2013 Silverstone Classic Report
All that in one single event
- Mattijs Diepraam (words & pictures)
- August 8, 2013
- Goodwood - The roots deliver the goods, 2012 Circuit Revival Meeting report, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Le Mans - A legendary challenge, 2013 Le Mans Legend report, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Monaco - The full Monte, a report on the 2008 Grand Prix Historique de Monaco, by Mattijs Diepraam/Frank van de Velde
- Spa - Agreeable circumstances, 2011 Spa Six Hours report, by Mattijs Diepraam/Frank van de Velde
Wolfgang Friedrichs, Benjamin Eastick/Michael Quinn
Aston Martin DBR1, Jaguar D-type
2013 Silverstone Classic, Stirling Moss Trophy
If there is one word to describe the Silverstone Classic, it’s ‘big’. This year, the world’s most varied historic motor racing festival attracted some 90,000 spectators who came to watch 1,113 entries take to the circuit in 20-odd races.
Every two years at the Le Mans Classic, you will see the world’s most amazing Le Mans cars. The bi-annual Monaco GP Historique amasses the best of 1947 to 1985 Formula 1 cars. The Goodwood Revival will offer single-seater, GT and touring car glory from 1948 up to 1966. Apart from these three jewels in the historic motor racing crown, the smaller festivals staged by organisers such as Masters Historic Racing, Motor Racing Legends and the HSCC offer fields that on occasion will combine with Group C or the Historic Grand Prix Car Association at events such as the Spa Six Hours and the Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.
The difference with the Silverstone Classic is that it has all that in one single event – and more. According to organiser Nick Wrigley it’s an important raison d’être for his event. He wants absolutely everything and he gets absolutely everything. GT grids of over 50 cars, Cosworth-era F1 grids of over 30 cars, and Formula Fords, Formula 5000s and Super Touring machines to flock around the more usual choice of historic single-seaters and tin-tops. So the Silverstone Classic is Le Mans, Monaco, Goodwood, Spa and the Nürburgring combined, entry-wise at least, all squeezed into one action-packed summer weekend in July.
Silverstone Classic organiser Nick Wrigley wasn't watching from the sidelines. (photo 8W)
Still the Silverstone Classic isn’t mentioned in the same breath as the Le Mans Classic, Monaco GP Historique or the Revival. There is one big reason: atmosphere. On such a big track, with so many wide open spaces, it’s hard to feel snug and comfortable anywhere. The huge Wing building, with its reflecting windows, isn’t really helping either. It was easy to get hot though, for cars as well as drivers, mechanics and spectators alike, as the sun scorched down relentlessly during this edition, apart from the rain-hit Saturday evening, which soon turned into the usual Silverstone deluge. Then there’s the fact that due to the huge amount of entries, teams have to be divided between the International Paddock (the new paddock area at the back of the new start-and-finish complex) and the National Paddock (behind the old pits between Woodcote and Copse). Because of the huge distance between them it’s a long walk. There is a bus service connecting the two paddocks, but coming from the car park there is no easy access to either of them – track-crossing tunnels dearly missing beneath both straights in front of the pits. It’s a pain in the neck for the teams as well, especially for those with multiple cars entered to take part in races ‘staged’ from both the International and National paddocks. Mechanics need quite some stamina to get through the weekend.
Up close and personal: sharing a laugh and a beer with Abarth drivers Jasper Izaks and Paul Hocking. (photo 8W)
So the warm feeling of history surrounding you at Le Mans, Monaco and Goodwood seems to go missing in many places around the very much revamped Silverstone. But if you go out looking for it, it’s still there, fortunately. The easy place to look for it in the back part of what is now called the National paddock, which is by now looking gloriously outdated. In the cramped garages housing the cars from the minor formula as well as some of the touring cars, the friendly chaos is still there for even the blind to smell. But if you stop allowing your prejudice against the track’s modern facilities to take over your emotions, you will find it’s equally present in the other garages as well, as it is on the other side of the dummy grid areas, tucked away in transporters and hiding beneath tents and awnings. Here, the sheer size of the Silverstone Classic is working in its advantage. With 1,000-plus cars entered, there is so little space for each and everyone of them that in the cramped surroundings you are practically forced to share a bit of banter with the drivers and chat with the mechanics. You will literally trip over them. Apart from the impossibility to see such a wealth and variety of cars anywhere else in the world, that is what makes the Silverstone Classic a visit worth your while. It does have atmosphere – you just need to dive into it.
The 'cheap' end of the National paddock, with its relatively old garages were the easy place to look for atmosphere. As would be the Formula Ford BBQ later on... (photo 8W)
Also contributing to the atmosphere are the car clubs, who are not just responsible for a large part of the spectator figures but also for bringing their prides and joys by the dozens, crowding the infield parking areas with endless rows of Ferraris, Lambos, Astons, Jags and Healeys. Together, they form a glorious sight. At the Silverstone Classic, you would have to be clinically depressed to be swamped by a feeling of boredom.
Classic car clubs, such as the Morgan sports car club here, add to the atmosphere of the event, bringing dozens and dozens of wonderful cars. (photo 8W)
And the racing? Most of that was epic too. The new Classic lap record set by Nic Minassian in the amazing Jaguar XJR14 was impressive, as was his dominance, for once in 2013 denying the Berridge/Evans Mercedes C11 a win in Group C. Naturally, lots of entertainment was provided by the touring car boys, Leo Voyazides taking his Ford Falcon to two more wins in the pre-66 category, twice beating Henry Mann’s Ford Mustang, while Rob Huff came out on top in a spectacular battle amongst the Minis. The U2TC race’s residing world touring car champion was Andy Priaulx in his BMW 1800 TiSA, but again Leo Voyazides cleaned up here, aided by Simon Hadfield in their Lotus Cortina.
