The weather Gods threw every combination of unseasonal weather at the five Motor Racing Legends grids featured at last weekend’s Classic at Silverstone, yet the two hundred and eighty drivers who participated in our races came out the heroes, demonstrating stunning driving in the challenging conditions.
As Friday morning qualifying progressed, the clouds rolled in and the tone was set for the weekend; however heavy showers and sullen skies did nothing to detract from the on-track show which featured record breaking grids and heroic performances.
Saturday evening’s headline event – the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy and Stirling Moss Trophy race saw one of the biggest ever grids to feature at a Classic Silverstone event, 58 cars took the start and raced into the dusk. Martin O’Connell put on an inspired performance dancing Sandy Watson’s 1957 Lotus XI through the rain pulling away a 7.06 second lead to Roger Will’s later and larger capacity Lotus XV. It’s the first time in the Stirling Moss Trophy’s history that a Lotus XI has outwitted the Lotus XVs let alone the rest of the howling pack! In the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy, the top three cars slithered across the line a mere nine-tenths of a second apart, the Gregor Fisken and Martin Stretton HWM Jaguar nosing ahead of the Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney Edwards Cooper T38. The Woodcote podium was completed by another HWM, that of Martin Hunt and Mike Grant Peterkin.
Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards also visited the podium with their win in the BRDC 500 race for Pre-War Sports Cars in their Frazer Nash TT Rep from Michael Birch’s Talbot Team Car and Clive Morley’s hard-charging 3/4½ Bentley, in the only dry race of the weekend.
The Royal Automobile Club Historic Tourist Trophy for Pre ’63 GT was won by Lukas Halusa in the indomitable Ferrari Breadvan who won a dog fight to the line against the Huffaker Jaguar E-type of James Cottingham and Harvey Stanley ahead of third placed Gregor Fisken and Chris Ward Jaguar E-type. The top five were covered by just 8 seconds after 50 minutes of a very entertaining race.
The Assembly Area for the Motor Racing Legends Historic Touring Car Challenge featuring the Tony Dron Trophy, Sixties Touring Car Challenge and U2TC race was a frenzy of activity as incoming rain just before the race saw most teams rushing to change to wet tyres. This proved to be the correct choice as the intensity of the rain increased. Paul Mensley was flying in his Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 somehow keeping ahead of Simon Garrad’s four-wheel-drive Nissan Skyline in difficult conditions until co-driver Matt Ellis had to retire the car with an electrical issue, allowing the then-dominant duo of Mark Wright and Dave Coyne to take the win in the Motocraft Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500. Steve Dance was over the moon to have split the RS500 podium with his second place in his elder statesmen Ford Capri to Craig Davies and Steve Soper in their Brooklyn Shell RS500. Marcus Jewell and Ben Clucas found the pace they had been looking for so far this season with their 1980 Ford Capri to win the Tony Dron Trophy to Jim Morris and Tom Shephard in their recently restored Volkswagen Scirocco. Graham Churchill defied the difficult conditions to win the U2TC in his Mini Cooper S.
The finale race for Motor Racing Legends on Sunday was the celebration 60th Anniversary E-type Challenge Race which sported a huge grid of big cats, all having to claw their way through rivers of water on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit as the rain yet again intensified. The pole sitting car of Jonathan Hughes and Nigel Greensall slipped down the order as an epic battle raged between Ben Mitchell and Danny Winstanley with Gary Pearson and Miles Griffiths always in the mix. But with twelve minutes still to run, the race was stopped on safety grounds due to the worsening conditions. With the on-track leaders yet to pit, despite the pit window having already closed, confusion reigned as to who had actually won. But following a thorough dissection of the rule book, Jon Minshaw was declared the winner.
The 2021 Classic will certainly be remembered as an epic event!
Race results are now available to view here