WORDS: ELLIOTT HUGHES | PHOTOGRAPHY: THE CLASSIC
The curtain came down on The Classic at Silverstone in Northamptonshire, UK on August 29, 2022, following three action-packed days of historic motor racing, live music and a variety of off-track attractions.
A record number of tickets were sold, as over 100,000 spectators flocked to sunny Silverstone in Northamptonshire for the event, which took place over the August bank holiday weekend for the first time.
Spearheading the event – which is the largest of its type in the world – was 20 competitive grids of machines that span the past 100 years of motor-racing history. Complementing the on-track action was extreme sports demos, Formula 1 displays, racing simulators and a dizzying variety of classic cars on show.
One of the most headline-grabbing highlights of The Classic was undoubtedly the presence of all seven of Lewis Hamilton’s championship-winning Formula 1 cars – a world first.
Another world first was the spectacular showcase of cars used in the filming of the latest 007 movie, No Time To Die. It is unlikely such a display will ever occur again, because each of the Bond cars are scheduled to cross the block in Christie’s Sixty Years of James Bond auction on September 15 to October 5 in support of various charities.
The introduction of Foodie Fest was another popular element of the event, which saw celebrity chefs such as Lesley Waters, Niall Kirkland and Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown conduct cookery classes. The presence of Jeremy Clarkson and his Diddly Squat Farm Shop’s pop-up store furthered The Classic’s culinary attractions.
Of course, The Classic was also blessed by the presence of several famous faces from the world of motor sport. Damon Hill honoured the 60th anniversary of his father’s first F1 title with BRM, while Derek Bell led an historic parade of legendary Group C cars to mark 40 years since Silverstone first hosted the category in 1982.
Bell’s Rothmans-liveried 962 was later awarded the Stuart Graham Scarf and Goggles Trophy that is annually given to the most admired car to appear on track over the course of the weekend. Car and motorcycle racer Stuart Graham presented his eponymous award alongside Derek Bell to the 962’s owner and founder of Eagle E-types, Henry Pearman.
The second Scarf and Goggles Trophy, named in honour of The Classic co-founder Mervyn Garton, was presented by his widow to the Race Sim and Pit Stop Challenge, a free attraction that lured in massive crowds of participants throughout the weekend.
The coveted Adrian Flux Car Club of the Show award was presented to the Cobra Replica Car Club, which was behind a fittingly noisy on-track parade of over 125 authentic and imitation Cobras that celebrated the model’s 60th anniversary. The curvaceous, limited-production DeTomaso P72 supercar bagged the Yokohama Legends prize.
Silverstone Auctions’ sale is always a keenly anticipated component of the event, and this year was no different. The sale attracted widespread media attention with the historic sale of Princess Diana’s former Ford Escort RS Turbo for the incredible sum of £722,500 ($833,655) after buyer’s fees.
Other strong performers at the auction block were an ex-Richard Burns 2001 Subaru Impreza WRC (£392,500/$452,885), 1961 Jaguar E-type Series 1 (£270,250/$311,827), 1996 Subaru 22B (£182,250/$210,288) and 1989 Lamborghini Countach (£275,625/$318,029).
The racing proved to be just as head turning as the auction results. The first day of racing saw a vast grid of over 50 effervescent Formula Juniors from the 1950s and 1960s take part in thrilling wheel-to-wheel action.
Following the energetic display put on by the Formula Juniors was the Tony Dron Memorial Trophy for MRL Historic Touring Cars, which was named in honour of the late journalist and touring car racer who sadly passed away last year.
Drama promptly ensued in the Tony Dron Memorial Trophy, with the 1990 Nissan Skyline of Andy Middlehurst claiming victory after a first-lap collision involving several cars thwarted the threat of a Ford Sierra RS500.
Rounding out the Saturday morning race card was the MRL Pre-War Sportscars BRDC 500. This race saw cars nearing 100 years old duel for superiority around the 3.66-mile circuit, with the 1928 Frazer Nash TT Replica shared by the seasoned duo of Gregor Fisken and Patrick Blakeney Edwards taking the top step of the podium.
Saturday afternoon’s races proved to be similarly soaked in adrenaline. It began with a gigantic grid of more than 60 cars vying for position in the International Trophy for Classic GT Cars (Pre ’66).
The near-hour-long race was eventually won by the 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona of Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie, who narrowly took the chequered flag ahead of a 1965 Jaguar E-type driven by James Dodds.
Olympic cycling legend and former Le Mans 24 Hours driver Sir Chris Hoy also made an appearance in the International Trophy, and proved to be competitive alongside teammate Marco Attard in a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
The Yokohama Trophy for Masters Sports Car Legends brought Saturday’s race card and came to a dramatic close when Tom Bradshaw’s 1971 Chevron B19 limped across the line from the lead with broken front suspension.
Bradshaw’s stricken car should have relinquished the win to Alex Brundle’s 1971 Lola T70 Mk3B, but he was forced to retire from the race on the penultimate lap. Dean Forward was awarded the Bremont Classic Moment for an imperious drive to fifth place after starting at the back of the grid in his Lola T70.
Sunday morning saw the Formula Juniors kick off the action for a final time, followed by the MRL Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy and Stirling Moss Trophy, both of which were won by Roger Mills aboard his 1958 Lotus XV and the 1955 HWM he shared with Gregor Fisken and Martin Stretton.
The trio of Mills, Fisken and Stretton sealed their place on the top step of the Woodcote Trophy podium by the narrowest of margins, sneaking ahead of Gary and John Pearson’s Jaguar D-type by a mere bonnet’s length.
Next up was the second HSCC Historic F2 race, which was won again by Ben Mitchell. James Cottingham and Harvey Stanley were the next to join Mitchell in the winners’ circle after claiming Sunday’s Royal Automobile Club Historic Tourist Trophy (MRL Pre-’63).
Mike Cantillon’s Williams FW07C poetically triumphed in both Frank Williams Memorial Trophy Races for Masters Racing Legends, and he was evocatively presented with his silverware by Frank Williams’ two sons, Jonathan and Jamie.
Will Nuthall emerged as the other historic F1 winner, and repeated Cantillon’s feat of winning both HGPCA Pre-’66 Grand Prix Car races behind the wheel of his 1960 McLaren Cooper T53 that was piloted in period by the great Bruce McLaren.
Jamie Constable found his own success in faster and more modern machinery, taking his Pescarolo LMP1 car to victory in the first Masters Endurance Legends category on Saturday. On Sunday it was Tim de Silva who took the plaudits in another Pescarolo LMP1, after pulling off a daring last-corner overtake on Mike Lyons’ Lola B12/80.
The HSCC Thundersports contest was dominated by the fearsome 1972 McLaren M8F CanAm car of Dean Forward and its all-powerful 8.0-litre V8 engine. However, a late retirement meant Forward was forced to hand the victory over to John Burton’s 1974 Chevron B26.
The Adrian Flux Trophy for Transatlantic Pre-’66 Touring Cars brought the weekend’s on-track action to a suitably dramatic conclusion, thanks to a talented grid containing the likes of Andy Priaulx and Steve Soper, and the thunderous soundtrack of American muscle cars. The 1964 Ford Falcon of Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie took the final win of the weekend.
“Once again, The Classic has served up a phenomenal festival weekend to a record crowd,” enthused 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.”
The Classic will return in 2023 on August 25 to 27 for another exciting bank-holiday weekend of historic motor sport. More information here.