A Classic Silverstone Weekend

How was your weekend? Mine was one of the best so allow me to tell you more. It all started after I was lucky enough to win two Sunday tickets for the Silverstone Classic in an IMI draw. I then immediately rounded up two friends, we bought extra Saturday tickets, booked a hotel for the night and were all set. There was an amazing race card that ranged from saloon cars to former Le Mans cars. Two WW2 Spitfires appeared on a number of occasions showing off both the capability of the aircraft and the skill of their pilots. There was even a great line up of live music set for the Saturday evening that included the Hollies (old readers will remember them!). Sadly, for us three ‘oldies’, there was a weather related incident and we were red-flagged, so the music was not to be…

There were car clubs displaying a huge range of vehicles from the very old to the very new. Stalls were selling everything you could imagine, and there were even rides on Routemaster buses if that was your thing. There were also more Porches than I have ever seen and they even got to drive the track (slowly) on the Sunday. For us keen race fans however, it was all about the action on the track so we settled into grandstand seats at the ‘Village’ and we were ready for a great day of racing – and we were not disappointed. I should mention that this grandstand was not covered – a fact that becomes relevant later. ‘Village’ corner is the first serious turn for cars after starting from the grid on International Straight and going through Abbey and Farm Curve.

Figure 1 Where else could you see a Cooper T45, a Routemaster bus and an Aston Martin DBR4?

The first race we watched on Saturday was the ‘FIA Masters Historic Formula 1’. This included cars such as the Hesketh 308E, Brabham BT49C, Tyrell 012 and lots more amazing F1 classics – it was very nostalgic. The value of some of these cars is enormous but the way some of them are driven you wouldn’t think so – but that is what real racers do. The race was won by Michael Lyons (GBR) in a RAM Williams FW07. He also did the fastest lap in a time of 1:53.861 and then repeated both of these achievements in the re-run of the race on the Sunday.

My favourite race on the Saturday was the Trans-Atlantic Touring Car Trophy (Masters Pre 66 TC), which was the next one up. They were racing in different categories but watching the brave (crazy?) Mini Cooper drivers undercut cars like Ford Mustangs and Ford Lotus Cortinas on the Village corner was great fun. They lost out again on the longer straights but it didn’t matter.

The track action continued with Pre 61 GP cars, Historic Sports cars and then F2 cars versus F5000s; Michael Lyons won on the Saturday and Sunday in both F2 vs. F5000 races too, this time in a Lola 400.

Figure 2 Minis making the most of their cornering ability at Village

After the Super Touring Car Trophy race it was time for the Jim Clark Trophy for HGPCA Pre 66 Grand Prix Cars. The race started cleanly and the cars came round past Village bunched up but somehow they all got through. There were some great overtakes on the corner and then a spot of rain fell. And then a few more drops, so we put our waterproofs on. Then the heavens opened and we could hardly see the cars – the drivers later reported that they couldn’t either – which was a little more worrying. The race was stopped on lap 6 with Jason Minshaw (GBR) in a Brabham BT4 leading. In the meantime we ran for cover but in that area there was little or none available – so for us the race was over, because… well let’s just leave it that our ‘full-wet gear’ kept us dry under the waterproof jacket but not anywhere else! As a result, we gave in and went back to the hotel. Some lucky enough to find cover may have been able to stay and hear the Hollies sing ‘All I Need is the Air that I Breathe’ but there was too much water in the air for us!

Figure 3 FIA Masters Historic Formula One race where a JPS Lotus is just about to get past a Tyrrell

On Sunday the weather was much better and this meant we got our chance to set a PB lap time.

The race card was similar to Saturday so just as exciting. We watched from several different parts of the track this time but ended up back at the Village as, notwithstanding roofing issues, it is a great vantage point. The day started with Historic Formula Ford, then Pre 56 Sports cars and repeats of previous races as run on Saturday. There were two highlights for me on Sunday. The first was the Group C Endurance race, which is effectively made up of previous Le Mans cars. This was won by late entrant French driver Nicolas Minassian in a Jaguar XJR14 (in Silk Cut livery) with a fastest lap time of 1:46.712, which was over seven seconds faster than the next nearest. Watching this car accelerate away from Aintree corner was amazing, and then when the turbos cut in it was even better!

The second highlight was watching Jackie Oliver (former British F1 driver) and Gary Pearson win the RAC Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars (Pre 63 GT) in a car number 60, a yellow Ferrari 250 SWB. There was frustration too in this race for Jakon Holstein in car number 89, a Ginetta G4, as he spun off right in front of us in Copse corner on the second lap. His co-driver Tue Hodal didn’t even get a drive. They had travelled all the way from Denmark for the race so I hope they enjoyed watching the other races as much as we did!

Figure 4 Silverstone marshals as efficient as ever but this frustrated driver had the be towed out

Overall this was an amazing weekend topped off nicely as, after driving home, I watched a recording of Lewis Hamilton winning the 2013 Hungarian GP.

By the way, our personal best (PB) lap was achieved on the Sunday where we set a time of 1:43 (that’s one hour forty three minutes walking round the outside of the track).

More information and full results of all the races are available from: www.silverstoneclassic.com.

Tom Denton

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