The Duke of Kent (shown around by none other than JYS) and Andy Priaulx were among the off-track and on-track celebs to honour the venue with their presence. (photo 8W)
Huff and Priaulx were to be upstaged in showmanship by their relatively modern-day colleagues in the Super Touring race, though, where one motto certainly applied: if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing. Especially in the final laps, the race was a cracker, always looking to end in tears for some of the protagonists up-front. And so it did for Patrick Watts in the Peugeot 406 and Stuart Whyte in the Honda Accord, leaving Neil Smith’s Alfa Romeo 156 the win. Frank Wrathall’s Cavalier finished second but went one better on Sunday.
Super Touring needle and the damage done: for Patrick Watts and his Peugeot 406 the Saturday race ended in tears. (photo 8W)
The inevitable duo of Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield kept their 100% record in FIA Historic Sportscars by once again winning in their Lola T70 Mk3B. Many eyes, however, were on Carlos Monteverde’s beautiful ex-Herrmann/Attwoord Porsche 917, which with usual team mate Gary Pearson went on to finish third. Voyazides and Hadfield didn’t go unchallenged, however. Martin Stretton had to retire early on with a broken wishbone while solo driver Nick Tandy was ahead of Voyazides before the pitstops. After those, Hadfield proved unstoppable, though.
Martin and Hugh Angle were probably pretty pumped up when they got underway in the Masters Sportscars race.
The late-Saturday slug match for pre-66 GT cars was supposed to deliver on atmosphere by virtue of being an evening race back-lit by fifty shades of orange from a slowly setting sun, but, as it was, the second deluge that hit the circuit – the first one had caused the HGPCA pre-66 race to be abandoned – turned the showcase race into a struggle of gargantuan proportions. A totally different type of atmosphere! Graeme Dodd was the early leader when the track was still wet from the first thunderstorm but a fresh shower transformed the outlook of the race when the safety car came out and drivers grabbed the opportunity to hand over their cars to their relief pilots. John Pearson profited by pitting early in his E-type, allowing brother Gary to still head the queue behind the safety car after most other cars had come in the lap after. Ed Morris in the lightweight Elan starred by making good use of the circumstances and keeping many more powerful cars at bay for second place.
Graeme Dodd was the early leader in the all-wet pre-66 GT race. (photo 8W)
Ollie Bryant, meanwhile, won a cracking Stirling Moss Trophy race in his Lotus 15. There was mid-race panic when an oil patch at Copse threw several drivers in a spin but fortunately everyone failed to hit anything or anyone else.
The Minshaw Maserati Birdcage at full tilt through Copse during the Stirling Moss Trophy race. (photo 8W)
Apart from Voyazides and Hadfield, Gary Pearson was another have-it-all at the Classic. Sharing a Ferrari 250 GT SWB with Jackie Oliver, he also won Sunday’s RAC TT race. Again teaming up with brother John in their Jaguar D-type Gary had already taken the Woodcote Trophy for pre-56 sports cars in the morning, fending off the C-type of John Young and Chris Ward in the narrowest of finishes.
Rain stopped play in Saturday's HGPCA pre-66 race. (photo 8W)
In FIA HFO Michael Lyons grabbed another double in his RAM Williams FW07 but it was Steve Hartley who shone with what could hardly be called a Sunday drive when in the second race of the weekend he fought his way up to third from 21st on the grid. In his Arrows A3, he had been in the wars on Saturday when his mighty battle for second place with Simon Fish’ Ensign N180 came to a premature end at Becketts on the final lap, while the two were closing in on the leading Lyons. Michael Lyons also did the double in the Peter Gethin Trophy for F2/F5000 cars, using his Lola T400 F5000 cars to twice beat Mark Dwyer’s March 782 F2.
Michael Lyons started at the front in his RAM Williams FW07 and stayed there in both FIA HFO Masters races. (photo 8W)
In his bellowing Scarab, Julian Bronson beat the Dino of Tony Smith and the Tec-Mec of Tony Wood in the pre-61 HGPCA race on Saturday, while beating Wood and Rod Jolley’s Lister ‘Monzanapolis’ on Sunday. Jason Minshaw – now also applying himself to single-seaters – was victorious in both pre-66 races, using his BT4 to beat Jonathon Hughes (Cooper T53) and Peter Horsman (Lotus 18/21) on Saturday, flagged off after four laps because of the sudden no-holds-barred downpour. Starting from pole, Minshaw went on to defeat Miles Griffiths (Cooper T51) and Hughes again on Sunday, in a proper nine-lap race.
Fred Harper in the amazing Kurtis 500 flying through Abbey in the HGPCA pre-61 race. (photo 8W)
Andrew Hibberd, Sam Wilson and Jon Milicevic were the usual suspects at the head of the Formula Junior field, with Hibberd coming out on top on Saturday. Sam Wilson changed the order on Sunday, leading Hibberd, with another third for Milicevic. In the Formula Ford events, all eyes were on Tiff Needell and his prize-winning car – the story of legends, of course – but it was Callum MacLeod who came out on top in his Merlyn Mk20, repeating the same form on Sunday.