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

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Contents October Issue:  Latest News - Bits & Pieces - Rally News - Tour Auto - Rally Asturias - Scottish Malts - VSCC Mallory Park - Seven Questions with Jean Ragnotti - Monterey Motorsport Reunion - Oulton Park Gold Cup - French Championships, Historic Tour Val de Vienne - Hockenheim Historic - Vallelunga Classic - Goodwood Revival (four pages form Marcus Pye) - Limonest Hillclimb

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Bits and Pieces

Over the years, starting back in the ‘70s, there have been many “almost anything goes” categories for saloon and sports cars - Super Saloons, Thunder Saloons and Modsports etc., groups that led to the creation of such cars as Gerry Marshall’s Chevy V-8 “Big Bertha” and Mick Hill’s VW Beetle bodied F5000 car.

Fortunately, the Classic Sports Car Club revived such racing back in 2011 and, after a couple of trial events in 2012, introduced a class for Racing Special Saloons and Modsports, together with the other “Classic” categories run at their race meetings.  The group caters for cars that could have raced up to the end of 1993 with separate classes for those running period correct engines and those with more modern engines.

For the 2021 season, a 13-race programme at six circuits was planned with the latest rounds at the Brands Hatch August Bank Holiday meeting.  Originally a CSCC two-day affair on the Indy circuit, some COVID rescheduling saw the circuit taken over by a round of the World GT Championship on the full Grand Prix circuit on that weekend.  Unusually for a modern meeting, all the CSCC’s categories were retained to provide the supporting races, which attracted large entries for all categories given the opportunity to race on the full GP circuit.  

Photo Eric Sawyer

A total of 40 cars turned out for Sunday morning’s practice with 36 eventually taking the start.  Ironically the change of circumstances had a sting in the tale.  Competitors were scheduled to have two 20-minute races but, following serious barrier damage caused during the first World GT race that led to a 90-minute delay, the first of their races was cancelled.  

Their one race of the weekend proved to be a four-car battle for the win.  Initially led by Brands specialist Rod Birley with his BMW E36 before Wayne Crabtree took over in his Ford Escort RS200, the MG Modsports of Chris Southcott moved into second.  Sam Wilson’s Aston Martin V8 Vantage then passed Birley on the main straight for third spot.  Crabtree collided with a backmarker approaching Stirlings on the penultimate lap, which eliminated the Escort, and Wilson also moved past Southcott to assume the lead and victory. The Peugeot 309 GTI of Danny Morris, which had been running in third, then inherited second place when Southcott’s MG blew it’s engine on the final lap, leaving poleman Birley to claim the final podium spot.

Major Exhibition at Autoworld Brussels

Inaugurated on 12th August 1921, the first event at the Spa Francorchamps race circuit was somewhat of a disappointment, with only one car turning up.  Only a few motorcycle races were held that year, and a year later, the first race for cars took place when the Grand Prix of the RACB was run over a distance of 600 kilometres.  It was won by a Belgian, Baron de Tornaco, at the wheel of an Impéria-Abadal shod with Englebert tyres, causing the “L’Automobile Belge” to proclaim, “A triple Belgian victory!”, in its issue dated 20th August 1922.  However, that was the only positive part of the coverage, as the article went on to complain that none of the other major automotive makes, such as Ballot, Peugeot, Sunbeam, Fiat or Bugatti, had been present, and not even the top Belgian manufacturers, such as Minerva, Nagant and Excelsior, sent cars.  In fact, there were a mere 12 cars at the start and three at the finish.  A regulation that excluded numerous car categories and the fact that many manufacturers did not consider the event to be of enough importance were cited as the reasons for such a feeble turnout.

