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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 September  issue:  Latest News - Bits & Pieces - Rally News - Classic Marathon - Rally Weiz - Lahti Historic Rally - Heroes of Historic Motor Sport - Insider’s Market Report - Zandvoort Classics - Seven Questions for Erik Comas -  Nogaro Classic - VSCC Prescott - NKHTGT - Classic Silverstone - Historic Tour Dijon - Alfa Revival Cup

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April 2021

 Content from the April 2021 Issue.....

  • 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

  • Two Corsican rally greats, Jean-Pierre Manzagol and Ange-Marie Venturini are working on their plans for the recently-announced, Aléria Historic Rally, which will take place in on 9-12 June on the eastern coast and in the centre of the island (see our March issue). Venturini will be driving his ex- Andruet, Darniche, Thérier and Nicolas Alpine Berlinetta that he has owned since 1975 under the number 0, while Manzagol is preparing a Renault R5 Group 2 (also from the ‘70s), with which he intends to compete for the Terre-Asphalte trophy. “The idea of a historic rally here in Corsica combining the two playing fields is excellent.” said Manzagol of the mixed surface rally organised by Yves Loubet and Dume Savignoni. “A very good rally like this was lacking. Especially since on gravel, in Corsica, we didn’t have much until now. You had to dare to invent it,” he added. “Corsica is made for rallying,” commented Venturini. “On top of that, looking at the route, it’s clear that the Aléria Historic was mapped out by true rallymen.” Competitors can tackle either the Asphalt or gravel rally, or both. There is also a regularity class for the Asphalt rally. See aleriahistoricrally.fr for entries.

  • While the Ypres Rally Belgium has moved to August to become a round of the World Rally Championship, the Ypres Historic Rally plans to run on the event’s traditional date of June 27. The 28th edition of the Historic Rally, which is a round of the Historic Belgian Championship, will have a route covering three different special stages, organised separately from the WRC event. “We have chosen to organise the Historic Rally on our traditional date,” said Jan Huyghe of Club Superstage. “We are creating an additional event to support the local hospitality industry, and it will be an ideal warm-up for the WRC round.”

  • Sadly the end of COVID is not yet upon us, and this has led Peter Auto to take the decision, in accordance with all the towns along the way, to postpone the Tour Auto again this year. To have run on 19-24 April, the new date for the 30th running of the event will be 30 August-4 September. The itinerary remains unchanged with the start from the Grand Palais Ephémère in Paris and the finish in the beautiful town of Nice, as it did 30 years ago.

    “We’ll be back on the road for the Tour Auto Optic 2ooo in September, a date which met with great success last year,” commented Patrick Peter.

    This postponement has opened an opportunity for the Dix Mille Tours du Castellet, which had to be postponed from March, to re-schedule to 30 April-2 May.

  • Leading classic rally promoter HERO-ERA was forced to substantially re-work its calendar for the spring and early summer in response to on-going COVID restrictions. The Flying Scotsman event for Pre-War cars, planned for April, has been cancelled for this year but will return in 2022. Meanwhile, the ever-popular Scottish Malts has been re-scheduled to September 13-17. Other events, including the HERO Challenge One and the Novice Trial are also moving to dates later in the year in line with the UK government’s road map for coming out of the pandemic.

    The Sahara Challenge, HERO Challenge Three, Lima to Cape Horn, The RAC Rally of the Tests and Le Jog currently remain unchanged on the 2021 calendar. The Per Ardua Ad Infinitum, postponed from March, has been moved to January 7-8 next year for a route in Somerset and North Devon. Competition Director Guy Woodcock said, “We are aiming to confirm a May date for the first rally of 2021, the HERO Challenge in the Peak District.”

  • This has had the knock-on effect of causing organisers of the Stella Alpina rally, which was to take place on the new Mille Miglia dates, to move their date to 11-13 June. This year’s event, which is the 36th running, will be based in Madonna di Campiglio and take in many of the greatest Dolomite passes, as competitors drive through the World Heritage site and the National Parks of the region. There is also a Ferrari rally that runs concurrently with the historic Stella Alpina. See canossa.com for details.

  • For reasons that appear obvious, the Swiss have maintained a lively schedule of hillclimb events nearly from the beginning of the motor car itself, the first was in 1901. These include such giants as the Klausenrennen, first run in 1922 and considered to be the Nordschleife of the hillclimb world, with its 21.5 kilometres and 136 bends at over 1,237 metres in altitude.

