The Silverstone Classic 2010: Race Report and Photo Gallery
The Silverstone Classic conjures up images of classic racing cars thundering round Silverstone’s former Grand Prix circuit, this years event didn’t disappoint. The 22 race programme ranging from the HSCC’s ‘big engined touring cars’ of the 60’s to the enigmatic Cosworth 3 litre howl of the Grand Prix Masters F1 cars 1966-1985, to the Masters ‘Gentleman drivers’ Pre 66 GT & sports endurance cars. The race card featured over 800 racing cars from mini’s to Matra’s and Ferrari’s to Falcons with over 1000 drivers signed up to do battle across the weekend.
Obviously the main attraction is the racing but the Classic has many facets, 6000 classic cars from 120 plus car clubs, a fun fair, demos from the world of drag racing and rallying on the Wellington straight a huge trade village where one could purchase anything from a leather key fob to classic car parts or automotive art. On top of this, automotive auction specialists Bonham’s were present to sell amongst other things the Honda F1 ‘Bonneville 400’ F1 car which set a land speed record for an F1 car of 397 kph back in 2006. Friday and Saturday evening saw live music from the likes of Dr Feelgood, Rick Parfitt Jr, and X factor’s Jedward!
I concentrated on the track action and saw some great dices, beautiful cars and legendary drivers.
With qualifying on Friday, the grids were set for Saturdays races and at 09:00 the first of 22 battles commenced with the Masters FIA Mini with oldies but goodies which was won by Andrew Hack in a 1965 Mini Cooper S, closely followed by Nick Swift who had led the race until the final lap, the duo were followed home by Mark Hunt 15 seconds later. In the second race Mark Hunt triumphed with the Turner 1650 of Ben Adams putting in a spirited drive to second with Hack rounding out the podium.
Next up was the first of two outings for Historic Formula Juniors with the Colin Chapman Trophy race. No less than 44 cars took to the grid headed by Jon Milicevic who put his Cooper T59 on the pole, the Caravelle Mk2 of Callum MacLeod lining up along side on the front row, the second and third rows locked out by Lotus drivers Michael Hibberd, Simon Diffey, Urs Uberhardt and Martin Walford. Milicevic came under some early pressure from MacLeod but the Caravelle’s gearbox gave up the ghost giving the Cooper driver an 18 second win over Hibberd and Uberhardt’s Lotus 27s. Race two on Sunday, for The Jim Clark Trophy saw a titanic battle for the win between Milicevic and MacLeod, whose gearbox had been repaired over night. On the final tour MacLeod helped by some unwitting back markers got by the Cooper only to be pipped at the flag by the smallest of margins 0.31 of a second due to a last ditch charge from Luffield to the line by Milicevic. Hibberd rounded out the top three.
Race three, The Jack Sears Trophy for Under 2 Litre Touring Cars (U2TC) promised a great race with a bumper 48 car grid taking the start, with no less than 15 Lotus Cortina’s, 9 Alfa Romeo GTA’s and 11 BMW 1800’s as well as Abarth’s, Mini’s and an MG completing the field. Unfortunately it failed to deliver and was a fairly processional affair, the pack couldn’t live with the Lotus Cortina of Rob Hall and Andy Wolfe’s blistering pace out front, taking a lights to flag victory with a winning margin of 19 seconds to the second placed Lotus Cortina of the Anglo Greek pairing of Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield, Mike Jordan and Howard Redhouse made it an all Lotus Cortina podium. The first non Ford home fell to gorgeous Alfa Romeo Guilia Sprint GTA of David Fitzsimons and Alex Furiani. Roger Cope and Dan Cox up held Bavarian honours coming home 5th in their BMW1800TiSA.
The Sir Jack Brabham Trophy for HGPCA Pre 1966 rear engined Grand Prix Cars was next up. 39 beautiful early F1 cars including 17 Coopers and 11 Lotus made a fantastic sight charging into Copse for the first time, Enrico Spaggiari’s 1960 Cooper T53 leading the pack with Mark Piercy’s Lola Mk 4 second and John Clarks Cooper T51 following, Event Director Nick Wegley, out to play in another Cooper T51 was 4th with Ian Ashley’s rare LDS F1 clear of the three abreast charge for 6th which was won by John Chisholm’s nippy Lotus 18 followed by Rod Jolley’s Cooper T45/51, Andy Middlehurst’s immaculate ex Jim Clark Lotus 25 and John Harpers Cooper T51. With battle joined, Spaggiari looked imperious in the lead but was slowed with electrical gremlins coming home a disappointing 10th. This left John Chisholm and Mark Piercy who had a cracking dice for the win trading fastest laps before, on Lap 9 the Lola Mk4’s throttle cable snapped allowing Chisholm to cross the finish line 8 seconds ahead of the Cooper T51’s of Nick Wegley and John Clark.
Sunday’s race, for the John Cooper Trophy was won with ease by Chisholm and the Lotus 18, from Enrico Spaggiari taking a fine second place, the drives of the race undoubtedly came from John Harper and Rod Jolley who took their Cooper’s from the back row of the grid to third and forth places.
