It’s generally a sign of a good weekend when Monday morning arrives and you find yourself struggling to summon up the energy to get out of bed. The daunting prospect of having to trundle your way through the foothills of averageness once again, counting down the days until the next exciting occasion comes along and lifts you out of humdrum.
A similar thought process went through my mind earlier on this week, after spending a thoroughly enjoyable weekend at this year’s Silverstone Classic event. Three days gorging on an impressive roster of great marques and machinery from yesteryear, all racing around the Home of British Motor Racing.
This year’s Classic featured 800 legendary cars spanning seven decades of motor racing heritage and provided some evocative entertainment for the large crowds who were in attendance (up 10% to 73,000 this year). The highlight of the weekend being the three classic F1 races which commemorated the 60th anniversary of the first World Championship Grand Prix held at Silverstone in 1950.
The special birthday celebrations pitted more than 120 of the world’s most iconic and famous F1 cars into real racing action. None of this timid, touchy-feely, racing you will see at other historic events. Proper racing. Cars being driven in anger and not out of fear of possibly incurring a hefty repair bill.
Each of the grids showcased the development of the sport, with 75-year-old Alfa Romeos and ERAs navigating their way around Copse at full opposite lock, rear engined BRMs and Lotuses going wheel to wheel in the pre-1966 event, and fans of latter day Formula 1 drooling upon sight of iconic cars like the Williams FW07 and Lotus 87, all fighting for glory.
This year’s event also marked the comeback of Sir Stirling Moss – just 20 weeks after falling three storeys down a lift shaft – who drove his OSCA sports car in Saturday’s RAC Woodcote Trophy race, which featured a myriad of rare and valuable vehicles worth almost £70m. Unfortunately Moss was forced to pull up with ten minutes to go due to a stuck gear, leaving musician Chris Rea to take the class win instead.
Equally unforgettable was Sunday’s World Sports Car Masters (Le Mans car) race. The likes of Red Bull Racing’s design guru Adrian Newey and Le Mans racer Chris Buncombe taking on the hordes of rumbling Lola T70s in their Ford GT40s was fantastic to watch. Hurtling down the Hangar Straight at a blistering pace, weaving in and out for position. A sensational spectacle, matched by a stellar drive by Steve Tandy who took the outright win.
Other track highlights over the three days included the evening race for the Italian Historic Car Cup, touring car action courtesy of the Masters Mini series, the U2TC series and the HSCC ‘Big Beasts’ – featuring American V8 racers alongside big-engined Jaguar and Mercedes saloons – all were a nostalgic treat.
Which sums up this year’s Silverstone Classic rather nicely. It is quite possibly the biggest UK club-race meeting of the year. Where else can you see such a collection of mouthwatering cars, all driven to the limit? Where else can you see acres of working paddocks and over 5,000 classic car owners on their social outing of the season?
As historic events go, Silverstone Classic is easily one of the best that I have attended and should find pride of place on every racing enthusiast’s calendar. Stepping foot through the circuit’s gates each day was like walking through a time portal. But unlike, say, Gary Sparrow in 90s sitcom ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’, I got my kicks from being able to get up close to the cars that have made the headlines in years gone by, rather than frolicking with some lady from fifty years ago.
A provisional date of 22nd to 24th July has been set aside for next year’s Silverstone Classic, so make a note in your diaries, or whatever fangled electronic devices some of you modern folk use these days.