    Revival events of some of the most famous, including the Klausenrennen, the Ollon-Villars and others, have been popular in Switzerland for the last couple of decades, though sadly the Klausenrennen has since been abandoned as a revival event for safety reasons. It will be 100 years old next year, and there has been much speculation about holding some kind of event to mark the centenary.

     Photo Courtesy Bernina Gran Turismo

    Ollon-Villars International Motor Race

    The 8.3 km Ollon-Villars hillclimb first ran in 1953 and was once a round of the European Hillclimb Championship, with a who’s who of elite racing drivers of the time participating. It now runs for historic cars every three years, attracting more than 300 entries, including Formula One cars. But these cars are not racing, these are demonstration runs. Due to run in 2020, it was cancelled because of COVID, so it will run for the eighth time this year instead, on 21-22 August. Always attracting large crowds of spectators, this is a social event with a charming, festival atmosphere, where one can enjoy the cars, the Alpine summer and the good company. See www.ollon-villars.com.

    Bernina Gran Turismo

    The Bernina Gran Turismo loosely revives a pre-war speed event held in the area around St Moritz, and now consists of a 5.6km hillclimb for both speed and regularity competitors, as well as for motorbikes, to the top of the Bernina pass from La Rösa. The three-day event also offers an opportunity to enjoy all the tourist attractions of St Moritz and the surrounding villages, as well as the fine dining and hotels of the region. Revived in 2014, it traditionally runs in mid-September, and this year will take place on the 16th to the 19th of the month. See www.bernina-granturismo.com.

     

    Arosa ClassicCar

    Not a revival, but a well-established event for historic cars, Arosa ClassicCar will run for the 17th time, also in September, along the 7.3 km hillclimb route from Langwiese to the ski resort of Arosa, situated not far from Davos. With an altitude difference of 422 metres, it is the only Swiss hillclimb that incorporates a downhill section. It also has a regularity category, and an exhibition category with no timing. Amongst the speed categories, is one for Formula cars, and entry lists are regularly filled with up to 200 cars of all shapes and sizes. Competitors get practice runs on Friday and four timed runs over Saturday and Sunday. This year the dates are 3-5 September. See www.arosaclassiccar.ch for details.

  • The 17th edition of the Mallorcan Rally Classic took place on 11-13 March. Having been perhaps the last competitive event to take place just before the 2020 lockdown began - indeed it was actually cut short when the lockdown went into place - this year it was one of the first events to run. That it took place at all, last year or this, was thanks to the herculean efforts of rally organiser Toni Dezcallar, who worked tirelessly to gain permission to run it in the face of all the COVID restrictions. These included restricting admission to the Service Park in Puerto Portals, an absolute ban on spectators on the special stages, and a schedule of testing for everyone involved. Fortune smiled on Toni as the island of Mallorca reduced its pandemic emergency code shortly before the start of the rally, allowing restricted opening of bars, restaurants and hotels. In addition, travel from Germany, from where a core group of competitors comes, became permissible subject to a five day quarantine.

    Tomeu Castañer and Miquel Deya in their Jaguar E-type were untroubled by the Nigorra Jaguar to win the Low Speed Regularity category.  Photos Courtesy Rally Clásico

    Puerto Portals retained its position as title sponsor of the event and Michael Stoschek’s Brose Components, Germany’s largest independent motor parts manufacturer continued its long term association. Michael would run his self-manufactured, modern, all carbon version of the Lancia Stratos in the Show Car category, co-driving with his son Maximilian.

     

     

    The entry necessarily suffered from the travel restrictions around Europe. Indeed, until a few days before the start Spain was restricting inbound travel to its citizens and those with residency. Although this was relaxed for the Germans, the competitors from the UK as well as everywhere else were prohibited. Whereas the majority of those who choose to compete in the regularity sections tend to be Mallorquins, Island residents or Spanish Nationals, the converse is true for the competition groups. The regularity entry held up well with 12 in High Speed and 14 in Low Speed. Favourite for this important speciality were multiple previous winners Tony Barcelo and Joan Vergers in their BMW 2002 Tii. The Show Car class even augmented its popularity with 16 starters.

    A notable first here was the entry of an all-electric car. This was the Loryc Batteryrunner of Charly and Leone Bosch. The cars are built just down the road from the service park at Sa Bugadelles. How many people know that Mallorca has its own car manufacturer?

