael Lyons sit on pole, and unfazed by a safety car period in the first
race, controlled the race supremely to take a well deserved win ahead of
the Shadow DN5 of Nick Padmore, and Ensign N180 of Simon Fish.
A 90 minute race for the Stena Line Gentlemen Drivers concluded the first
days racing, with an incredibly healthy grid packed with a host of Pre 1966
GT cars. Ordinarily a battle between the AC Cobras and Jaguar E Types, the
race was won quite comfortably in the end by the Cobra of Michael Gans and
Andy Wolfe, with the ever impressive TVR Griffith of Mike Whittaker
claiming second spot, narrowly edging out the stunning Bizzarrini 5300GT of
Roger Wills into third.
With a slightly cooler and more refreshing temperature to commence
proceedings on the Sunday morning, the smooth lines and endearing contours
of the grid for the Stirling Moss trophy took to the track The Lister
Costin of Chris Ward dominating the race, with Michael Gans in the
curvaceous Lotus 15 heading home in second.
The second of the Historic Touring Car Challenge races saw luck return to
Mark Smith in the BMW M3, easing to the win, ahead of the ever competitive
Capri of Mark Dance, and the Ford Boss Mustang of Peter Hallford. A real
step back in time to the golden era of the late ’60s, 70’s and 80s Touring
Car racing, the grid brought delight to the crowd in the second of two
The lunchtime break gave no respite for the crowd to retreat, as the
Cosworth DFV demonstration was arguably one of the highlights of the
weekend. Indeed, the sound of the DFV unit brings both joy, and perhaps a
mere hint of pain to the listeners ears. On track to commemorate this
legendary engine, the Brands Hatch crowd were treated to a feast of
historic Formula One cars, including the McLaren M14A, Williams FW04, Lotus
88, March 821 and McLaren M26. The crowd, enthralled by this demonstration,
served to prove that the legacy of the DFV is not forgotten, and indeed, a
new generation of fans had just been won over.
With barely enough time to let the dust settle and the calm return to the
Kent countryside, it was time for the Masters Historic Formula One to take
centre stage once more, in the second of their two races over the weekend.
With the Williams of Michael Lyons retiring with a broken driveshaft after
the first lap, it was left to Martin Stretton in the stunning Tyrrell 012
to claim a hard fought win over the Arrows A4 of Steve Hartley, with an
ever impressive Nick Padmore in the Shadow DN5 taking a class win and third
Strictly adhering to period specification, the RAC Woodcote Trophy for post
war sports racing cars up to 1955 saw an elegant field comprised of
unmistakable racers such as the Jaguar D Type, Aston Martin DB2 and DB3 and
the Lister Bristol Flat Iron. The race was dominated by the Cooper T38 of
Gillette & Blakeney-Edwards, with an enthralling fight for second place
between the Jaguar D Type of Benjamin Eastick and Karl Jones, and the
Cooper Bristol T24/25 of John Ure and Nick Wigley, a mere 0.082s separating
the pair at the chequered flag.
One of the undoubted highlights of the event was the FIA Masters Historic
Sports Cars race, and a field packed with the heavyweights from Lola,
Chevron, McLaren, Ford and Porsche. A sudden downpour before the race
drenched both the track, and the hordes of spectators eagerly anticipating
the start. With the race started under safety car conditions, the water was
soon dispensed by the field, and a residual heat soon dried out the racing
line. The Chevron B19 of Martin O’Connell taking the chequered flag over
half a minute ahead of his closest rivals, the gorgeous Lola T212 of Robert
Oldershaw, followed by Gary Pearson in the Lola T70 on the third step of
Concluding the weekends racing, the Tony Brise Trophy, for Classic Formula
Ford, saw a huge grid of cars taking to the track. Easing to the victory
was Adriano Medeiros in his Van Diemen RF80, followed by Mike O’Brien in
the Merlyn MK20 which took the class win, with a stellar drive from Simon
Hadfield in the Titan Mk4 to come from last place on the grid to claim 7th
overall and second in class.
A fitting tribute to possibly the greatest racing engine of living memory,
the Brands Hatch Masters Historic Festival saw a healthy crowd entertained
by a feast of historic machinery, showing that enthusiasm for classic
racing is very much alive in the UK. Brands Hatch, with its undoubted
history, yet intimate atmosphere, provides the perfect stage to witness
historic racing, and it is with this sentiment, that the memory of a
fantastic weekend of historic racing will live on in the memory of
racegoers and drivers alike for a long time to come.
