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A theme that is rapidly developing in these updates is the use of the phrase ‘on-line’, and Royal Automobile Club’s 2020 Historic Awards were yet another event forced into a virtual format.
Notable historic winners were long time rally enthusiasts Peter and Betty-Ann Bonham, who jointly took the Lifetime Achievement award for more than three decades of involvement in the historic rallying community. Renowned for their willingness to help out other competitors, whether it be with Peter’s legendary ability to get a car running again, aided by his copious spares kit, and Betty-Ann’s unfailing positive attitude they have been an asset in everything they had competed in, most recently long-distance endurance rallies.
On the 2007 Peking to Paris event, they spotted a stranded Itala in the Gobi Desert, and with even Peter unable to repair a broken crankshaft, towed their rival for nine-hours, and numerous tow rope failures, before camping for the night…ironically only one sand dune away from the official night stop.
Competitive Event of the year went to the HSCC’s legends of Brands Hatch Super Prix in July 2020, which took place with a large entry and also under the new protocols required due to COVID, all in a time scale that would have been inconceivable in a normal season. MSV played their part in ensuring that everyone who attended Brands Hatch over the weekend was kept as safe as possible, and it was one of the first positive signs that we would see some racing in 2020.
The GT and Sports Car Cup, for period-specification cars from the 1950s and early ‘60s of a type which raced both internationally and in national, too the Race Series title Run by Flavien and Vanessa Marcais since 2007, the series was commended for not only the quality of its on circuit activities but also for the social side of the series – and the driving standards were praised in particular for the safe running of a race at Castle Combe last year in very wet weather.
ACO Virtual 917 Exhibition
Fairly obviously it is not just the UK on lockdown and events and venues across the globe are currently not open to the public. That is a bit of a pain if you have just gone to a lot of work preparing for a large audience, but Le Mans organisers the ACO have got round that problem by putting their new exhibition featuring the Porsche 917 online – or specifically on Youtube.
Two episodes are currently live, and while there is at present only a French narration, the automatic subtitles do a valiant job at translation for you and at the very worst you get to look at some stunning race cars. Just go to YouTube and search for the official 24 Hueres du Man channel and you will find the Expo Virtuelle Porsche 917 episode one there.
Race Retro Went Virtual
Similarly Race Retro, the always entertaining historic motorsport show held in February each year for 2021 went virtual, with the event’s social media channels featuring highlights of its 18-year history with video of events, interviews and action form its highly popular rally stage that often sees Group B cars in action.
Independent Goodwood Photographers Guild Online Exhibition
The move online is a sign of the times and something we could potentially see a lot of, even the Independent Goodwood Photographers Guild have moved their 2021 exhibition online, so go to www.igpg.photography to check out the images and vote for the picture of the year
New HSCC 80s Saloon Series
The HSCC have confirmed that they will be running four races for the new 1980’s Production Car Challenge this year, with the opener at Snetterton in April.
The series is open to cars with standard bodyshells and only minor modifications to engines and suspension, and as is usual in production series it will not be open to Caterhams or homologation specials for competition. Cars will be split into classes based on engine size, with a separate class for turbocharged cars, and will race on Motorsport UK approved treaded tyred.
The HSCC already run historic and 1970’s road sports series which are well supported, so this is a logical follow on and potentially offers an outlet for some great cars. Initially planned for 2020, that season has to be put on hold although a test race at Cadwell park last September featured a grid ranging from a Vauxhall Nova to an Audi Quattro.
I’m sure we all have a favourite 1980s car springing to mind, although I’m not sure the Cortina Mk4 I owned at that time will be featuring, but organisers are suggesting that suitable cars could include the Alfa Romeo GTV6, BMW 3-series, Ford Fiesta XR2, Honda CRX, Morgan Plus 4, Porsche 944, Suzuki Swift GTi, Toyota MR2 and VW Golf.
It is potentially a cheap and rewarding route into the sport with strict cost controls meaning entry level budgets, and we are always in favour of anything that spreads the appeal of motorsport.
Rallying Gets the Go Ahead
Earlier this month it was announced that Forestry England, the Government agency responsible for managing and promoting the nation’s forests, has agreed to allow allow rallying to take place between the trees through 2021.
The independent review was announced in 2020 to look at the balance between the widespread access that rallying has and the visitors in brings against its impact on the UJ’s forested land and the loose surface roads that are its big attraction for competitors.
After a period of consultation it was announced that access to the land will continue, along with works to make the forest roads more sustainable and alleviate their damage over time.
“The nation’s forests have in the past found themselves at the leading edge of motorsports in England,” said Mike Seddon, Forestry England’s chief executive.
“Our review has made it clear to me that we must take the opportunity to become leaders again.
A frequent visitor to the forest have been the popular British Historic Rally Championship, and while they didn’t run their series at all in 2020 it can be hoped that they will be able to do something this year, particularly in light of this news, plus Colin Heppenstall and his team were scheduled to run the Roger Albert Clark Rally in November this year, and that multi-day epic is a highlight of any historic off-road calendar.
