Following victories for AC Cobra drivers at Donington and on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit earlier in the season, lithe sports racing cars had the upper hand at the Castle Combe Autumn Classic, an exciting — and very different — new third stop on the GT & Sports Car Cup’s 2017 tour. Opened in 1950 and lightly revised in ’99, the challenging 1.85-mile former airfield circuit was new to many competitors, a number that included eventual winner Philip Walker (who lives 30 miles away) and his orange Lotus 15’s co-driver Miles Griffiths (above).
The pair were kept on their toes by eventual runner-up Ben Adams, making an impressive GTSCC debut with the Lola Mk1 that had been raced at the venue in period by Dickie Le Strange Metcalfe. Metcalfe himself, together with local ace Mark Williams driving a Cobra, engaged Walker in an early battle for the lead. Both Williams and fellow Cobra pilots Chris Wilson and Nigel Williams encountered ignition problems, but that did not diminish their furious scrap for Pre-’66 GT honors, resolved in favor of Cobra soloist Mark Williams.
Now in its sixth year, the Autumn Classic is a wonderfully sociable meeting that attracts a fine turnout of avid spectators, many of whom arrive in classic cars. Knowledgeable enthusiasts stood several rows deep at Quarry, a deceptive corner that’s approached flat-out over a brow.
“Castle Combe is not a big international venue,” acknowledged series organizer Vanessa Marcais, “but the Autumn Classic is a super event which the GTSCC was pleased to support. We could not have been made more welcome and, judging by feedback we have received, put on a great show. This was club racing at its very best, a relaxing day’s motor sport close to home for most competitors before our 11th seasonal finale in Portugal.”