The Silverstone Classic continues to grow each year and expand its activities, making it the largest race meeting ever staged in International motor racing history. With 1104 race entries and more than 8000 classic cars on show, the meeting certainly lived up to its claim of the World’s biggest Classic Racing festival.
This year to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Jaguar E-Type, over 1000 E-Type Jaguars attended the meeting on the Saturday. During the lunch break they had a track parade with over 800 E-Types taking to the circuit, which should be a World record. Running 2 to 4 cars wide across the circuit, they stretched all the way round the track. Standing at the new Arena loop I could see cars joining the circuit at Abbey, whilst at the same time behind me, cars were streaming through Becketts and down the Hanger straight. Cars had come from all across the world to take part and they filled the entire length of the new Grand Prix circuit.
The race program for this 21st Silverstone Classic was very impressive, with over 1000 drivers competing in more than 800 cars in 22 races over the weekend. Races ranged from Grand Prix cars between 1966 and 1985, Group C Sports cars, World Sports Cars Masters, GT cars from before 1961, saloon cars , Formula Junior, front engined Grand Prix cars, the list went on to cover all forms of circuit racing covering over 60 years of motorsport history.
Then there were the car club displays that filled every inch of the interior of the circuit with over 8000 cars on display. Add a rally circuit, street rod drag racing, vintage Kart displays and even lawn mower racing and you still had not covered all the entertainment available! There were air displays on Saturday and Sunday plus a parachute drop by the Red Devils display team on Friday, and musical concerts each evening or afternoon. There may have been even more things that we missed.
The racing featured plenty of action. One of the best races was the Group C race held at dusk on Saturday evening. With glowing red brake disks and headlights cutting through the dusk, the sports cars made quite a sight round Silverstone. After an exciting battle for the lead, victory finally went to Katsu Kobota in the Nissan R90C just ahead of Alex Buncombe in the Jaguar XJR9. Their race on Sunday was head in glorious sunshine and saw a flag to flag victory for the very distinctive sounding Mercedes C11 driven by Gareth Evans and Bob Berridge.
A special sight in the Grand Prix Masters race was the race debut of the 6 wheeled March 2-4-0 driven by Jeremy Smith. The car was built over 30 years ago and had never been raced before. A 2-4-0 had been used by Roy Lane for Hill climbing several years ago. With 4 rear wheels, the car had a few problems and didn’t manage to finish either race, but made quite a sight as it raced quite competitively with similar aged cars. Both races were dominated by Andy Meyrick at the wheel of his March 761.
Another treat was the sight of four Ferrari 512 sports cars in the Italian Historic Car Cup race. Not surprisingly the yellow Ferrari 512M of Nathan Kinch dominated the race to take an easy victory, but the entry also showed a wide variety of classic Italian designs with cars from Ferrari, Maserati, Abarth and Alfa Romeo. With the longer circuit layout being able to start more cars in each race, the GT & Sports Car Cup entry was also added to this race, introducing Jaguar E-Types and AC Cobras in to the mix.
The E-Type Challenge race also saw a very large grid of 52 Jaguar E-Types take the start line for races on Saturday and Sunday. Jon Minshaw was dominant in both races, lifting the inside front wheel every lap at the Loop.
With perfect weather for all the races, the weekend was a major success with over 80,000 spectators enjoying the Worlds biggest classic racing festival. Roll on 2012.
By Simon & Janet Wright.