Amid the hustle and bustle and razzmatazz of the 2016 edition of the Silverstone Classic, those who were still riveted to their seats watching the penultimate race of the event witnessed the epitome of racing spirit. It was the second leg of the Maserati Trophy for HGPCA pre ’66 Grand Prix Cars, a race that was initially red flagged, — the first in a very hectic weekend of racing — due to a start-line melee. Jon Fairley’s Brabham stalled, and while most of the grid missed the motionless car, Fred Harper’s Kurtis collected him and the ensuing chain reaction eliminated a number of other competitors.
The restarted race was held over a reduced duration of 15 minutes, with Will Nuthall in the Cooper T53 leading Peter Horsman in a Lotus 18/21. Horsman quickly found his way past Saturday’s winner, the pair of them stretching away from Rod Jolley’s Cooper T45/51, but a driveshaft failure then caused Nuthall’s retirement. That promoted Tony Wood in the unique Maserati Tec Mec onto the final podium position. Richard Tarling’s Assegai F1 had caught him on the final lap, but as Tarling struck, his car suddenly slowed, allowing Wood to claim 3rd.
Running on adrenalin, and in a style reminiscent of Sir Jack Brabham taking 4th place at the 1959 USGP at Sebring, or Nigel Mansell’s effort to take 6th in the 1984 Dallas GP, Tarling got out of his stricken car and pushed it across the finish line to take 19th place. After the race he said, “After setting the lap record by nearly two seconds and going for 3rd overall in the HGPCA F1 race, the fuel pump gave up on the hanger straight. I managed to coast within 10 meters of the line and just had to get it across the line whatever!”
Once again, the Silverstone Classic produced another record-breaking event with more than 100,000 visitors, featuring over 1,000 of the most valuable and revered competition cars from yesteryear — yes, this surely is the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival. Spectators were treated to the sights and sounds of some awesome racing too, diametrically opposed to relatively noiseless modern Grand Prix cars that graced the British GP just a matter of weeks ago.
Surely, the most evocative race was the 30-minute dusk race featuring Group C cars remembering those exhilarating days at Le Mans during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Nathan Kinch took full advantage of pole position in his Judd V10-powered Lola. Behind the two Nissan R93s of Bob Berridge and Katsu Kubota, Christophe D’Ansembourg’s high-tech Jaguar XJR14 and Mark Sumpter’s Porsche 962 were all sending up sparks in the dusk as they skirmished for 2nd place. Kinch wasted no time making his escape, but the four cars behind put on a fantastic show. The Ross Brawn-designed Jaguar eventually made its way through the squabbling Nissans, but then slowed on the final lap, elevating Kubota and Sumpter onto the remaining places on the podium.
Of the many celebrations, Can-Am cars marked the 50th Anniversary of the inaugural championship with Rob Hall scoring a brace of victories in the Matra MS670B in the double-header races. Hall managed a triple, with a win in the Matra MS650 with teammate Andy Willis in the first of the FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars races of the weekend. There was a special display of James Hunt racing cars and ephemera acknowledging the 40 years since his famous World Championship victory. The circuit also hosted a huge number of special parades organized by car clubs marking important milestones in their chosen marque’s history. Biggest of these was the 200-plus cavalcade from Porsche Club GB celebrating 40 years since the introduction of the company’s first “transaxle” model in 1976. Other equally honorable commemorative processions featured large numbers of Lamborghinis, Vipers, Morgans, Lotuses, Hondas, Mercedes, Lancias, Nissans, Pipers, Panthers, Jaguars, BMWs, Allards, Westfields and even Austin A35s.
After more than 72 action-packed hours the curtain finally came down on this year’s Classic. “I know we say the same every summer, but this year’s Silverstone Classic really was the biggest and best yet,” enthused Nick Wigley, CEO of Goose Live Events, the company behind the Silverstone Classic. “A massive amount of work goes into the organization of what’s the biggest classic motor racing meeting on the planet, but when you see all these amazing grids, all the phenomenal car club displays and all the smiling faces of the young and not quite so young, you can’t help but be both proud and inspired. Once again, we have raised the bar. Our target is now to raise it still higher in 2017!”
The provisional date for next summer’s Silverstone Classic is 21-24 July 2017.
For a full list of race results please follow the link, www.mstworld.com/results/event/6