Record breaking Classic birthday refuels passions06 August 2021
Promised as the ‘biggest and best’ ever staged, the very special 30th anniversary edition of The Classic certainly lived up to its weighty birthday billing on all fronts.
Over three memorable days at Silverstone, The Classic hosted 21 exceptional retro races featuring more than 900 entries enthralling a record six figure audience. These huge numbers not only further endorsed the event’s reputation as the world’s biggest historic motor racing festival but also reignited passions, restored smiles and reaffirmed the UK’s unquenchable thirst for motoring and motorsport nostalgia.
“After all the lockdowns, and last year’s cancelation, it was wonderful to see the crowds back in force and the pits, paddocks and display areas crammed with so many incredible cars from the glorious past,” effused a delighted Nick Wigley, CEO of The Classic promoter Goose Live Events. “To celebrate the 30th anniversary a year later than planned and to revitalise spirits, we really wanted to pull out all the stops and this year’s Classic was a truly great restorative show.”
As ever, The Classic offered outstanding family entertainment with famous faces, massive car club displays and vibrant live music enhancing the unrivalled line-up of outstanding historic races that are always the star attraction.
In challenging conditions, the competition was fast and furious from the outset with both professional and amateur drivers displaying incredible skills, many in priceless icons from yesteryear.
To mark the 30th anniversary, the race roster included all the ‘greatest hits’ from recent events covering the full spectrum of historic racing. The oldest cars on the card were legendary Bentleys from the 1920s, the most modern were stunning Peugeot 908s and similar prototypes from as recently as 2016.
With 50+ car grids and 21 fiercely fought encounters, there were many standout performances over the weekend, notably the unique scarlet Ferrari 250 GT SWB ‘Breadvan’ winning the coveted Royal Automobile Club Historic Tourist Trophy for Pre-’63 GT cars.
Among the drivers, Michael Lyons powered the Ensign N180B to victories in both the races for the Murray Walker Memorial Trophy for Masters Historic Formula One, while reigning European Le Mans Series LMP3 champion, Rob Wheldon, set a new outright track lap record for the faster ‘Historic Vale’ layout of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit when winning the first of two Masters Endurance Legends races in a Judd V8-engined Lola B12/50 LMP1 prototype.
One of the most thrilling finishes came in the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote and Stirling Moss Trophies race, held at dusk on Saturday evening. After more than 40-minutes of rousing racing on a wet track, less than a second covered the top three finishers – the famous ex-works 1955 HWM Jaguar of Martin Stretton and Gregor Fisken finally taking the chequered flag in the gathering darkness.
As well as all the epic race action, the track also witnessed many other unforgettable highlights. To mark the 25 years since he was crowned as Formula One World Champion, Damon Hill was back behind the wheel of his title winning Williams-Renault FW18 and a pack of stunning Jaguar XJR15s marked the 30th anniversary of the extraordinary Jaguar Intercontinental Challenge.
Car clubs were back in record numbers, too, with circuit parades honouring major marque and model milestones. Among these were significant gatherings of time-travelling DMC DeLoreans and Lamborghini Countachs, each marking their respective 40th and 50thbirthdays.
A year later than originally planned, Triumph Stags were out in force, too, with 375 of the stylish British sports tourers amassing to mark the convertible 2+2’s 50th anniversary – a landmark carried forward from last summer. Fittingly, the colourful on-track convoy was led by the last production Stag loaned by the British Motor Museum for the momentous occasion.
For its stirring efforts, the Stag Owners Club was awarded with the Adrian Flux Trophy for Best Car Club Display while another Triumph – the very first TR2 ever built in right-hand-drive – lifted the Yokohama Trophy for the Best Club Car of the Show. The second Yokohama Trophy for the Supercar Legends Car of the Show was presented to a concours condition Ferrari F40.
On Friday evening the Silverstone circuit also hosted the INEOS Grenadier Fun Ride, led by INEOS’s soon-to-be-released Grenadier 4x4 model and raising funds for the event’s official charity partner, Alzheimer’s Research UK.
INEOS was not the only new manufacturer providing show goers with a sneak preview at The Classic. Soon to be on sale luxury brand Genesis had a major presence in the International Paddock behind Silverstone’s impressive Wing, offering test drives for the first time in the UK.
The Wing also hosted three days of Silverstone Auctions sales with £7m worth of classic cars and collector motorcycles finding new homes. No less than four new world record prices were achieved over the weekend including a remarkable 1991 Audi quattro 20v which sold for a phenomenal £163,125.
TV presenter Richard Hammond was in attendance, along with a film crew from Discovery+, to watch a number of cars and bikes from his own collection going under the hammer. Collectively Hammond’s eight lots generated just over £230,000 of much-needed funding for The Smallest Cog, his newly established classic car restoration business.
Among a feast of other off-track highlights, The Telegraph put together an intriguing collection of ‘The UK’s Rarest Cars’ gathering together a number of old favourites such as the Alfasud, Ford Cortina and Rover SD1 that today have all but disappeared from our roads.
The Classic’s new official lubricant partner, Motul, had a large presence, too, with its Motul Racing Laboratory on site to offer competitors an oil analysis service. The pioneering company was also celebrating 50 years since it launched the world’s first fully synthetic lubricant and launching two new additions to its Motul Classic range of oils.
As ever, The Classic was far more than a petrolhead’s paradise. Guaranteeing entertainment for all ages and interests fun fair rides, stunt shows, interactive activities plus a whole host of family fun and games were included in the price of admission… as well as great live music performances on both Friday and Saturday evenings.
Party band Scouting for Girls revved up festival-goers on the opening night with reggae legends ASWAD and Acid Jazz pioneers The Brand New Heavies headlining on Saturday.
All those who missed The Classic – or want to relive all the magical on- and off-track excitement – can find full coverage of all three days on the event’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/silverstoneclassic.
Two highlight programmes will also air next week on ITV4. Hosted by Tiff Needell and Nicki Shields, these hour-long, post-produced edits will be screened on back-to-back evenings at 8pm on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 August with repeats on Sunday 15 August and Sunday 29 August.