Baron de Tornaco, winner of the the 1922 Belgian Grand Prix in a Belgian-built Impéria-Abadal. His was one of only three cars to finish the 600km race

The track’s initial layout was comprised of three sections of open road, roughly forming a triangle.  With just under 15km, the circuit was exceptionally long and followed the natural relief, which entailed exciting climbs and descents, such as the Descente de Masta.  For its time it was rather fast.  It obviously included its share of sharp bends, such as la Source and Stavelot, but also long straights and fast curves.  This combination proved to be fatal for many drivers, and in 1970, the last Grand Prix was held on the original circuit.  The lap record on the old circuit, set in 1973 by Henri Pescarolo with his Matra 670B, in 3min 13.3sec, at an average of 262.41km/h, was now set in stone.

If it wanted to retain its international status, the circuit needed to become shorter and safer.  The new circuit was inaugurated in 1979.  Its length was 6.9kms, but still retained a section of open road.  It was only in 2003 that it became a permanent circuit, 7.004km in length.

While the circuit management has expressed a desire to mark the anniversary with some special events, COVID has kept them from planning anything truly big, however in nearby Brussels, Autoworld will be paying tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Belgian track with a major exhibition of cars and motorbikes that have played a role in the circuit’s history.  The museum has opted to transform the “Sport & Competition” and “Design Story” zones on the first floor into a large paddock where visitors will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history of the Ardennes circuit, which they count to be, “the greatest circuit in the world”.  The exhibition runs from 3 September to 28 November, so those going to the Spa Six Hours might take the opportunity to stop by for a visit.

Brands Hatch was the location of Festival Italia on August 15, celebrating a wide spectrum of motorsport, people and virtually anything else Italian.  Peter Collins Reports…

Perhaps one of the most remarkable features was to be found in the static display of Abarths from Tony Castle-Miller’s emporium.  On show in public for the first time in over 50 years and only just completed was the famous ex-Bob Burnard Abarth Simca Due Mila RB 38, which enjoyed much success in early to mid-1960s UK GT sportscar racing.  Not quite ready to run as yet, it headed up a row of over a dozen examples of Carlo Abarth’s expertise over the years.  Some of these cars took to the track for a demonstration during the lunch break.

Chris Whelan in the ex-Dooley and ex-BTCC Alfasud

The competitive on-track action took place courtesy of the various UK Ferrari and Alfa Romeo championships, both classic and modern.

The two Pirelli Ferrari Formula Classic races were both won at a canter by Wayne Marrs in his Ferrari F355 Challenge and the same mounts were used by Tim Walker and Tristan Simpson in finishing second and third in race one.  The order was changed in the second race when Gary Culver took second with his Ferrari 328 GTB.

 James Colburn took a lights to falg HRDC Alfa Challenge win in his Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT

The HRDC race for the Classic Alfa Challenge was also an unopposed, lights to flag drive, this time for James Colburn in his fast Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT.  He was followed in by Ben Colburn who was at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo 1750 Berlina with the 75 of James Wright in third.  With a superb entry of around 30 cars and a race around the Indy Circuit for 30 minutes the track was very busy at all times, with drivers reckoning on getting dizzy by the finish!  Gavin Watson was driving the wheels off his venerable ex-Dooley Giulietta Ti and Chris Whelan was finding plenty of speed from his, also ex-Dooley and ex-BTCC, Alfasud.  

With a live performance of Nessun Dorma just prior to the first race, the large crowd enjoyed a great Italian day out.

According to FIVA (Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens) some of the most iconic vehicles in history could be lost to the future unless new blood is introduced to the restoration industry.  That is the main conclusion reached at a FIVA-supported international symposium in Bucharest that took place in July, entitled ‘Restoration – Art or Science?’

Tiddo Bresters Photo Dragos Savu courtesy Retromobil Club Romania

FIVA president Tiddo Bresters describes it as an “existential challenge” for the future of classic motoring.  “This is one of FIVA’s primary objectives – to foster the preservation of historic vehicles and pass them on in working condition to future generations.  To this end, a mature restoration industry is as important as it is for other areas of cultural heritage, such as paintings and historic buildings”

A succession of world authorities addressed the symposium hosted by the Retromobil Club Romania.  Stéphane Guarato and Arthur Morault run the Conservatoire National des Véhicules Anciens near Paris, where students gain experience in basic restoration techniques before going on to specialist training.  They say a lack of skilled labour means demand is outstripping supply.  Part of the problem is the increasing gap between the skills needed for modern car repairs and those needed for historic restoration.  Plus it’s difficult to attract young people to the industry.  Half their current 150 students are around 60 years old.

