Welcome to Who? What? Where? When? Why? on the World Wide Web. Your comments, criticism and suggestions: editors#8w.forix.com (replace # with @).
8W is forix.autosport.com's motorsport history section and covers the drivers, cars, circuits, eras and technology that shaped the face, sounds and smells of motor racing.

2023 Silverstone Festival report
New name, same old format for success


Related articles


Steve Brooks


Peugeot 90X




2023 Silverstone Festival (August 25, 2023)

Steve Brooks, Peugeot 90X, 2023 Silverstone Festival

Despite its new name, the Silverstone Festival in 2023 went on to use the successful concept that it has exploited in all its years as the Silverstone Classic and later the Classic. The split morning and afternoon paddocks were back, as were trusty promoters Masters Historic Racing, Motor Racing Legends, the Historic Grand Prix Car Association, the Formula Junior Historic Racing Association as well as the hosting HSCC. High-profile demos once again included a programme catering to a family day out, with lots of infield activity and three nights of concerts to end each day of racing. We were there for the competitive element, however, and with packed entries – as has always been the custom at Silverstone – the races proved to be highly entertaining on a weekend of changeable weather conditions.

Michael Lyons, Lotus 92, 2023 Silverstone Festival

Michael Lyons gambled on slick tyres on a damp track and was suitably rewarded with a crushing win in the second Masters Racing Legends race. (photo 8W)

Once again, the Masters Racing Legends for Formula One cars from 1966 to 1985 formed a pair of highlights twice scheduled at 'prime time' on Saturday and Sunday. The entry number hit the 30-mark, so one car more than at Zandvoort, but due to various breakdowns in qualifying and even on the Thursday test day, the actual number of competing cars did not rise above the record of 29 set at Zandvoort.

The first race was plagued by two safety cars, but the restart after the first safety car did bring the – provisional – decision, as Mike Cantillon guided his Williams FW07C from fourth to first place in one lap to take the win. At least, that's what he thought he did, since afterwards it was discovered that his rear-wing setting was illegal, an omission fully admitted by his mechanic who had forgotten to take the measurements. Sadly for the Irishman, it earned him an embarrassing disqualification. As a result, victory went to Ken Tyrrell yet again, having started from pole in his Tyrrell 011. Setting that pole time had already been a huge satisfaction for the American amateur in a field with a host of professionals and experienced driver-preparers, and now he had taken his third win on the trot, having won twice at Zandvoort already.

Christophe d'Ansembourg, 2023 Silverstone Festival

Christophe d'Ansembourg thoroughly enjoyed racing with both his sons during the weekend. (photo 8W)

On Sunday, the track was still wet after one of the many brief but heavy rain showers that hit the track all day. On one side of the circuit, however, it was virtually dry, so Michael Lyons' gamble to fit slick tyres worked out particularly well. His Lotus 91, after a cautious start on the wetter bits, drove to the front within the space of a few corners and then disappeared from sight. Lyons had already won the HSCC Thundersports race on Saturday morning when with his Ibec 308M he stayed well clear of Dan Eagling's Royale RP17.

Meanwhile, the pre-78 class in F1 proved to be another titanic battle between former champion Nick Padmore (Lotus 77) and young property manager Matt Wrigley (Penske PC3). As an amateur, Wrigley is giving his professional rival a hard time this year – at Zandvoort, the Penske managed to stay ahead of him. So this time Padmore had pull out all the stops to bag two very closely fought over wins.

Assegai, Walker-Climax, 2023 Silverstone Festival

Two of the rarest pre-66 Formula One machines - the South African Alfa-engined Assegai and the unraced-in-period Walker-Climax. (photo 8W)

In the HGPCA's older F1s, Will Nuthall was heading for another win on Saturday but when his Cooper T53 broke down two laps before the end, Charlie Martin in a similar Cooper gratefully accepted the gift. On Sunday, Martin led from start to finish. Among the front-engined cars, John Spiers ruled on the first day, but the next day his Maserati 250F slid off the track on the opening lap. Spiers fought back to hit the front again, but in the end was unable to put up a defense against Mark Shaw's Scarab-Offenhauser.

Both days were opened as usual by the Formula Juniors – and once again they gave the crowd enough reason for having set their alarm clock really early on both morning. Two hugely spectacular races involving no fewer than 53 cars were concluded with victories by Sam Wilson, who in his Lotus 20/22 battled superbly with Alex Ames' Brabham BT6 on Saturday and beat Horatio Fitz-Simon's Lotus 22 by a moustache length the size of 21 hundredths on Sunday, with Ames and young American Tim De Silva's BT2 following closely. The spectators could only exhale once the flag had dropped.