Results of Artcurial Sale
While the Retromobile exhibition in Paris has been postponed, the associated sale by the Artcurial auction house went ahead, raising in excess of 18M Euros with some significant competition cars under the hammer.
Headline lot was the Matra MS 670 that won Le Mans in 1972 in the hands of Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo, and was then raced by Matra in the 1973 World Championship of Makes, taking a win at Zeltweg in the hands of Pescarolo and Gerald Larrousse.
The car was then a show car for Matra before entering their museum in 1976, finally taking back to eh track after a restoration in 2010. The car. Complete with Matra V12 engine, went for 6.9 million Euros, and is full running order, so hopefully will be a highlight of many a historic event if that is what the new owner is planning.
Also on sale were a collection of Group B rally cars, which went for widely varying prices showing the popularity – or maybe the scarcity – of certain models. It would seem that the entry level Group B car is the MG Metro 6R4, which went for 244K Euro, while a Ford RS200 did better at 381K Euro.
A gorgeous Martini liveried Lancia 037 could have been yours for 548k Euro, while it’s slightly newer stablemate the Lancia Delta Integrale was sold for 810K Euros. Unsurprisingly in a French sale there was great interest in a 1985 Peugeot 205 T16 Evo 2 – despite some slight confusion about its actual history due to the factory happily regularly swapping number plates between chassis at the time – which went for 977K Euros.
Star of the rally show was a 1988 Audi Sport S1 Quattro with no great rallying history – at least not according to the auctioneer’s notes – which went for an amazing 2million Euros, which makes you wonder what a Group B car with championship winning provenance would fetch!
Class Trophies Named After Drivers at Thruxton Historic Festival
An event we are already looking forward to is the popular Thruxton Historic Festival in June, and a highlight of that weekend is the Jochen Rindt Trophy, two races serving as a reminder of the golden days of major single-seater events at the Hampshire circuit and featuring single seat race cars in the spirit of Thruxton through the 60's 70's & 80's
The classes with the race will be competing for trophies named after racing notable, and it was nice to see the Formula Atlantic entries will be racing for the Ian Flux Trophy. The formula was popular in a number of parts of the world using a variety of engines, particularly the 1600cc Ford BDA.
A competitor in Formula Vee and F3 machinery, to the BTCC, scores of significant historic cars and everything in between Ian has a long history in UK motorsport going back to the Embassy Hill Formula One team in the 1970s, and is also recovering from an accident last November which left him unable to work, so nice to see a driver who has been a feature of British motorsport for many years recognised.
The FF200 class will be run in for the Adrian Reynard Trophy, remembering that designer and his range of very successful single-seaters, while the Formula Three
Masters Announce New Formula Atlantic Series
We mentioned that Formula Atlantic was adopted internationally, and Masters Historic Racing have announced a new series for the US called Formula Atlantic Plus with the opening round at Laguna Seca in May. The field is split into two classes, pre and post 1979, and is for pre-1986 Formula Atlantic cars, Formula Super Vee and even Formula Two.
The first Formula Atlantic race in the US was in 1969 so the formula has a long history there, so if the three events set for 2021 are well subscribed, there could be more in seasons to come.
A theme of the major historic events each year is how they celebrate particular and apt anniversaires. The Silverstone Classic this year is marking sixty years of the Mini with They are also marking fifty years of the Triumph Stag, Range Rover and Datsun 240Z, and even forty years of the DeLorean! There is also the delayed celebrations of 30 years of the Classic itself, which should have taken place last year but we can all guess the reasons why it didn’t.
The 12th Grand Prix de Monaco Historique is scheduled for the 23rd to the 25th of April this year and they will be marking the seventieth anniversary of Ferrari’s first Formulae One Grand Prix win when Froilan Gonzalez won the British Grand Prix at the wheel of a Ferrari 375, and the race as was at Silverstone so expect the Classic to pick up on that one!
There will be cars linked to the Italain marque in action, including an Alfa P3, and Scuderia Ferrari ran the works Alphas in the 1930s, a Dino 246, which was the last front-engined car to win a Grand Prix in the hands of Phil Hill at Monza in 1961, and several 312s, including two from the 1970s set to be driven by former Ferrari pilots Jean Alesi and Rene Arnoux.
And finally… we mentioned last time out that New Zealand Formula 5000 legend Ken Smith had entered the New Zealand Grand Prix, taking on the hot shoes despite being 79 and having won the event three times and raced in it against Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren back in the 1960s.
To use a cricket term, Ken didn’t really trouble the scorers during the race, being a second or so off the ultimate pace, but it was another of the ‘guesting’ drivers who took on the beat the local young hotshoes, NZ Touring Car ace and former Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen wining despite starting from the pitlane after a fire extinguisher issue.