    The Youngtimers result was never in doubt with the local crew of Jose Martorell and Tomeu Fluxa winning by nearly fteen minutes

    It was the competition class that took the hardest hit from the travel restrictions, with no fewer than 18 entries from the UK lost. These included Steve Perez, boss of the Amigo beer drinks conglomerate, Silverstone Auctions founder Nick Whale, and John Sheldon who missed out on his 20th consecutive appearance at the rally. The class was left with a scant six starters. Two of these presented an intriguing prospect. Former event winner and multiple rally champion Kris Rosenberger had forsaken his regular co-driver of many years, the vastly experienced Cristina Ettel for the young local Sara Adolph. Their partnership had not got off to a good start when Kris almost destroyed his regular 1982 Porsche 911 in the local Rally Conserves Rosselló - Vila de Sineu event in September, leaving Sara quite badly bruised. It was a great effort to have the car repaired in time. Meanwhile, Cristina Ettel found herself a seat with German specialist car dealer Florian Feustel in a 1975 IROC Porsche 911.

    Overall winners of the Competition section were Florian Feustel and a delighted Cristina Ettel in the 1974 Porsche IROC RSR. Theirs had been a near faultless and strategically impeccable performance.

    For a full Report see our April 2021 Issue

  • One of the recurring themes encountered in this magazine, be it from the contributors or from the readers, is the “win at all costs” debate. Most of us say that historic racing shouldn’t be about winning, then we prepare our cars to within an inch of their legality and go out onto the track or rally stage with only one goal in mind – or at least there are many with that attitude. However there are some who really do just want to enjoy the cars. Some are not drivers of great talent, but they enjoy their racing just as much as the winners do, always seeking to improve on their personal best. Others want to campaign cars they love, even though they know they have no chance of a win in their category. These are the heroes of historic racing. They seldom get a mention, but we want to celebrate them in these pages.

    Our photographers and contributors were asked to nominate their heroes of historic racing. Here are a few offerings.. Nominations from fellow competitors for future issues are welcome, accompanied with a few explanatory words.

     

    Ian Simmonds - Nominated by Mattijs Diepraam 

    Photos Ma js Diepraam

    A stalwart of the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship for many years, Ian Simmonds has had his moments – such as fighting Greg Thornton for the championship some eight seasons ago – but most of the time he is well aware that there are better drivers on the grid than him. Success is irrelevant, he says, and his biggest competition is with his own expectations – he is only satisfied once he has exceeded those. He is still amazed that at the time he thought that stepping up from a Radical to a Tyrrell 012 Formula One car was a good idea, then wanted to walk away moments before his first test in the car, but somehow found the courage to continue while facing the steepest learning curve of his life. He has done so year after year, with the same Tyrrell, and with the mentality that typifies the unsung heroes of historic motorsport – feeling utterly privileged to be driving a Formula One car and sharing a grid with machines that were once raced by Ronnie Peterson and James Hunt. For me as a journalist, it feels like a privilege to be close to those machines and to be able to write about them – and it’s always good to meet someone who feels the same about driving them.

    Egbert Kolvoort – Nominated by Carlo Senten

      

    Photos Carlo Senten

    I would like to nominate the racing secretary of the NKHTGT, Egbert Kolvoort. With his MGB he has been racing at the back of the field for years, but has managed to improve his personal record every year. However my nomination is more for his commitment to the NKHTGT and to Dutch historic motorsport. For me, he is the type of person we need more of in the sport where egos often get in the way.

     

    Brian and Barbara Lambert - Nominated by Carol Spagg

    Photo Stefan Eckhardt

    Brian and Barbara Lambert have been racing an MGB since at least 2003. That is when they entered the Gentleman Drivers race at Spa and I first met them. After that they became friends and regulars in the series. Though never at the real sharp end with their 1800cc car, they often won their class, often against theoretically quicker cars. The pair look after the car themselves, while dispensing numerous cups of tea and coffee to their many friends in the paddock and always adding to the enjoyment and friendly ambiance. They became regular drivers in Equipe GTS, where Barbara continued to run in the MGB and Brian campaigned a Ginetta G4, both sometimes sharing with son Mark.

    Photo Carlo Senten 

    Always glad to be out racing, they have also raced in the Top Hat series, with the HSCC, GTSCC and just about anywhere else they can find some good racing amongst like-minded people. Barbara and Brian have also been campaigning the MGB and Ginetta respectively in the Dutch NKHTGT Championship with much class success. Driving the smallest car in a big field, with just 997cc, Brian became the 2018 Dutch Champion! The same year Brian drove the Ginetta, with Uwe Markovac, in the Pre-‘63 GT series. A welcome addition to the series, it was especially nice for me to see the couple in the paddock again, and meet the equally enthusiastic and friendly Uwe. Both Brian and Barbara are always pleasant in the paddock and both are true enthusiasts. In all these years, they have never left anyone in doubt about how much enjoyment they derive from their racing. They are best sort of historic racing people.