Formula Junior paddock, 2023 Silverstone Festival

The Formula Junior Historic Racing Association knows how to make their fans happy - their traditional post-race roll-out is unequalled in the paddock. (photo 8W)

The remaining formula cars took off in the hotch-potch field of Formula Libre cars, with which the HSCC restored an old tradition. Henry Chart's F5000 won both times, on Saturday by a wide margin over Christian Pittard's Chevron B28 F2. On Sunday, however, Chart had a considerably harder time with another F2, Andy Smith’s March 782 that was unable to start on Saturday. Chart’s Trojan T101 kept just a single tick ahead of the March. The stunning fact was that Chart was actually supposed to drive a Formula Atlantic Modus before that broke down on the test day. His preparer Simon Hadfield quickly retrieved the Trojan from his workshop to allow Chart to still have something to race – in fact, this was his first-ever race mileage in an F5000! F3s and Formula Ford 2000s completed the entry.

Steve Brooks in his Peugeot 90X prevailed to complete two more Masters Endurance Legends wins, but the Briton wasn’t the fastest man on track. Young American Tim De Silva was a man unleashed in his Pescarolo-Judd 01, but shared the car with his slightly slower dad Harindra. As a result, he came up a few seconds short at the end. On Sunday, Brooks faced most opposition from Peugeot rival Stuart Wiltshire, especially after Harin De Silva inadvertently got tapped from behind on the opening lap by from Christophe d'Ansembourg in the Lola-Aston Martin DBR1-2. The Belgian finished third, having finished fourth behind Wiltshire on the previous day.

Alex Brundle, Ferrari 512M, 2023 Silverstone Festival

Alex Brundle along with Gary Pearson brought the Ferrari 512M back on top in historic sportscar racing. (photo 8W)

The biggest sports car spectacle, however, was to be seen in the Masters Sports Car Legends. No fewer than two Ferrari 512Ms attempted to knock the Lola T70 Mk3B off its historic sports car racing throne – and one succeeded rather brilliantly. It was not the Harts' Ferrari built by renowned Ferrari specialists Roelofs Engineering, as father David and son Olivier each a mistake that dropped them well down. Instead, Gary Pearson and Alex Brundle shone in their battle against the Lolas, especially Olly Bryant’s example, resulting in a historic victory in historic motorsport comparable to Ferrari’s sportscar comeback at Le Mans earlier this year.

In Masters Gentlemen Drivers, Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie reigned supreme as ever, as their Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé along with the Harts' example went up against the TVR Griffiths of John Spiers/Nigel Greensall, Mike Whitaker, John Davison and Harry Barton. Thomas (now truly almost as quick as his mentor Lockie) did the heavy lifting against professional driver Greensall, after which Lockie brought the car home in a sensible and controlled manner. Greensall did win the next day in the event-closing HSCC Road Sports Trophy, sharing a Cobra roadster with Kevin Kivlochan.

Masters Gent Drivers grid, 2023 Silverstone Festival

The Masters Gent Drivers race was oversubscribed, with the full number of 61 cars taking to the grid. (photo 8W)

Sunday's morning highlight was the combined Woodcote Trophy and Stirling Moss Trophy, Motor Racing Legends’ showpiece event in which Olly Bryant in his Lotus 15 sealed the win after all, as he beat Kiwi Roger Wills in a similar Lotus. Meanwhile, brothers John and Gary Pearson won the Woodcote Trophy with their Jaguar D-type, and in doing so, the renowned preparer and the tyre king added another win to their previous victory in the Big Cat Challenge that was also promoted by MRL. In fact, this became a 1-2 for Pearsons Engineering, as the second E-type with Gary Pearson and Alex Brundle finished second.

Craig Wilkins proved inimitable in the Masters GT Trophy, which boasted an encouragingly large entry with 30 cars. With just one race on the programme this time, series leader Wilkins’ efforts yielded yet another victory, as he finished first of a gaggle of Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evos that monopolised the podium.

Ecurie Ecosse Vauxhall Vectra, 2023 Silverstone Festival

The Historic Touring Car Trophy turned into an extremely wet affair. (photo 8W)

Against the wealth of Super Trofeo and Porsche Cup machinery, Tim Kuijl in his BMW E46 320i could do nothing but finish last in the GT Trophy, but the Dutch-Flemish Kuijl family had a joker among its cards, as through a stroke of luck with the safety car Wim Kuijl’s Ford Capri beat the big guns in a very wet and interrupted Historic Touring Car Trophy race, eventually finishing over 43 seconds ahead of Max Goff’s Sierra Cosworth RS500 – helped somewhat by the fact that the leading Skyline of Andy Middlehurst and James Hanson stumbled shortly before the end.

Sam Tordoff nailed victory In the weekend's other big touring car race. His Ford Falcon Sprint has won in the Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars before this year, but this time it wasn’t gifted to him. Or in fact, it was, as his JRT teammate Michael Whitaker Jnr was still in the lead with a few minutes remaining on the clock when his Ford Mustang’s diff exploded in spectacular fashion. This allowed Tordoff to avoid a late-race battle with Whitaker and claim the spoils.

The full event gallery