If I am honest the first corner was close to terrifying. I hadn’t expected such a small, old car to have so much grunt. We accelerated out of the Silverstone pits and into Abbey at much higher speeds than the Highway Code suggests is suitable for approaching a corner. I was in one of the cars that will be competing in the Silverstone Classic in July, the world’s biggest festival of classic and historic cars. It was a snug, powerful 1966 Turner – an uncommon make produced in Wolverhampton between 1951 and 1966. Driven with verve by Ken Pritchard Jones it stuck to the asphalt superbly and reached well over double the speed-limit on the iconic Hangar straight.
Once I’d realised that Ken knew what he was doing and the car wasn’t going to flip over it was great fun. The skill in spotting the corner apex on the flat circuit, whilst dealing with the high acceleration and braking forces was quickly apparent. I advise everyone to buy an historic car and quickly enter one of the races in the Silverstone Classic.
But if you don’t have the time/money/inclination/knowledge/desire or ability to actually enter a race then you can still head to Silverstone from July 29-31 and enjoy the sights and sounds of historic motorsport. The paddocks are open so you can wander amongst the cars and speak to the drivers and mechanics. As well as the twenty races there will be 10,000 cars from clubs across the country on display, showing the beautiful and functional designs kept in tiptop condition by enthusiasts across the country.
It’s going to be quite a show. At the preview the paddock was full of Lamborghini Miuras which are celebrating their 50th birthday this year. There was also a stunning example of an AC ACE Bristol from 1958, getting a last minute fettle. During the show there will also be a live Range Rover restoration taking place, using only parts sourced from eBay!
And it’s not just racing and classic cars, even if I think it should retain that purity of purpose. The Classic is appealing to people who like their evenings noisy, with music over the weekend from bands including The Boomtown Rats, The Stranglers and Reef. There will also be plenty of family entertainment during the day including fair rides, aerial displays and live demos. There’s even going to be replica Spitfire that you can sit in! There will be parades of cars, and celebrations of various automotive milestones, such as 100 years of BMW manufacturing, and forty years since the UK launch of the Porsche 924. It is also 50 years since the inception of the Historic Sports Car Club itself which is organising the racing. Silverstone Auctions will be auctioning the usual impressive selection of cars and there will also be a chance to see an exhibition to James Hunt, 40 years after his World Championship victory.
But I’ll be going for the racing. There’s something refreshing and friendly about historic motorsport. You can see all the races here. They include Pre-66 Grand Prix cars, Classic GTs and Endurance legends. There will even be some motorbike action and – for the seriously brave – side-car racing. Ken Pritchard Jones will be racing in the International Trophy for Classic GT cars, so give him and the little Turner a cheer.