The seventh staging of the Spa Classic, held at the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit in the Ardennes region of Belgium grows from strength to strength with each year. One of the highlights of the European classic racing scene, the extensive grids and exciting atmosphere continue to draw large crowds. 2017 saw over 20,000 spectators flocking to the prestigious circuit, eager with anticipation for three days of exciting action both on and off the track.
With Friday hosting over a half a day of practice and qualifying sessions, Saturday saw over 15 hours of track time, with the GT1 Sports club opening proceedings with a 30 minute track demo early in the morning, followed by the remaining qualifying session. The first race of the day was the Trofeo Nastro Rosso. Open to pre-1966 Sports and GT cars with Italian heritage with a few notable machines on invitation, this evocative class was the perfect way to commence proceedings. Won by Vincent Gaye in the Ferrari 275 GTB/C, leading the Bizzarrini 5300GT and Maserati T61 in the other podium positions.
Newly added for this year, the Euro F2 class provided an exciting and closely fought race, with Martin Stretton winning both races over the weekend by a margin of only 3 seconds in his March 782 from Matthew Watts in the March 772. The first single seater series organised by Peter Auto,for cars that made the reputation of the European Championship between 1967 and 1978, was the proving ground for many a Formula One driver, and on the basis of this close and exciting racing over the weekend, one can certainly see why.
One of the marquee events on the Peter Auto calendar, is that of the Group C racing. Widely considered as one of the most legendary periods of racing, this golden era of endurance racing gave rise to some of the most recognisable and fondly remembered cars.
Race 1 saw the Sauber Mercedes C11 on pole, at the hands of Nicolas Minassian in the first of two 45 minute races over the weekend. An onslaught of sight and sound ensued, as these thunderous Group C beasts took about the 7km circuit. Steve Tandy in the Spice SE90 leading the field home after a spirited drive, with the Mercedes C11 claiming second, ahead of the Spice SE89 piloted by Mike Wrigley. The second race saw the Spice of Tandy claiming the second win of the weekend, with a fantastic drive by Michael Lyons in the Gebhardt C91 to place second, ahead of the Mercedes C11.
Late afternoon and evening on Saturday saw a feast of classic endurance racing, with a two hour race into the night for the Sixties Endurance grid, featuring a quality field that consisted of the top pre-63 sports cars and pre-66 GTs that raced in the World Endurance Championship of the time. Racing into the fading light of evening, as the temperatures dropped in the dark Belgian forest, was an evocative reminder of the essence of classic endurance racing. As one might have expected, the Shelby Cobras filled the top positions, ahead of Jaguar E Types, Porsche 911 2Ls, Shelby Mustang 350GTs, and Lister Knobblys, to name but a few. The two hours of racing, went right down to the wire, with a winning margin of only 0.6s separating the leading Cobras, Philipp Oetli taking the honours, ahead of Andrew Beverley and Mike Humphreys.
Two races for the Heritage Touring Cup on Saturday Evening saw hotly contested racing, pitting the Touring Car greats of yesteryear in two enthralling races. The Ford Capri 2600RS of Yves Scemama winning both times, ahead of the exciting battle for second place in Race 1, between the BMW 3.0CSL of Eric Mestdagh and Pierre-Alain Thibaut and the Volvo 240T of Andrew Beverley. Race 2, which raced long into the evening, finishing just after midnight, saw a Ford Escort 1600RS and Ford Capri 2600RS taking second and third steps on the podium respectively.
2017 also sees the 14th season of the ever popular Classic Endurance Racing. Split into two tiers, one for GT cars from 1966-74 and Prototypes from 1966-71, and the other for later cars, namely GT cars from 1975-81 and Prototypes from 1972-1981. The series have enjoyed great success throughout Europe and the atmosphere of these races takes you back to the glorious days of the Sports Car World Championship. With extensive and varied grids in both tiers, the two races on Sunday proved to be the highlight of the day, and helped to waken those spectators left sleepy from the previous nights racing. Plateau 1 saw the Chevrons and Lolas leading the field, with the Chevron B19 of Philipp Bruehwiler taking the overall win, whilst Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac took a class win in their striking Porsche 911 RSR 3.0L.
Plateau 2, amid flaming exhausts and thunderous noise, saw Yves Scemama take the honours in the striking Warsteiner livery of his TOJ SC 304 and the unforgettable Lancia Beta Montecarlo of Franco Meiners winning the GT Class.
The Spa Classic is one of the most authentic ways to experience the glory days of endurance racing. The undulating circuit, weaving its way through the forest of the Ardennes seems perfectly suited to these beasts of yesteryear. To stand and behold these varied and extensive grids, with drivers ready to do battle on the Belgian tarmac is an experience that is hard to match in the current era.
