The Silverstone Classic 2005
Last weekend Silverstone circuit staged its biggest historic meeting of the last few years under the title ‘Silverstone Classic’. Spread over two days, fans were treated to races spanning six decades of Formula One, Le Mans, Formula Junior, Saloons and "Formula Libre".
All the grids sported legendary makes, Jaguar C -types to XJR12s, Lotus 16s to 91s, Minis to Galaxies. The weather was typical for July, and the sun made only brief appearances but the racing more than compensated for this. Silverstone with its wide open spaces and good run-off areas encouraged the drivers to risk using the full potential of their rare and valuable cars, and the crowd enjoyed some spectacular racing.
Frank Sytner won both rounds of the GP Masters events in his 1975 Penske PC3 but only by 0.9 of a second in the first race from Peter Wuensch’s 1977 Wolf WR1.The Denny Hulme Trophy for sports cars saw Frank win again in the 1969 white and green “Syd Taylor” Lola T70, There were a few heart-stopping moments while lapping back markers but this time Frank finished 43 seconds ahead of Irvine Laidlaw’s 1970 Chevron B8.
For those of us of a "certain age" there were two particularly memory-evoking sights over the weekend. The first was Jackie Oliver taking the wheel of the blue and orange Gulf GT40, a car with which he had many successes in the 1960s, managing third place this time in the Denny Hulme Trophy. The second being [The - Ed.] Alan Mann, racing in one of his famous red and gold liveried cars, this time a 1965 Ford Mustang.
It wasn’t just the stars of yesteryear that had the crowd enthralled, the sight of Duncan Dayton throwing his 1959 Lotus 16 through the corners on opposite lock during the pre-1966 F1 races brought cheers from the onlookers. Perhaps the loudest applause was on Sunday for the "Little & Large" show staged during the John Cooper Trophy race, when Alan Baillie 1960 Lotus 18 and Mark Gillies 1934 ERA battled it out wheel to wheel lap after lap. Alan eventually piped Mark for 6th place but they both received a standing ovation from the crowd on the slowing down lap.
If all that excitement became too much then you could wander around the paddock or enjoy the many car club displays, vintage aircraft display, art gallery and funfair set up on Silverstone’s infield. Another speciality of Silverstone is the celebrity autograph sessions with the likes of John Watson and Jackie Oliver in attendance, again this proved very popular over the weekend. Co-sponsors of the weekend Bonhams held one of their mouth-watering and wallet-busting auctions with a wonderful array of items for sale. Click HERE to see the full motor car results.
A great weekend with a wonderful entry of cars, and it’s good to see Silverstone staging such an event again. Dates for next year are already set 28/29/30 July, so with their facilities and expertise I’m sure it will be bigger and - if that’s possible - better than this year.
Story and photos by Roger Dixon - all Strictly Copyright.
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