3 days of pure historic and classic motorsport heaven
Spanning 3 days in the month of July each year, the vast area that is Silverstone Circuit plays host to one of, if not the premier classic motoring event of its kind in Europe. Both pit lanes and garages, the huge Silverstone Wing and the older International pits, are fully utilised to accommodate an orgasmic array of racing hardware. All is on full public display but these are not showrooms or sanitised static displays, they are working garages with vehicles being attended to by crews and individuals in readiness for their turn to race on the full 3.661 mi / 5.891 km circuit. Indeed, the beasts are in the habitat for which they are intended.
Races comprise of several categories each of Grand Prix and Formula 1, lesser Formulas, Touring and GT cars, Sports cars and Endurance cars. In between these events are on track displays by owners of classic cars from the various car clubs that are parked up on the expanse of the infield. All of this runs like clockwork to a very tight timetable under the guidance of hundreds of marshals, attendants and organisers. Indeed, the event is a wonder of skilfully executed logistics.
My photos here give a glimpse of what can be seen and a taster of the atmosphere. If you can then I recommend you should go and see for yourself.
The paddock area behind the Silverstone Wing is a great place to view vehicles as they are readied for a race. It is a theatre of drivers and crew with cars marshalled into position and finally, when the order is given, a roar of engines as they are fired up and the vehicles file out onto the track.
A Family affair
As is often the case with classic motoring events there is an easy atmosphere here amongst those taking part. In part, this may well be down to the presence of many friends, family and partners as these next two images illustrate.
The first image shows a father and son team of Sander and Niek van Gils. They had made the journey from Holland to compete with their 1965 Lotus Elan in the International Trophy for Classic GT Cars (pre ’66). They said the competition is much stronger here in the UK than back home, partly due to the greater number of participants but also because there are more cars fielded by professional support teams. The image here shows them before their last race in which they were not expecting a great result. This was because in an earlier time on track there was contact with another car which they believed had knocked the chassis out of alignment, negatively affecting the handling of the car.
The second image is at the end of the last day after all activities had finished. The time around the garages and paddock became very relaxed as participants gradually “broke camp” and friends and family members hung around to catch up and take in the last moments of the event.
Cooper T43 1957
I have to bring your attention about the vehicle in the next photo. It represents a milestone in the development of open wheeled race cars and is arguably the forerunner of those used in today’s F1. Low profile slippery body, engine at the rear and lightweight. No fancy aero at this stage, just mechanical grip and on those tyres! Prior to this cars were less streamlined, heavier and with bigger engines positioned at the front.
A win by Stirling Moss in a T43 in the 1958 Argentinean GP made such an impact that it completely changed the whole philosophy on how to design a race car and had a profound impact on the design of the vehicles that followed.