A beautiful morning as David Archer & myself set off down the A19 for one of our favourite meetings of the year, only 50 mins drive and we were there.
A great turn out of Cars & Motorcycles for one of the UKs few meetings held on a closed road, no doubt the glorious sunshine swelled the numbers of entries.
There are always some weird & wonderful machines at this meeting, this year was no exception.
The Silverstone Classic is one of the most highly regarded classic Motorsport events in Europe, even billing itself as the Worlds’ biggest Classic Motor Racing Festival. I had not visited Silverstone for a race day since the 1986 British Grand Prix, when I was a lad, and Nigel Mansell clinched a last gasp victory from the clutches of Nelson Piquet.
It was with eager anticipation that I made the journey down, to cover the event for Autosportpics. I hadn’t shot at Silverstone before, so I was looking forward to being able to put my own spin on the track, and with a veritable feast of classic machinery on display, I was sure that I would come home with some great memories.
The highlight of the event (although there are many) would be having the opportunity to shoot the Group C race into a blazing sunset on Saturday evening. These phenomenal cars were the stuff of dreams when I was growing up, and I had the chance to watch them race in my youth. To relive that dream armed with a camera, was a fantastic experience, and one I shall not forget, the mix of sunset colours, glowing brake discs and the spit of exhaust flames was a heady mix.
Another particular highlight was to see the ex Mika Hakkinen McLaren on track, being driven incredibly well, allowing the crowd to experience the game-changing sound of the Mercedes V10 engine at full chat, reverberating around the stands.
On track racing was incredibly good, despite the huge amounts of money invested in preserving the staggering range of classic sports cars, the drivers were, to a man, driving hell for leather around the demanding Northamptonshire circuit. Notable races were the Supertourers, where Colin Noble Jr was put under immense pressure in his Vauxhall Vectra from a superbly driven Honda Accord, but managed to hold out for the race win on both occasions.
The duel between the Matra V12 and the McLaren M8F in the Can-Am Inter Series Cup was legendary. The scream of the Matra V12 was pitted against the raw power of the 8.8litre Mclaren. I can’t find the words to describe the cacophony that these two created, but if you ever get the chance to witness these cars jousting it out on track. Take it without a second thought.
The event attracted a good size crowd, and was incredibly well run and organised. It was a pleasure to be able to attend on behalf of Autosportpics.
After our little expedition overseas to “Spa” & “The Ring” it was time to come back down to earth with some real grass roots racing.
Organised by Middlesbrough & District Motor Club this has to be one of the prettiest venues for a motorsport event, we were also blessed with a day of wonderful sunshine.
A very friendly bunch with some amazing machinery straight out of the shed, motorsport at its best grassroots level, definitely one for the diary next year.
More pictures here Aske Hall Sprint
The whole team travelled to Spa including the new trainee Mark. This time we had a change of plan and went from Newcastle to Amsterdam to save the journey to Hull, and overall it was a much easier trip. We sailed out of Newcastle on the Thursday evening in glorious sunshine and were soon sipping the first of a few beverages. After a late evening and a small gin we settled down for the night, the 0600 buzzer sounded way too soon!! We actually arrived nearly two hours late into Amsterdam due to thick fog, so just after ten we were on our way south to Spa- Francorchamps.
We arrived at the circuit at 1500hrs after checking into our accommodation at Stavelot and a bomb burst ensued with us all heading in different directions looking for the shots we missed last year. We regrouped just after 2000hrs and headed back to the accommodation.
The following morning we set off just after breakfast to travel approx. 70 miles to The Nurburgring and the VLM endurance race. The weather slowly deteriorated and was raining “stair rods” by the time we got there, Matty was organised as usual and hadn’t brought a coat so he was soon fitted out with a designer bin bag.
We then travelled back to Spa for the evening endurance race and were blessed with a spectacular sunset.
and some super light trails.
A late finish today 2200hrs and by this time everyone was starving, so it was off to “Le Restaurant Grill Steak House” for a superb steak and an even better gin & tonic, we then headed back for a quite night at the digs with a bottle of Gin & some local brew.
Sunday was our last day at Spa and it was nice & hot apart from one cloudburst that resulted in a red flagged race, but as usual at Spa it wasn’t long before the sun was drying the track again.
It was with heavy heart once again we left Spa after a wonderful meeting and headed for an overnight stop in Uttrecht before sailing back to Newcastle on Monday evening.
A final trip out before Spa for myself & David Archer to one of our favourite meetings of the year.
