The Magazine

Previews of upcoming events, Race & Rally Reports, News, Reviews, Letters and Regulation Information from Historic Motor Racing News.

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The Magazine

With the all-clear for the UK to go back to (the new) normal from 21st June according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘Road Map’, the Classic at Silverstone will finally be celebrating its 30th birthday, looking back over the years with a ‘greatest hits’ agenda.  Depending as it does on huge crowds, club gatherings, rock concerts and other activities besides racing, Nick Wigley and his team at Goose Live Events are going full steam ahead in the firm belief that the successful vaccination programme in the UK will mean an end to major restrictions there, and they are therefore planning something as big and spectacular as ever.   “Interestingly, the public seems to share our optimism,” commented Wigley, “immediately after Johnson’s announcement, there was a massive spike in ticket sales, and these still remain very strong.”  Clearly the British public is looking forward to getting out and about.

Living up to the anniversary billing, a number of the event’s signature races have already been confirmed – these include Masters’ Historic Formula One, the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars, Formula Junior, Masters Historic Sportscars and the Historic Touring Car Challenge, and more lately a further six favourites from previous editions have been added to the bill.  Pre-war cars are back stronger than ever, and The Historic Grand Prix Cars Association, present at the Classic through all its iterations over the last 30 years, have confirmed their participation this year too. 

Conveniently another Mini anniversary is upon us this year, and so is 2021 the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar E-type, so both will be back on the Silverstone Grand Prix track for parades and one-marque races.

In addition, the busy programme will include the HSCC’s Historic Formula 2 series that proved to be such a big hit in 2019 and produced what is probably a record number of cars in an F2 race, with 56 starters, the MRL Stirling Moss and Woodcote Trophies, and the Masters’ newest grid, the Endurance Legends, which provides the youngest cars at the event.  New to the event will be the HSCC’s re-launched Thundersports series, previously known as Pre 80 Endurance, for cars up to 1979.  This adds up to 16 separate race grids, some with two races over the 30 July-1 August weekend.

Like all organisers, especially those with an international profile, Peter Auto has been struggling to maintain a viable racing calendar through all the various and unpredictable restrictions imposed by different governments and governing bodies.  First to be postponed was the Dix Mille Tours du Castellet, which moved from March to early May, a date made available by the postponement of the Tour Auto, which went from April to late August-early September (see our rally section this issue).  With Belgium running to different rules than France, the next victim has been the Spa Classic.  Due to run on 22-24 May, the announcement of its cancellation was announced on 11 March.  To compensate the drivers and give them sufficient track time, both the Dix Mille Tours meeting and the GP de l’Age d’Or meeting at Dijon in June will feature extended hours on their track permits, so drivers at both meetings will get longer practices and races, including extended night races.  The Group C cars, scheduled to run at Spa, are now invited to race at Dijon instead, their first visit there in four years.  In addition, Peter Auto has added a further meeting to its calendar, at Nogaro on 23-25 July, and the venue of the September Monza meeting, has shifted to Vallelunga.  All in all it’s quite a jigsaw, except in this puzzle the final picture keeps changing.

The Dix Mille Tours and the GP de l’Age d’Or mee ngs will feature track hours that extend into the night

In keeping with the calendar initially announced, the French Historic Circuits Championship, known as the Historic Tour, will kick off on 9-11 April at the Albi circuit, confirmed official championship promoter HVM Racing.

“With the FFSA and our series coordinators, we have been struggling for a year now to maintain all the rounds of the French Championship in the face of the difficulties caused by the current pandemic.  More than ever, our primary goal is to allow professionals to continue their activity, and our entrants to continue to practice their sport and satisfy their passion,” pronounced HVM Racing boss Laurent Vallery-Masson.  “The timetable has been arranged in such a way as to respect the current 6pm curfew, but it is obvious that that will change if the curfew is no longer in force on the dates of the meeting.”

Apart from a reduction of five minutes to the various qualifying sessions, the application of the curfew essentially led to postponing the first round of the 200kms of the Historic Tour.  This was a new initiative designed to give drivers more track time with a 90-minute Saturday night allcomers race for anyone driving a GT, Touring or prototype in one of the other series at the meeting.  For the rest, the event, which must be organised behind closed doors, will maintain the 21 championship races as planned.

Although the show’s organisers took the precaution of scheduling the event in June, instead of on its usual February date, in order to avoid the worst of the pandemic restrictions, Retromobile has had to be cancelled for the second year running.  It was already problematic for many of the show’s exhibitors, who rely on the giant Paris exhibition and the crowds that it attracts to reveal new products or to announce plans for the new season, especially the many race and rally organisers that regularly attend.   By June they would already be well into their season, with nothing to announce, and busy with other things.  But the resurgence of COVID in France, and travel restrictions changing in unpredictable ways, the organisers decided the outlook was too uncertain to stage a major exhibition, the sole purpose of which is to draw in large numbers of exhibitors and visitors.