A skills training programme at the Collège La Cité in Ottawa, Canada aims to attract young people into historic vehicle restoration from September 2022.  Michel Lamoureux, principal advisor for the programme, told the symposium about the two-year course, one with an international approach, offering global recruitment, work placements and collaborations with restoration shops, museums, collectors, auction houses, clubs, associations and automotive media.

Eastern European countries are increasingly looking for opportunities in historic vehicle restoration.  Cătălin Cedric Ghigea has run a specialist facility near Bucharest International Airport for the past 18 years, working on 20 or 30 cars a year.  He says all his clients are from Western Europe, and similar operations are being successfully set up and run in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

 

David Cooper of Chicago-based Cooper Technica Inc. spoke of his “forensic restoration” technique when recreating parts that can no longer be sourced.  He has travelled all over the world researching original design drawings, surviving broken parts, and construction techniques, methods and materials.

 

Well-known collector Corrado Lopresto from Milan uses modern techniques taken from the art world for his special Italian cars, both to analyse monochromatic photographs to identify the true colours of the time, and to preserve the original paint as much as possible, entrusting his cars to professional restorers of vintage paintings.

 

President of Retromobil Club Romania, Gabriela Măgureanu, concluded, “It’s high time we talked about restoration and worked together to create opportunities, share experience, exchange ideas and address challenges better.  We are honoured that these leading figures have agreed to share their knowledge, and we aim for this symposium to be the first of many.”

Organisers of Bernina Gran Turismo have expanded their offering to encompass a week of automotive festivities for this year’s event, which will be the seventh edition. Celebrating the Internationale St. Moritzer Automobilwochen that took place in St Moritz in 1920 and ’30, an automotive film festival, a sprint race, and a concours will culminate with the Bernina Hillclimb in the week of 10-19 September. The latest announcement from organisers is that RM Sotheby’s will also be holding an auction on the grounds of the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St. Moritz Bad on 17 September, RM Sotheby’s first auction in Switzerland. The event will now be known as the International St. Moritz Automobile Week and can be found at http://i-s-a-w.com.

The huge organisational machine behind the giant Auto e Moto d’Epoca exhibition in Padua is working full steam ahead for the 2021 edition, having reported strong demand for its 115,000 square metres of exhibition space from international vendors.

One of the new features of the 21-24 October show, will be a special focus on Classic Motor Sports and competition cars highlighting an industry on the rise with an increasing number of fans. The show, spanning 11 exhibition halls in addition to the outdoor areas, will host a special exhibition of barchetta sports cars and torpedoes that raced before the war, Formula cars, World Touring Car Championship racing cars and the stars of the great international rallies from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Other themes this year are 100 years of the Lancia Lambda, and motor bikes from famous collections, from rare Menons to old single-cylinder Moto Guzzi to the great Japanese motorbikes of the 70s. Go to https://autoemotodepoca.com for tickets.

The Circuit Paul Ricard is continuing its commitment to sustainable development initiated more than ten years ago by adding a new action to its environmental approach: the switch of its entire diesel fleet to biodiesel.  In 2019, Circuit Paul Ricard became the first circuit in France and the second Formula 1 circuit in the world to obtain the highest level of FIA environmental certification (3 stars).  This certification is the reward for the monitoring of air quality, measurement of noise emissions, eco-grazing, sorting and recycling of waste, recovery of rainwater, photovoltaic panels, etc.  In addition, in terms of sustainable mobility, the circuit plays a role in reducing fossil fuel consumption with a large fleet of electric vehicles for the technical teams.  The circuit is also equipped with 20,000 m² of photovoltaic panels which produce 3,484 MWh, the equivalent of the consumption of 2,968 people per year (excluding heating), green energy which thus compensates for the supply of its charging stations for electric vehicles and its hydrogen station, the first in the Departement of the Var.

