The 2011 Silverstone Classic yesterday (Sunday) drew to a close but not before a second consecutive day of exhilarating racing on track plus non-stop automotive-themed displays and activities – as well as top-class music acts – it kept a mammoth sun-soaked crowd fully entertained.
Undoubtedly, this was the biggest and best Classic yet with more race and road cars spanning the whole motoring spectrum in action and on display than at any other time in the world-famous event’s history. Retail malls, many of them with a nostalgic feel, added to the appeal and effectively resulted in every corner of Silverstone’s usually vast site being crammed with activity.
A major highlight was an on-track parade by many hundreds of cars belonging to the 120 owners clubs present – in total they contributed a staggering collection of some 7000 cars for the public to view. This followed Saturday’s cavalcade of more than 800 E-type Jaguars on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit to mark the official 50th birthday celebrations of one of motoring’s most iconic cars. Saturday had also seen 14 celebrity names take part in a special ‘Celebrity Challenge’ race in identical Morgan sportscars in aid of the ‘Bobby Moore Fund’ for Cancer Research UK. Rocker Rick Parfitt Jnr won the race ahead of Heston Blumenthal and Brendan Cole, although the major talking point was a spectacular crash for ex-England footballer Luther Blissett whose car rolled over three times.
Sunday’s action was a continuation of glorious sights and sounds of yesteryear with capacity grids of historic Formula 1, sports, saloon and GT cars. Ewan McIntyre overcame drivers in more powerful machinery to win the prestigious Stirling Moss Trophy, named after the legendary F1 and sportscar racer and for pre-1961 sportscars. Sam Wilson came out on top to take Formula Junior honours but only after another race-long wheel-to-wheel dice with Jon Milicevic.
Leo Voyazides (Ford Falcon), Oliver Bryant (Lola T70), Philip Walker (Lotus 16) and Andy Meyrick (March 761) emerged as comfortable winners in races for big-engined touring cars, sportscars and F1 cars respectively. So, too, Jon Minshaw in the second of two E-type Challenge races held of over the weekend as part of the car’s golden anniversary celebrations.
Bob Berridge took the car of its day, the striking Mercedes C11, to victory ahead of a wonderful field of Group C ‘Le Mans’ machinery but only after Japanese racer Hideki Yamamuchi’s Nissan had briefly led during a spirited attack.
But perhaps the big result of the day was the dramatic victory for Stuart Graham and Richard Attwood in the ‘blue riband’ Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars endurance race. Notably, Graham is the only post-war winner of the TT on both two and four wheels; for Attwood, the result marked another big result in his illustrious career that has included spells in Formula 1 plus, most famously, victory in the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours in 1970. It was Attwood who came through to win on the final lap in their Aston Martin DB4 GT when the leading Ferrari 250 GT of Hans Hugenholtz/David Hart cruelly stopped at the side of the track.
Sunday’s final race was another ‘thriller’ that again was only decided on the final lap – New Zealander Roger Wills looked to have beaten off three other drivers only to agonisingly spin just two corners from home while lapping a slower car, leaving the way open for Italian Enrico Spaggiari to steal a last gasp win. Spaggiari’s comment “this was the most beautiful race of my life” seemed somehow to reflect perfectly the feelings of every competitor to have taken part in the Classic over the weekend.
Nick Wigley, Event Director enthused: “We confidently believe this to have been the biggest motor racing event ever staged anywhere in the world with more than 1000 race entries from all over the globe. From the moment the event began on Friday morning we have been blessed with glorious weather and, thanks to some terrific music acts and non-stop entertainment on the Silverstone infield, also a wonderful festival atmosphere.
“It has been great to see vast numbers of people, especially families, arriving and experiencing the Classic. The feedback has been nothing but positive and already we are working on plans for 2012’s Classic when we will aim to make the event even more special for our competitors, exhibitors, media and visitors.”
Results from Sunday
Stirling Moss Trophy: 1 Ewan McIntrye (Lotus 15), Jon Minshaw/Martin Stretton (Lister Jaguar), Philip Walker/Danny Wright (Lotus 15)
RAC Tourist Trophy: 1 Stuart Graham/Richard Attwood (Aston Martin DB4), 2 Carlo Vogele/Willie Green (Ferrari 330 GTO), 3 Wolfgang Friedrichs/David Clark (Aston Martin DP212)
Historic Formula Junior: 1 Sam Wilson (Cooper T59), 2 Jon Milicevic (Cooper T59), 3 James Murray (Lola Mk 5A)
Big Engine Touring Cars: 1 Leo Voyazides (Ford Falcon), 2 Patrick Watts (Ford Mustang), 3 John Young (Ford Falcon)
Group C Endurance: Bob Berridge (Mercedes C11), 2 Hideki Yamamuchi (Nissan R90C), Andy Meyrick (Spice SE89C)
E-Type Challenge: 1 Jon Minshaw, 2 Martin O’Connell, 3 Andrew Smith
GP Masters F1 1966-85: 1 Andy Meyrick (March 761), 2 Steve Hartley (Arrows A4), Bill Coombs (Tyrrell 009)
Front-engine GP pre-1961: 1 Philip Walker (Lotus 16), Rod Jolley (Lister Jaguar ‘Monzanapolis’), 3 Michael Steele (Connaught C type)
World Sports Car Masters: 1 Oliver Bryant (Lola T70 Mk3B), 2 Simon Hadfield/Leo Voyazides (Lola T70 Mk3B), 3 Manfredo Rossi di Montelera (Abarth Osella PA1)
Rear-engine GP pre-1966: 1 Enrico Spaggiari (Cooper T53), 2 Rod Jolley (Cooper T45/51), 3 Roger Wills (Cooper T51)