The monsterous 24Litre Napier Bentley smoking its back wheels
An easy trip down to Harewood of approx. 1 hour 15 mins had us drooling at some of the cars just in the car park.
An absloute plethora of amazing historics being used as they should be.
After a dull start to the day we were blessed with beautiful sunshine all afternoon.
Ford Model B single seater special
Once a popular class at Harewood, pre-94 Formula Fords have less support these days. Except, that is, from Robert Spedding and Ben Tranter who are still regular contenders in their shared Vector. Just eight of these rare machines were built in 1993 by Dutchman Wiet Huidekoper and featured the then new monoshock front suspension very similar to that pioneered by Dallara, by whom Huiderkoper was previously employed! In a close opening duel, Spedding led the first class of the day by a tenth, but later Tranter found over a second to get the final verdict.
A strong class of Baylis and Harding Porsche Championship runners were led all the way by Tim Barber’s 911SC, who pulled clear to leave David Hilton over a second adrift in his 996 GT3.
The Roadgoing Specialist division was expected to be a Warburton benefit, but young David had to give best to HSA contender Chris Howard-Harris who led after the first runs in his Caterham Superlight R. Unfortunately that was all that was seen of the Warbys as a broken propshaft sidelined both Allan and David, leaving Simon Jenks to grab a narrow third place from CH-H’s co-driver Lynn Gilbert.
After Les Procter, running on his own, had lowered his own pre-72 sportsracing record in his immaculate Sebring Sprite it was the turn of the ‘B’ licence entrants in the SBD/HSA Championship class. Top runner from the HSA perspective was 2010 champion Tony Thomas, whose time in the Mazda MX5 was quick enough to take the series lead in this year’s series. The final class was for BARC Yorkshire Centre members and scored to their own unique formula. On scratch, the only single-seater in the class not surprisingly set the pace as Ed and Steve Carter took their Jedi to the one/two ahead of Richard Paterson’s Raw Striker. But it was Paterson that took award on handicap, from Richard Archbould’s Evo 6.
As the British Championship big hitters came out for their points-scoring run-offs, Wallace Menzies was playing himself back in after his big Shelsley accident and the rebuilt Firestorm was still minus an engine cover, the correct undertray and one or two other parts. Although the understandably cautious Wallace had been bumped out of qualifying for the opening run-off by Steve Owen, he made the cut for the final shoot-out, qualifying and finishing tenth. Earlier, Deryk Young had suffered a gearbox breakage on the 4-litre Gould-Judd and struggled over the line to finish out of the points, but at least the car had survived long enough to allow his wife Sue to take the best part of a second off Sandra Tomlin’s eight-year-old Harewood ladies’ record.
In spite of the British weather throwing almost everything it had at it, the Donington Historic Festival presented three days of hugely exciting historic motor racing over the Bank Holiday weekend (April 30th-May 2nd).
Classic motorsport fans were treated to a vast range of competition cars from the 1920s up to the 1990s, campaigning in a challenging range of climatic conditions ranging from torrential rain and hail to high winds and even a scattering of snow! Happily these were not constant throughout the weekend, and there was plenty of sunshine to show Donington off in all its park-like beauty; and the frequently wet track made for some very interesting racing indeed.
The rare and valuable historic competition machines were in safe hands, however, with drivers such as Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver and Touring Car giants John Cleland, Tim Harvey and Steve Soper representing earlier generations of racers, and present-day BTCC stars Andrew Jordan, Matt Neal and Colin Turkington showing that today’s drivers are just as comfortable behind the wheel of a decades-old race car as they are battling it out in the latest works offering. Andrew Jordan and his father Mike took the chequered flag in the final contest of the meeting, steering their Austin A40 – rebadged Austin GT40 for DHF – to victory in the HRDC Touring Greats race.
Other well-known faces spotted around the paddock included musician Chris Rea, who turned in an arresting performance in his Morris Minor ‘Police’ car, and motorsport pundit Tony Jardine, who took to the track in an E-type in the Jaguar Classic Challenge. And a familiar face to fans of 70s and 80s motor racing – Tony Dron – was on hand to present the trophies for the inaugural round of Motor Racing Legends’ Tony Dron Trophy, incorporated within MRL’s packed Historic Touring Car Challenge grid.
The Festival saw a mass presence of pre-War sports cars in the ‘Mad Jack’ race, and the DHF debut of the Pre-80 Endurance series, which pitched Lola T292 and T282 against Chevron B19 and March 75S in a fantastic battle. And it was also Lola vs. Chevron (though this time T70s and B8s) in the mammoth, three-hour HMRN ‘1000km’ race into dusk on the Saturday evening.