    Barbara Lambert receiving the GT&SCC Ladies Prize, which she has won on a number of occasions, from John Pearson in 2010.

     

    John Delane - Nominated by Jon Bunston

       

    Photos Jon Bunston

    I first met John Delane in 2010 at Hockenheim, where he was racing in the Historic Formula One race, and my opinion of the American from California has remained the same to this day, simply ‘what a nice guy’. Always engaging about his racing, he has embraced the history of Tyrrell, and more importantly, supported it. After seeing Jackie Stewart’s performance at Monza in the Tyrrell 001, he vowed to race one of his own one day and he accomplished his dream. After his early days in a Viceroy-liveried Lola T400 F5000 car, his Tyrrell dream came in 1998 when the François Cevert car, no. 002 came up for sale in California. Further acquisitions of Tyrrell 001, the team transporter, and 004 were added to his collection. John has been racing Formula 1 cars and his immaculate Lotus 15 ever since, regularly winning championships and flying the Tyrrell flag. He now also owns 006 and is the guardian of three of the seven early Tyrrells that still exist. Supported by Hall & Hall his cars were probably the best prepared and presented in the historic paddock, testament to John’s desire to show these cars at their absolute best. It is a great outcome for Ken’s cars, in the loving care of this passionate collector who knows how to race them and is still the same a nice guy. “The difference between me and a real racing driver is that I didn’t wake up with talent. I took lessons and worked at it. I’m a student of motor racing,” he once said in an interview with Motor Sport. John’s newest enthusiasm is campaigning a Chevron B21 in American races, where grids can contain a large span of cars and where he races against cars like 2005 Audi R8 LMP, 2013 Oreca FLM 9, but also GT40 and Ginetta G12.

  • Though restrictions on numbers were in place Peter R. Hill was one of the lucky few to attend the March 5-7 Phillip Island Classic and bring back this report. 

    A year ago, the Victorian Historic Racing Register (VHRR) held its annual Festival of Classic Motorsport at Phillip Island, south-east of Melbourne. One week later the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled and COVID-19 changed the world. A year has passed since then and the VHRR again welcomed competitors to the island.

    A car rarely seen on Australian tracks, Ian Buddery raced his March 86c Indy car.  Photos Neil Hammond

    The club had taken a gamble in outlaying the funds to secure the circuit and facilities for the weekend when even a small outbreak of the virus could have seen the state locked down again and all events cancelled. Fortune favoured their bravery. Eleven fields took to the track comprising three hundred and sixty entries, no doubt rejoicing to be back doing what they loved.

    Australians have a love affair with Ford versus Holden V8 racing

    The event normally hosts between 450 and 500 entries but this year there were no overseas cars and inter-state entries were undoubtedly reduced because of the risk of a sudden closure of a state border. Spectator numbers were limited to one thousand each day, with tickets pre-purchased on-line. For those of us lucky enough to be there the extra space and lack of a milling throng was relished. Selfish, I know.

    An eye-catching brace of Brabham BT30 team cars

    Despite the reduction in entries there was still plenty to delight the enthusiast. A brace of Brabham BT30s were eye-catching. These were team cars — both red with Irish Racing Cars sign-written on their flanks. One was the ex-Alan Rollinson car, the owner of which is now Noel Robson, who explained that this car had been in Australia for many years and he was fortunate enough to be able to purchase it when his son Andrew wanted to retire from his Lola T330 F5000. The sister car belongs to Sean Whelan and is the ex-Tommy Reid car that Whelan imported from England. In the race these two led a field that was a mixture of racing and sports cars from ‘61 to ‘69 that included four pretty Lotus 18 Formula Juniors, an assortment of other Brabhams and a lone Chevron B14.

    John Hardy’s lovely Alpine A110 1600S has been raced and hillclimbed for 30 years

    In another mixed field of sports and racing cars that ranged from the 1930s to 1960 was the striking Allard J2X, its 5.4 litre engine a healthy litre bigger than anything else in the field. This is chassis number 3146 which was brought back to life by Joe Calleja and first raced here in 2018. This is the car that was driven by Carroll Shelby in five races in 1953 for four wins and a second place, and it is said that this is what got him noticed and launched him on his subsequent racing career. One of Australia’s most versatile racers, John Bowe was in Shelby’s seat for the occasion. Sadly, although the Allard qualified third it failed to finish its races. It was a shame we were unable to see Bowe, the two-time Australian Drivers’ Champion and twice winner of the Bathurst 1000, manhandling the Allard around the island.

    For a Full Report See Our April 2021 Issue