Two big birthdays will be celebrated this summer at the annual Silverstone Classic vintage races in England as Bentley turns 100 years old and as the Ford Capri marks the 50th anniversary of its introduction.
Silverstone expects the largest grid of historic Bentley racing cars ever, with more than 30 set to compete for the Bentley Centenary Trophy for Pre-War Sports Cars. Also in that event will be period racers from Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Lagonda and others.
In addition to the cars in competition, there will be a special parade for Bentley cars and members of Bentley car clubs.
The 2019 Silverstone Classic is scheduled for July 26-28, just a few days past the centennial of the date — July 10, 1919 — when W.O. Bentley founded the company that bears his family’s name.
Driven by a group that became famous as the “Bentley Boys,” Bentley cars won the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times in a seven-year span from 1924-1930, including a 1-2-3 sweep of the podium in 1929.
“Those glorious tales of the big green Bentleys thundering through the French night are part of motor sport legend passed down through the generations,” said Nick Wigley, chief executive of Silverstone Classic. “Now we will be recreating some of that magic at sunset on Saturday at the Classic to celebrate what is a very special moment in Bentley’s remarkable lifetime.”
“This is such a significant anniversary – a once-in-a-lifetime celebration which is certain to appeal to all those with eligible Bentleys,” added Duncan Wiltshire, chairman of the Motor Racing Legends, which is organizing the Bentley racing centennial.
“As a result, we are expecting an enormous turnout and, by all probability, the biggest grid of racing Bentleys ever seen anywhere in the world.”
Owners of vintage Bentley racing cars aren’t the only ones celebrating the company’s 100th birthday. In March, Bentley will unveil a special Centenary Edition car at the Geneva Motor Show as part of its “Bentley’s Centenary — 100 Years of Extraordinary” birthday celebration theme.
‘Spicing’ up a 50-year anniversary
Also taking place during the Silverstone Classic vintage races this summer will be a special celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Ford Capri.
Ford launched the fastback coupe at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1969 and sold it as “The Car You Always Promised Yourself.” More than 2 million Capris were produced before production ended in 1986. The car was sold in the United States as the Mercury Capri.
“As well as finding huge favor in the showrooms, Capris were popular in motor sport – notably in Britain where they totally ruled the country’s premier touring car series after the bigger-engined American muscle cars were banned at the end of the 1975 season,” Silverstone Classic said in announcing that Gordon Spice, who drove Capris to 24 race victories and class championships five years in a row from 1976-1980, will present the Gordon Spice Trophy to the highest-placing Capri in Silverstone’s Historic Touring Car Challenge race, an event that will include Rover Vitesses, the car that finally overtook the Capris on the track, as well as later Sierra Cosworth RS500s.
“The Capri was very important to me,” Spice is quoted in the Silverstone news release. “The Capri was by far the easiest car I ever raced. There was absolutely nothing complicated about it — the rear-drive chassis was simple to tune, so it handled really, really well. Just a brilliant motor car.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have been given this honor,” added Spice, 78, who later won the Group C2 World Endurance Championship in cars built by his Spice Engineering firm. “I never miss the Classic; it’s one of my favorite race meetings of the year and it is always wonderful to see so many Capris still racing today – 50 years is a long time!”
In addition to the racing Capris, Silverstone will host a parade of Ford Capri owners clubs on the Sunday of the Classic weekend.
Goodwood adds Le Mans racers to Members’ Meeting
Goodwood’s 77th Members’ Meeting plans to export a little flavor of Le Mans when a group of Le Mans prototypes do high-speed demonstration runs at dusk on Saturday evening, April 6.
“In what is sure to create some of the most stunning photos to come from Goodwood in the modern era, the cars will run into the dusk on Saturday night, transporting spectators from the Lavant Straight to the Mulsanne,” Goodwood organizers said in their announcement.
The grid will include prototypes that have raced at Le Mans since 1993.
‘Edwardian leviathans’ will return to Goodwood
In addition to the Le Mans prototypes and their demonstration runs, the Goodwood Members’ Meeting will feature the return of the S.F. Edge Trophy race for Edwardian-era racing cars.
Vehicles produced before 1923, such as the Delage DH V12, GN Curtiss and Fiat S76, were part of the program in 2017 but not in 2018.