Silverstone Festival 25-27 August

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It started in 1991 as the Christie’s Historic International Festival, then morphed into the Coys Historic Festival, then for many years it was the Silverstone Classic.  Now set on a date a month later, it has reverted to the Silverstone Festival title, perhaps to better encompass the many other activities apart from the racing that take place during the three-day weekend.   Retaining the twin-paddock format used since the Wing was inaugurated, the track action is constant throughout the three days, with grids from the HSCC, Masters, MRL, HGPCA and FJHRA.  Also familiar was the fickle Silverstone weather that bounced back and forth between pleasant sunshine and torrential rains lashing down extremely locally.  Much of the racing proved to be highly entertaining, and the same applied to the demos in between.  These included F1 cars paying tribute to Silverstone’s illustrious F1 history in the circuit’s 75th anniversary year.

Photo Mattijs Diepraam

Mattijs Diepraam & Paul Lawrence report…

Formula One

On the back of their record entry at Zandvoort in June, the headlining Masters Racing Legends for 1966-‘85 Formula One cars produced an impressive 30-car grid.  With numerous professionals and experienced old hands topping the entry list, it was especially satisfying for gentleman racer Ken Tyrrell to beat them all to pole position, as the American continued the high that he reached when he took his first two wins at Zandvoort in July.

In Saturday’s first race, though, the headlines were stolen by Mike Cantillon who despite dropping back a spot on the opening laps was a man unleashed at the restart following a mid-race safety-car.  The Irishman picked up his Williams FW07C by the scruff of its neck and in one lap surged from fourth to first to claim a memorable victory.  However, post-race scrutineering revealed that Cantillon’s rear wing exceeded its height by a couple of millimetres, the result of his team overlooking its correct measurement before sending the car out.  The Stewards could do nothing but disqualify him, handing the spoils to runner-up Tyrrell for his third win in a row.

With numerous professionals and old hands topping the entry list, it was especially satisfying for gentleman racer Ken Tyrrell to beat them all to pole position Photo John Retter

On Sunday Michael Lyons won a gamble to start with slick tyres on a partly damp, partly dry track, running away to a dominant win in his German-run Lotus 91.  While Lyons disappeared out of sight, Stretton came out on top of a highly entertaining battle that also involved Ken Tyrrell, who charged up from ninth on the reversed grid, a resurgent Hartley (despite a big spin), Jamie Constable in the other Denim-liveried Tyrrell 011, and Mike Cantillon, the latter proving a point by storming up from last to fifth in a brilliant comeback race. 

A busy John Spiers was in five races – in one of which he was driving two cars – and showed well in all of them. He looked set to bag the HGPCA front-engined trophy in his 250F but failed to transfer his class-dominanting Saturday performance to Sunday’s race, and had to give way to Mark Shaw’s Offy- powered Scarab   Photo Eric Sawyer

The Historic Grand Prix Cars Association hosted three races.  A combined grid on Saturday paid tribute to Silverstone’s 75th anniversary with over 40 cars on the grid, including a Talbot Lago that took part in the very first Silverstone Grand Prix 75 years ago, along with an ERA from 1934 making up a huge variety of cars – and two split races for front and rear-engined cars on Sunday. 

Gary Pearson and Alex Brundle returned Ferrari to the prototype Olympus Photo Eric Sawyer

Formula Junior

As has become the norm, Formula Juniors opened the race programme each day in style.  On Saturday it was Horatio Fitz-Simon who made the early running with Sam Wilson, Alex Ames and Samuel Harrison chasing.  Though he led initially Fitz-Simon was struggling with an over-stiff set-up for the conditions and had a big slide at Stowe, which dropped him to fourth as Wilson and Ames broke clear.  They battled all the way to the line and Wilson got the verdict by less than three tenths of a second.

Photo Jakob Ebrey

For a full race report see our October 2023 issue – available in hard copy or digital.

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