The Masters ‘Gentlemen Drivers’ GT and Sports endurance cars race for pre 1966 cars was a race of two halves, literally. With 10 laps gone and the pitstop window just open for the mandatory driver changes, Carlos Monteverde slammed his E Type Jaguar in to the new pit wall after losing control exiting Club while running a strong third. The race was immediately red flagged as Monteverde had to be cut from the wrecked Jaguar, thankfully the Brazilian, who was knocked out by the impact suffered a concussion and was released after spending the night in hospital. Running comfortably first and second at the time were Jon and Jason Minshaw’s E Type Jaguar’s. At the re-start a loss of fuel pressure meant that Martin Stretton, taking over from Jon Minshaw could not take part. With martin Melling in Jason Minshaw’s Jaguar fading to 10th, it was the Cobra of U2TC victors Hall and Wolfe who took the spoils, making an all Cobra trio with Chris Chiles and Paul Ingram and Ollie and Grahame Bryant. Neil Cunningham’s Jaguar E Type was 4th across the line, which turned into a 3rd place finish when the aggregate result was calculated.
Two of the feature races of weekend were the Grand Prix Masters (66-85) F1 cars Sir Jack Brabham Trophy on Saturday and Sunday’s Sir Jackie Stewart Trophy. A total of 28 Cosworth DFV engined classic F1 cars lined up on the grid ranging from an ex Jackie Stewart 1970 Matra MS80, which carried JYS’ autograph on its body work, driven by series founder Ron Maydon; The youngest car taking the start being the 1983 Theodore MN183, driven by none other than Richard Piper. But the interest came from Bill Coombs ex-Didier Pironi Tyrrell 009 and the Arrows A4 of Steve Hartley. The pair had locked out the front row of the grid and were the only two drivers to post sub 1 minute 42 second laps during qualifying.
Coombs and Hartley roared off into a battle for the lead which saw them fighting for position at almost every corner. Further down the pack Steve Allen driving the Arrows A1 missed his braking point at Abbey, went wide throwing up clouds of dust, unsighted Ian Simmonds arrived at the cloud and spun his ex Martin Brundle Tyrrell 012 causing chaos in the midfield. Lap 6 saw Hartley get ahead of Coombs, who was suffering with gear selection problems, Hartley stroked off the remaining laps finishing 11 seconds ahead of Rob Austin’s Durex sponsored Surtees TS19, with Bill Coombs coming home a further 2 seconds down the road, shaking his head in frustration. Starting back on row 9 of the grid, John Wilson in an ex- Michele Alboreto Tyrrell 011 made steady progress through the field to a fighting 4th place; Richard Eyre’s Williams FW08 got the better of Frank Sytner’s Ex-James Hunt Hesketh 308B for 5th. 7th fell to Steve Allen, next up Chris Perkins Surtees TS14 followed by Philip Hall in his Arrows A3 with Christophe D’Ansembourg sporting a Robert Kubica replica lid driving a Marlboro sponsored McLaren M26 rounding out the top 10. It’s not just about the result though, there was some rare and gorgeous cars taking part too. Sid Hoole fielded the flawed but still magnificent Lotus 80 resplendent in its original Martini/Essex/Tissot livery. Mike Wrigley raced a March 711 complete with STP sponsorship and raised front wing. The icing on the cake, for me at least, was Daryl Taylor who brought a Shadow DN1 in Embassy racing red and white with Graham Hill’s name on the cockpit sides out to play.
Race two was one of the best tussles of the weekend, Bill Coombs clearly disappointed with his 3rd place in the previous outing was out for the win, Steve Hartley wanted it too which lead to the two fastest cars embroiled in a titanic battle for most of the race. Hartley finished the first lap in third behind Coombs and Wilson. He dispatched the Surtees the following lap and was on the Tyrrell’s rear wing by the end of lap 4. With 2 laps to go Coombs went wide lapping Frank Lyons Osella FA1 opening the door for Hartley who made for the ever closing gap, Coombs was in no mood to give up the place and fairly but firmly closed the door, Hartley was left with no where to go and caught his front wing on the Tyrrell’s rear Avon, knocking it askew, game over. Coombs crossed the line to a win which earned the classic F3 racer, in his first year of Masters F1, with the drive of the weekend award and a brand new BRM wrist watch. Hartley came home second admitting afterwards “it was my own fault, I shouldn’t have been there”. 3rd was the Tyrrell of John Wilson who capitalised on his 4th place grid slot to demote the Surtees of Robert Austin a place. Three Williams were next, Eyre’s FW08 followed by Michael Fitzgerald’s FW07C and Roger Will’s FW05 who had a much better second race. Brilliant stuff.
The next race featured the HGPCA pre 1961 front engined Grand Prix cars doing battle for the Phil Hill Trophy and on Sunday for the Giuseppe Farina Trophy. Gary Pearson took the silverware with his ex-Jo Bonnier 1959 Dutch Grand Prix winning BRM P25. Pearson led home the ERA R3A of Mark Gillies and the Ferrari 246 Dino of Tony Smith on Saturday and Phil Walker’s Lotus 16 and Smith’s Dino on Sunday.