Following the disappointment of last year, and still wanting to give their drivers some endurance racing in the meantime, V de V scheduled a six-hour enduro at Valencia (see our March 2021 issue) on 16-17 April.  But alas, that too had to be cancelled due to the situation in Spain and border restrictions.  Closer to home, they have now set up a six-hour race at Magny-Cours on 14-16 May for those teams who want to prepare for the 24-hour race in November (the regulations and eligibility are identical), and for those who just want to have some fun.  See vdev.fr for details and entry for details and entry forms.

Last year the V de V Organisation had particularly bad luck in the timing of their Deux Tours d’Horloge event.  Having arranged for it to run after a summer full of racing, the second lockdown in France came just days before the start of the event, which had to be cancelled.  It has now been scheduled to run on 5-7 November 2021.

This 24-hour race for historic cars has a long pedigree.  It first ran in 1992 when sceptical voices thought it was a mad idea to run old cars, often with older drivers and mechanics, for 24 hours.  The first event attracted 39 entries and after that, numbers continued to increase over the next few years.  In a classical endurance race mix, gentlemen drivers and professional pilots shared the wheels of GT, Touring and Sports Prototype cars.  Amongst the teams were endurance stars, such as Gérard Larrousse, Henri Leconte, Luc Alphand and many other personalities from the sports’ world.  It finally ran for the last time in 2014. 

“Now is the right time to relaunch the Deux Tours,” commented Eric Van de Vyver.  “I can see many competitors who are waiting to be able to share this great adventure again.  The spirit that has always guided this event remains,” he said.  “With all the participants, we will above all be there to experience 24 hours of happiness and good humour.”

Supporting the main event will be a three-hour sports regularity test - Les 100 Tours du Castellet - open to cars aged 25 or over, which will take place on November 5 and 6.

The GT & Sports Car Cup celebrates not only its own 15th anniversary this year, but it will also add to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Jaguar E-type with a dedicated class for the much-loved and highly successful British sports car at its first race of the season on May 23.  A regular fixture for the series for many years, the HSCC’s International Trophy event, run on Silverstone’s 3.66-mile Grand Prix circuit, is very popular with the GT&SCC drivers and always attracts a strong entry.

The Jaguar Lightweight E-type rst ran at Silverstone in 1963, two years a er the model was ini ally launched Photo Courtesy Jaguar

After the UK government’s announcement on 22 February that spectators would only be allowed in limited numbers at sporting events after 17 May, Goodwood has taken the decision to postpone its 15-16 May Members’ Meeting to the autumn.  In the hopes that they will be able to welcome a large number of spectators later in the year, Goodwood has announced a new date of 16-17 October.

The Duke of Richmond said, “We welcome the roadmap from the government and, whilst we're disappointed that we won’t be able to host the 78th Members’ Meeting in May, we're pleased that we can safely reschedule it to later in the year.”

The Masters have been expanding into America for some years now, but this year marks a further push, with a new Masters-run meeting at Laguna Seca on 15-16 May, and a new series, Formula Atlantic Plus, for Formula Atlantic, Formula Super Vee and Formula 2 cars from the pre-1986 era.   Having already run some of their US grids at Sebring in March, in all, they are offering their US drivers the opportunity to race at nine different race meetings this year, four of them in collaboration with David Hinton and the HSR organisation, with whom they enjoy ever-closer ties.

The continued uncertainty due to COVID, has resulted in the postponement of the Bosch Hockenheim Historic race meeting, originally scheduled for 7-9 May, and now with a provisional date of 27-29 August.  With Formula Junior, HSCC Formula 2, the HGPCA historic Grand Prix cars, Youngtimers and the first Group C race of the season amongst the races on the programme, the meeting promised a lot of variety and quality on the grids.  Sadly, the HGPCA cannot fit the new date into its crowded calendar, but it is hoped that all the other  grids will be present on the new date.

The Group C race, organised by Zoe Copas, is to be known as the Group C Super Cup, and drivers have shown a high level of interest in what for many will be their first outing since 2019.  The last time these cars raced at Hockenheim was in the 1000kms WEC race in July of 1985.  With encouragement from sponsors, more Super Cup races for next season are being planned. 

In addition to the more regular Group C teams, there will be a meeting of old friends who raced these cars back in 1985.   Amongst the special guest drivers will be Frank Jelinski, Stanley Dickens and John Graham, who raced in the 1985 Le Mans 24hrs, with Frank and John driving the C2 Labatt Gebhardt JC853 and Stanley the C2 Strandell 85.  Frank had been a regular driver of Gebhardt cars since 1984 and for the 1985 1000kms  at Spa, all three shared the Team Labatt Gebhardt JC853, coming in 12th overall.  The trio will be reunited with their period Gebhardt cars for the first time since 1987.  For entry information see www.groupcsupercup.com.

Hanging over all of this, and the rest of the racing and rally season, are the continuing changes in travel restrictions from county to country.  Hopefully by August all of these will have been lifted