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The Silverstone Classic 2008

Audi Quattro S1 Really Flying
Awesome Audi Quattro S1 Really Flying

I like to think of us DA-ers as the good guys, fighting against the forces of tedium and drudgery that modern motoring is in danger of becoming. Well a few weeks ago I found myself in Nirvana surrounded by like-minded people and cars to make your heart beat a little faster and make you wish the lottery fairy would visit on a frequent basis. The event - the Silverstone Classic.

25 Years of the Lotus Seven Club
25 Years of the Lotus Seven Club

In the past few years it had become the poor relative of Goodwood’s twin events but this year there was a real spark. The paddock had been cleared of motorhomes and packed with stunning racing machinery from the pre-war era to ’80s turbo F1 cars. The skies where filled with classic planes, aerobatic displays, wing walkers and fly pasts from the Battle of Britain Hurricane, Spitfire and the glorious sounding P51 Mustang. The Car Clubs responded with a great turnout, their banners fluttering in the breeze. This years featured marques were Lotus, celebrating 60 years of mostly brilliant cars, and the Lotus Seven Club, popping the corks to mark 25 years since the club was founded.

What was so enjoyable was the access to cars like the GT40, Masserati 250F´s, Lolas, Chevrons. You can peer inside these cars and look at where your heroes - Moss, Stewart, Senna etc.. - worked their magic. Every turn in the paddock unearthed another treasure - a Cobra, nose to tail with a C Type Jag, a Ferrari 512 Le Mans racer rubbing shoulders with a humble MGB... this is what heaven must be like.

They may have been old cars but the racing belied their years - the sight of a little 1200cc Lotus Eleven getting the better of lightweight E Types & Cobras as they drifted through Beckett´s - the smell of hot mineral oil wafting in on the breeze - this was fantastic. I got goose bumps at the sound of the blood curdling yowl generated by the ´70s and ´80s F1 cars as they thundered down the start finish straight, the staccato double crack of a Cosworth DFV as the driver executed another down change cutting through the heat of the summer. This was special, looking round the faces of my fellow petrol-heads suggested that they too were experiencing a near spiritual moment.

The weekend was made perfect by the Slowly Sideways Rally Boys. To quote from their website "Slowlysideways GB is not a club or an organisation but a group of good friends with a determination to see that their cars are not lost to history and the inevitable museum collections". I enjoy motor racing but my first love is rallying and this group of enthusiasts gave demonstration runs in rally cars from the humble Citroen GS to the fire-breathing Audi Quattro S1 on a special stage constructed at the end of the National Straight. You could get so close, in fact the driver positively encouraged you to get involved, and once they had finished their runs they came and chatted with the crowd talking you through the course, pulling each others legs about over-cooking it or going the wrong way round the oil drums marking out the course.

Rothmans MkII Escort
Rothmans MkII Escort

It was great to see the MKII Escort in the Rothemans livery of Ari Vatenan being driven oh so sideways by Alan Watkins and the sheer violence of the Group B Peugeot 205-16, 64R Metro and RS200 but one car shone and judging by the smiles on the kids faces around us, it was the crowd´s favourite - John Hanlon´s ex Pike´s Peak S1 Quattro. To see this animal up close and watch the sheer speed it attained in such a short distance sent shivers down the spine. The shriek from the turbo, the short sharp chuff of the dump valve - it was the sound that changed the face of rallying. That off-beat, 5 cylinder bark brought back memories of RAC rallies of the past but this was no pussy footing amble in the hot sunshine, the clatter of the gravel torn from the road surface and hurled against the Armco reminded you why these cars were the bad boys of Motorsport - loved and feared in equal measure.

Oh it was so intoxicating and the very essence of why I love cars, why I admire the brilliant engineers who bring us these fabulous creations and worship the drivers who make them dance for our entertainment. Don´t pencil the Classic in your diary next July, use a permanent marker because you don´t want to miss it! Nick.

More Photos

The Paddock
41 Images

Link to 2008 Silverstone Classic Paddock Photos

Classics in Action
32 Images

Link to 2008 Silverstone Classic Action Photos

Lotus Seven Club
5 Images

Link to Austin Healey Club Championship Race

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