The HSCC Big Engined Touring cars had two outings, racing for the Alan Mann trophy The monster 42 car field of predominantly Detroit iron looked very impressive hooning down the Hanger Straight with no less 16 Ford Mustangs, 8 Ford Falcon’s a brace of Ford Galaxie’s, a Plymouth Barracuda and a Mercury Comet Cyclone amongst them. Both races didn’t disappoint. Dean Forward’s controversial Ford Mustang, which is developed way beyond the FIA remit, took the flag after a 6th row start, from Nick Whale and hard charging Leo Voyazides Ford Falcon’s. Race 2 the closing race of the weekend, saw the Voyazides Ford Falcon take the win from John young driving a Mustang and the Falcon of Westley Harding. Voyazides posted the fastest lap in his Falcon in both races.
The RAC Woodcote trophy for pre 1956 sports cars, saw another 42 car grid make the charge into Copse, an gruelling hour later Jaguars finished 1st and 2nd Gavin Pickering and Spencer Marsh 1st in their D Type and Will Arif and Alex Buncombe 2nd in a C Type, the Maserati A6 GCS of Lukas Huni and Gary Pearson completing the podium. The Story of the race, however, belonged to one man…Sir Stirling Moss.
Moss was making his racing comeback just four months after his fall and broken ankles, The 80 year old legend was on course for a class win when the OSCA FS372 he shared with Ian Nuthall, jammed itself into forth gear, the pair were classified five laps adrift.
Closing Saturday’s on track events the Italian Historic Car Cup was a bit of a damp squib to be honest, the entry list had suffered greatly due to the Le Mans classic and several entries were withdrawn. What should have been a highlight dusk race ended up a procession. With the Abarth Osella PA1 of Grant Tromans and Michael Cain lapping the entire field 3 times before the flag fell. The Cooper T61 Maserati of Michael O’Shea and Roberto Giordanelli 2nd, Marc Devis and Touring Car vet Anthony Reid brought their Maserati 250S home half a minute later.
Sunday and Race 15 the Betty Haig Trophy for the HSCC road Sports series saw the usual suspects in the top 3. James Paterson’s awesome Morgan Plus 8, rumbling to a dominant win followed by the Gulf Liveried Porsche 928 of Paul Anderson with Justin Murphy’s Ginetta G4 keeping Anderson honest in a fighting 3rd place.
Race 16, the World Sports Car Masters Denny Hulme Trophy race provided a close finish after an hour of frantic on track action from some proper racing cars including 15 Lola T70’s. It was Steve Tandy’s canary yellow T70 Mk3B continuation, taking the flag by a mere two seconds from the spectacularly driven T70 of Jon Minshaw and Martin Stretton, Marshals at Abbey commented on how green and yellow car was sliding out of the corner in a perfectly executed four wheel drift lap after lap. 3rd was, the Italian Historic Car Cup winning Cain/Tromans Osella PA1.
Race 18 the RAC Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars was won by Willie Green on his return to the track, five years after his Goodwood crash, driving a Ferrari 330 GTO. His Partner Carlo Vogele lost the lead to Stuart Graham’s Aston Martin DB4GT but kept the DB4 driver honest up to the driver changes, when the Aston Martin’s driver swap took longer took longer than the swap between Vogele and Green it handed the advantage to the beautiful Italian GTO which Green held on to, to the flag. Richard Attwood now in the Aston chased hard finishing half a minute ahead of the Ferrari 250GT SWB of Marc Devis and Jarrah Venables.
Race 20 of the meeting, the Sir Stirling Moss Trophy for 50’s sports cars featured some iconic machines from the heyday sports cars. The hour long enduro being won in some style by Ewan McIntyre in a lotus 15, second fell to Jon and Jason Minshaw’s stunningly prepared Maserati T61 ‘birdcage’ with third going to Gary Pearson and Andrew Garner Costin bodied Lister. Bobby Verdon-Roe was spectacular in the 1959 Le Mans winning Aston Martin DBR1, looking mighty going through the Maggotts, Becketts, Chapel complex; BV-R brought the DBR1 home fourth after a safety car period led to a single lap dash for the flag, Great stuff indeed.
This was my first classic, indeed it was the organiser’s first classic too, although given the time scale they put on a pretty decent show, the organisation was good the grids were filled and there was plenty to see and do. This years Classic was billed as celebrating 60 years of Formula One, while there was plenty of early F1 cars on show, the more modern era was not really catered for, 1984 being the cut off year. Where were the Ferrari’s, how can you celebrate F1 without the red cars?
It’s my guess that with a 15 year contract to stage the Classic the organisers want the meeting to rival an event such as Goodwood’s Festival of Speed or revival. I firmly believe it can be done; this is one of only a handful of events that have got the pull and the kudos to bring in the big names. I for one, thoroughly enjoyed my time at this years Classic, and will be a supporter of this event in years to come.