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Silverstone celebrates 70th anniversary


The Silverstone circuit in England hosted its first Grand Prix race in 1948 and will celebrate the 70th anniversary of that event during the Silverstone Classic vintage races July 20-22.

In addition to more than 80 vintage Grand Prix racing cars competing again at the track, a special collection of cars from that inaugural RAC International Grand Prix will be showcased. That inaugural event, promoted as “The Race on the Runways,” marked the opening of former military airfield as a motorsports venue.

Vintage racing, Silverstone celebrates 70th anniversary, ClassicCars.com Journal
Some Formula One racers participated in the 2017 Silverstone Classic, but more than 80 are returning to the historic track for its anniversary

That first race used wide runways and narrow perimeter roads with the circuit marked out by 170 tons of hay bales and 250 oil drums. On one long straightaway, drivers appeared to be racing toward each other from opposite ends of the layout.

More than 100,000 people attended the inaugural race, which was dominated by a pair of factory Maserati 4CLTs driven by Luigi Villoresi and Alberto Ascari.

Two years later, Silverstone hosted the first FIA World Championship (Formula One) race and has been the site of another 50 British Grands Prix.

“Seventy years of Grand Prix racing at Silverstone is an incredible landmark that presents us with a wonderful opportunity to recount the extraordinary story behind that first historic race in 1948 – it was one of the most important days in British motor sport,” Nick Wigley, director of the Silverstone Classic races, said in a news release.

“Under the  leadership of the legendary Jimmy Brown, a run down aerodrome was transformed into an international race circuit in little more than 10 hectic weeks, laying the foundations to what is now one of the most hallowed rounds on the Formula One calendar.” 

Vintage Grand Prix and F1 vehicles will be featured in several races at the Silverstone Classic.

Vintage racing, Silverstone celebrates 70th anniversary, ClassicCars.com Journal
The poster

Monterey Motorsports Reunion poster unveiled

Three iconic Datsun/Nissan racing vehicles are featured in the official poster for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, scheduled for August 23-26 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Artist Bill Patterson’s work showcases a BRE Datsun 510 driven to national championships in 1970-72 by John Morton, the IMSA GTP car in its 1988 livery and driven by Geoff Brabham, and the Nissan 300ZX that Steve Millen drove to IMSA titles in 1992 and 1994.

In addition to the official Reunion weekend, the track hosts the Monterey Pre-Reunion racing program August 18-19. 

Even sooner, however, there’s a Monterey Cars & Coffee at Laguna Seca scheduled for July 14, the same day as the Red, White and Blues Music Festival at the track.

Goodwood offers vintage race and rally experiences 

The Goodwood Festival of Speed (this year set for July 12-15) and the Goodwood Revival (September 7-9) are annual highlights on the collector car and vintage racing calendars, but the historic British facility also offers a perhaps less competitive vintage racing experience as a team-building or simply a group celebratory event. It’s the Revival Racing Experience, a group event involving a fleet of eight classic cars, 1950s and ‘60s-era sedans and GT cars that have been restored to their original racing setups.

“As you would expect from Goodwood, every aspect of the day is created with the finest attention to detail – from the 60s inspired interiors and music, through to the retro food and drink of the period,” the circuit said in its news release, adding that the day is a “brilliantly authentic, exhilarating and memorable experience where the true craft of driving a classic car can be mastered.”

The day includes a grid walk and car talk by the track’s chief instructor, use of either the Jackie Stewart Pavilion or Race Control Building, and a prize giving.

For details, visit the Goodwood website.

Or perhaps you prefer rally cars rather than road racers. Goodwood also offers a Classic Road Rally experience with a fleet of cars that include a 1965 Cortina GT, 1970 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750, 1972 BMW 1602 and 1968 E-type Jaguar, among others.

The rally route sends you out to explore “The South Downs” and ends with drivers taking home a souvenir Goodwood & The South Downs rally vehicle (license) plate.

For details, see the Goodwood Road Rally website.

Vintage racing, Silverstone celebrates 70th anniversary, ClassicCars.com Journal
Spectators watch the hill climb at Shelsley | Hill climb photos

Shelsley honors shared

Vintage racing, Silverstone celebrates 70th anniversary, ClassicCars.com Journal
The starting line at Shelsley

David Uren and Robert Kenrick shared “Man of the Meeting” honors at the recent Shelsley Walsh hill climb, a British event first contested 113 years ago.

Uren posted the best time of the day, climbing the hill in 23.53 seconds in his Gould 3.5 V8 in the morning session, and then being edged by just 0.01 seconds in the afternoon by Will Hall. 

“It means so much to me to take the Best Time here today as I’ve been coming her for so many years,” Uren was quoted in the event’s news release. “With the history that is embedded here it’s quite something to now have my name in the record books.”

Kenrick earned his share of the Man of the Meeting honors by once again breaking the 1100cc-class record, this year with a time of 24.96. 

Vintage racing, Silverstone celebrates 70th anniversary, ClassicCars.com Journal
Car at speed at Shelsley

French cars featured in Italian hill climb

Famed French racing cars will be featured June 29-July 1 in the 23rd annual Vernasca Silver Flag hill climb in Italy. More than 300 cars are entered in the competition which includes circuit races at the Riccardo Paletti track on June 29, followed by the hill climb event that runs between Castell’Arquato and Vernasca. 


Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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