This year the Silverstone Classic moved to a new date, the end-of-summer August Bank Holiday weekend, and this proved to be a major success with record ticket sales, packed grids and more fun-fuelled off-track displays and activities than ever before. In total, more than 100,000 people attended over the three days with more families taking advantage of a long weekend at The Classic than ever before.
The ‘Best of British’ bill featured no fewer than 20 incredible retro races spanning 10 decades of motorsport history enhanced by interactive driving experiences, breath-taking extreme sports demos, crowd-pulling Formula 1 displays, race sims, stunt shows plus thousands of glittering classic cars sparkling in the sunshine.
Stand out highlights from the show included all seven of Lewis Hamilton’s championship winning Formula 1 cars displayed together for the very first time and, in another world exclusive, a stunning showcase of James Bond cars (below).
The newly introduced Foodie Fest was also a big winner with masterclasses from celebrity chefs including Lesley Waters, Niall Kirkland and Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown. Another popular new attraction was Switch Live powered by myenergi, offering visitors an insight into the latest generation of electric and hybrid cars with test drives offered, too.
Petrolhead turned farmer Jeremy Clarkson was another famous TV face at The Classic (above). His renowned Diddly Squat Farm Shop had its first pop-up store at Silverstone while fellow car show presenter, Mike Brewer and Marc ‘Elvis’ Priestley, from the Discovery Channel’s globally successful Wheeler Dealers show, were sharing their passion and knowledge with the tens of thousands of enthusiasts.
Racing royalty were out in force, too. Damon Hill, the 1996 Formula One World Champion was at Silverstone to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his father’s first title which came in 1962 with BRM – the first British driver in a British car to take the top title.
Anthony Hamilton (below) also called into The Classic to see all seven of his son Lewis’ title winners.
Britain’s most celebrated sports car driver, Derek Bell, led an incredible parade of legendary Group C idols to mark the 40 years since Silverstone witnessed its first race for the cars back in 1982. The iconic blue and white Rothmans Porsche 962 Bell drove was awarded the Stuart Graham ‘Scarf and Goggles’ Trophy presented annually to what is judged to be the most admired car on track at The Classic. Bell joined Stuart Graham to present the trophy to arch Group C enthusiast, collector and racer Henry Pearman who helped to curate the incredible collection on show.
The second Scarf and Googles Trophy, named in honour of fellow founder of The Classic Mervyn Garton, was presented by Mervyn’s widow to the Race Sim and Pit Stop Challenge activity which was provided as a free attraction and saw huge queues of eager participants all weekend.
The Adrian Flux Car Club of the Show went to the Cobra Replica Club Cobra – a driving force behind an incredible track parade of more than 125 original and imitation models celebrating the idolised AC Cobra’s 60th birthday. The Yokohama Legends prize went to the limited-run De Tomaso P72 supercar (below).
An eclectic collection of great road and racing classics also came under the Silverstone Auctions’ hammer – the most notable lot being the unique black Ford Escort RS Turbo created specifically for the personal use of Diana, Princess of Wales which sold for an incredible £650,000. Yes you have read that right, £650,000. The new owner must have been very drunk or has way too much spare cash.
The feast of retro racing was every bit as eye-opening with 20 memorable showdowns staged over the weekend. Vast grids of 50+ jostling Formula Juniors from the late fifties and early sixties opened the track action in thrilling style on both days.
For Saturday’s packed programme, the Juniors were followed by HSCC Historic F2, the Tony Dron Memorial Trophy for MRL Historic Touring Cars and, the MRL Pre-War Sportscars ‘BRDC 500’ – with many of the cars dating back nearly 100 years, the BRDC 500 witnessed more than 30 of the event’s most venerable racing machines.
Victories in those three showdowns went to Ben Mitchell in a 1977 Martini MK19/20, the flame-spitting 1990 Nissan Skyline of Andy Middlehurst (after the Sierra RS 500 opposition was side-lined by a first corner coming together of multiple cars) and the 1928 Fraser Nash TT replica shared by a delighted Gregor Fisken and Pat Blakeney-Edwards.
