Bathed in sunshine, Castle Combe’s 12th Autumn Classic on 23 September was the best yet. A paddock jam packed with superb competition cars from 1951 to 1977 was a promising start, but a new Ferrari double-header, spirited racing across the card, a 75 years of Lotus celebration, an 18-piece big band, burlesque dancing troupe and grid walkabout to entertain the record spectator turnout helped it make the leap from themed race meeting to special event. Certainly, reaction from all sides has reinforced the decision to expand the Autumn Classic into a two-day spectacular on September 21-22 next year. Marcus Pye reports…
Period Formula Junior racer and Combe F5000 ace Howden Ganley was among a band of star driver invitees from the circuit’s past and, wearing his Formula Junior Historic Racing Association president’s hat, the amiable Kiwi was interviewed on its grid pre-race. Fresh from victory at the Goodwood Revival and broadening his CV with more wins at Lime Rock Park in the USA, Howden’s protégé Horatio Fitz-Simon, 23, seized pole for his debut race at the venue.
Automobiles Historiques’ GT & Sports Car Cup provided an entertaining 90 minutes for 31 teams and the spectating throng. Three AC Cobras headed the grid, with series debutant Alex Thistlethwayte on pole in his newly-acquired ex-Leo Voyazides example, but Chris Chiles and father Chris Sr made history as the first team to score a repeat victory on the GTSCC’s sixth visit to the Wiltshire circuit, opened in 1950.
The HSCC Griffiths Haig Trophy 1950s’ sports car field, retracing the ‘66 race that spawned the club, spanned Richard Wilson’s magnificent ex-Carroll Shelby/Jim Hall Maserati 250S to Jeff Moyes’ Porsche 356A with interesting American club racing history in specialist Robert Overby’s hands.
For a full report of these and other races, see our November 2023 issue….
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