Castle Combe circuit hosts its Bristol Forklifts Autumn Classic race meeting this weekend with a variety of historic racing and off-track events at the always welcoming Wiltshire circuit. Rare and much loved period race cars, huge displays of classic road cars, marshals in traditional white overalls and spectators making an extra effort to ‘look the part’, all add up to a fine autumnal day out.
As well as a varied programme of races encompassing everything from tiny 500cc single-seaters from the 1950’s to vintage pre-war behemoths and with a liberal helping of historic Touring Cars, the event’s paddock displays and Dream Garage should have enthusiasts salivating with some classic race cars on show.
New to the Classic this year is the HRDC’s Coys Trophy race for Touring Cars built between 1958 and 1966. This features the Terry Sanger Trophy in memory of the lovable and highly talented engineer and works race driver from Westwood, Bradford on Avon who was such an important figure at Castle Combe for decades.
The eclectic entry ranges from the Morris 1000 of musician Chris Rea to the mighty 4.7 litre Ford Falcon Sprint of Chris Clarkson which he finished second at last year’s Autumn Classic. This year he faces opposition from fellow West Countryman, Duncan Pittaway from Dundry, driving a 1965 5.3 litre Plymouth Barracuda. Enthusiastic former ITV F1 pundit, Tony Jardine, shares a Mini Cooper S in the 45-minute race.
The Silverline'Historic Formula Junior championship race, with well-known manufacturers’ cars such as the Lotus 20 of Painswick’s Peter Hawkey contrasting with such wonders as the Lightning Envoyette, Ausper and Envoy. The two surviving front wheel drive Bonds make an interesting talking point, having been rescued by Jon Goddard-Watts, the original factory driver and partner of Laurie Bond of three wheeler fame, who built and designed the cars. Originally there was only one factory car, the other having been rebuilt from spare parts by Andrew Tart, who will be at the wheel on the day.
Drivers in the Vintage Sports Car Club’s race for pre-war sports cars range from those out simply to enjoy their wonderful cars and others like last year’s winner, Patrick Blakeney-Edwards, who are deadly serious about winning. This year he returns with the unlikely ‘Ant Hill mob’ Frazer Nash Owlet which is always a delight to watch, having won in his FN Super Sports last year.
Event sponsor Julian Bronson from Bristol will be a busy man. He wields Steve Bicknell’s Healey 3000 in the Allan Cameron Healey Drivers Club Invitation Challenge Race for 3000’s, 100’s and special bodied Sprites. He will also be demonstrating his Scarab F1 car, fresh from its win in the Richmond Trophy race at the Goodwood Revival for front-engined Grand Prix cars. A second Scarab, owned by Eddie McGuire, the Australian TV presenter and businessman, will also appear.
The FiSCaR Inter-Marque race boasts a huge entry of variety and quality. All cars herald from the 1950’s and include such delights and rarities as a Fairthorpe Electron, Leco, Connaught ALSR and an Arnott Sports. Steve Boultbee Brooks should be a front runner in his Aston Martin DB3S, out on its new Mintex brake linings, and will also pilot the car in the Jon Gross Memorial Trophy race for Historic Aston Martins which he won last year.
Adding to the flavour is the Jaguar Enthusiast’s Club’s Norman Dewis Trophy race for pre '66 Jaguars and the Bristol Aeroplane Company Motor Sports Club Challenge Trophy race for 500cc Formula 3 cars.
Likely to be the star of the show is the unique Ferguson P99, one of only eight four wheel drive cars ever built and the only one by the manufacturer better known for making tractors. The car will be demonstrated by former World Sports Car champion Nick Adams, from Limpley Stoke who recently drove the car to fourth overall in the Richmond Trophy race at Goodwood. Adams began his career at Castle Combe in 1974 in a clubmans race in Arthur Mallock’s Mk14B.
Opening the event is David Brabham, the former F1 racer, Le Mans winner and son of legendary triple world champion,Sir Jack. He is planned to drive a Brabham BT11 with a 2.7 litre Climax engine, built for the Tasman series in the mid-1960s.
In the popular Dream Garage is a Cooper T53 with 2.5 litre Climax engine as used by Sir Jack to win the 1960 Formula One Championship and the ex-Graham Hill BRM P261. The ex-Stirling Moss Lotus 18 that won the Monaco Grand Prix in 1960 is another car with a prestigious former pilot on display.
Race day gets under way with qualifying from 08:30, the first race starting at 12:40.