Concours d’Elegances seem to be proliferating in today’s world, with new ones popping up regularly, while the old established ones seem to be changing hands.  After the acquisition earlier in the year of the Cavallino Classic by Canossa Events, Michigan-based Hagerty has announced it has acquired the Amelia Island Concours, one of the largest and most prestigious concours, events, founded 26 years ago by Bill Warner, who will remain as event Chairman.  Known for its world-wide classic vehicle insurance business Hagerty has also recently acquired other top-tier US automotive events, including the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, Concours d’Elegance of America and the California Mille.  The company takes part in more than 2,500 car events annually.

 

Marcus Pye Writes…..

The Historic Formula Ford 2000 championship had its first female race winner - on track at least - when Molly Dodd took the chequered flag in the second heat on Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on Friday, July 9.  The 18-year-old was unsurprisingly deflated, however, when a 30 second penalty for a non-functional timing transponder saw her re-classified fifth.

First on the Road: Molly Dodd in her #147 Royale  Photo Gary Hawkins

The fault, flagged-up during the morning’s qualifying, with a warning that the competitor might not be timed in the race if not fixed per MSUK statute, proved to be an error.  Dodd’s team had wired the ‘red box’ into her Royale RP27’s electrical system, which trumped its built-in battery and failed to trigger TSL’s clocks.  Chief timekeeper Nick Palmer’s ‘walk-through’ of the timing beacon with Molly subsequently demonstrated that it worked independently.    

Without slicks-and-wings experience, the Junior Saloon Car and Ginetta Junior graduate’s progress has been impressive in her maiden single-seater season.  In a super-competitive category, which to most would be a steep learning curve, the Loughborough College student and MSUK Driver Academy member improved her personal best points race finish from 12th (at Cadwell Park and Donington) to sixth, then fourth at Brands.  Her Saturday final drive on the Grand Prix circuit - where she had topped the qualifying times for a while - suggested that her dream of an overall podium is attainable. 

After an enforced absence in 2020 due to COVID, the popular American Speedfest returned to Brands Hatch, appropriately over the 4th of July weekend.  This was the eighth running of the event which centres around the NASCAR sanctioned Whelan Euro Series (NWES).  While most of the race programme is for modern machines there is some interest to historic race fans with races for Formula 5000 and Bernie’s V8s.  

The most interesting entry in Bernie’s V8 race was Greg Thornton’s unique 1961 McKee Mahyra, a car built for the USRRC series racing prior to the introduction of the Can-Am category in the US  Photos Eric Sawyer

Sadly the F5000 races attracted a small field of just nine cars with two 20-minute races won by Greg Thornton in his Chevron B24 from the Chevron B37 of Neil Glover.  In contrast, Bernie’s V8s series was oversubscribed with a full grid of 34 cars starting the first of three races over the weekend.  Despite the series name, although aimed at V8-powered cars from the 50s through to the early 90s, the eclectic mix included a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus and a Ford GT40 replica.  Three races produced three different winners, the first going to Sam Wilson in an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the second to the Ford Escort Mexico of Michael Saunders and finally, the third to the V8-powered Austin Healey 106 of James Plant.  

Derek Drinkwater’s Buick Regal

In recent years the programme has included demos by historic NASCARs and this year saw the largest ever gathering, with 16 cars taking to the track, as UK enthusiasts bring more such cars in from the USA.  One of the earlier cars, the Buick Regal of Derek Drinkwater, also raced in Bernie’s V8s races.  The weekend aims at celebrating all things American with massive American car displays, monster truck rides etc. and even a BBQ competition.

Chevrolet short track NASCAR raced throughout the Carolinas during the ‘50s