The afternoon’s on track entertainment was equally spectacular. Notably an incredible grid of more than 60 cars lined-up for the prized International Trophy for Classic GT Cars (Pre ’66) – Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie winning the fiercely fought 50-minute encounter in their 1965 Shelby American Cobra Daytona, less than two seconds clear of James Dodds in his solo driven 1965 Jaguar E-type. Sir Chris Hoy, sharing the drive with Marco Attard, was also in the mix this year contesting the International Trophy in a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Saturday’s evening’s final race, the Yokohama Trophy for Masters Sports Car Legends, produced even more drama with Tom Bradshaw’s 1971 Chevron B19 staggering across the line with broken front suspension. Bradshaw’s late troubles should have handed victory to the hard-charging 1971 Lola T70 Mk3B of Alex Brundle but he was forced to retire to the pits on the penultimate lap allowing the hobbling Chevron to take the spoils. In the same race, Dean Forward propelled his similar Lola T70 from the back of the grid to finish a heroic fifth and claim a stunning Bremont watch recognising the Bremont Classic Moment
Sunday morning’s MRL Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy and Stirling Moss Trophy was won outright by Roger Wills in his 1958 Lotus XV with the 1955 HWM shared by Fisken and Martin Stretton pipping the similarly aged Jaguar D-type of John and Gary Pearson to top honours among the Woodcote Trophy runners by a bonnet length.
Ben Mitchell then made it two out of two in the second of the HSCC Historic F2 sprints before James Cottingham and Harvey Stanley teamed up in their 1961 Jaguar E-type to take top honours in the coveted Royal Automobile Club Historic Tourist Trophy (MRL Pre ’63).
Appropriately both Frank Williams Memorial Trophy Races for Masters Racing Legends were won by Mike Cantillon in his Williams FW07C – the car raced by Carlos Reutemann in the 1981 Las Vegas title decider – with the trophies awarded on Sunday by Sir Frank Williams’ two sons Jonathan and Jaime.
Will Nuthall also did the F1 double winning both HGPCA Pre ’66 Grand Prix Cars in his 1960 McLaren Cooper T53 raced by the legendary Bruce McLaren in period.
After Jamie Constable powered his Pescarolo LMP1 to victory in Saturday’s opening Masters Endurance Legends contest, Tim De Silva won Sunday’s follow-up encounter in another of the low-slung French prototypes, but only after a thrilling last corner lunge on Mike Lyons’ Lola B12/80.
Adding further spectacle to the show, Dean Forward seemed set to dominate the HSCC Thundersports contest before retiring his mighty 8-litre V8 powered 1972 McLaren M8F and handing the laurels to the far less potent 2-litre 1974 Chevron B26 of John Burton.
The weekend was bought to a rousing finale by the Adrian Flux Trophy for Transatlantic Pre ’66 Touring Cars. With tin-top legends such as Steve Soper and Andy Priaulx at the helm, the big American muscle cars put on a fabulous show. The 1964 Ford Falcon giving drivers Thomas and Lockie their second major success of the meeting.
“Once again, The Classic has served up a phenomenal festival weekend to a record crowd,” confirmed a happy Nick Wigley, CEO of The Classic promoter Goose Live Events. “There really was something special for absolutely everyone to enjoy in the wonderful sunshine at Silverstone over three memorable days of entertainment both on and off the Grand Prix circuit. As ever, the non-stop racing has been action-packed and the anniversary track parades equally outstanding – in many ways that’s a given. The addition of so much more family entertainment and attractions, though, has added yet another dimension to what’s now a real fun-fuelled summer bank holiday festival.”
Chart-topper Rick Astley brought the curtain down on The Classic after three days of incredible historic motor sport, epic family entertainment and live party music at a sunny Silverstone. Not my music style so I did not stay to watch, but I’m sure many did and had a great time.
Well done to all the people involved in this wonderful event, hats off to you, you made it a great day out and a great long weekend. Thanks.
For anyone that missed The Classic – or want to relive the on- and off-track excitement can find full coverage of all three day on the event’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/silverstoneclassic/ and also there will be two hours of highlights on ITV4 scheduled for September. A full record of results from The Classic is available here.