A "Silver"-Stone Classic
The Silverstone Classic hit the ripe old age of 25 last month. It is claimed to be the largest festival of historic motor sport staged annually anywhere. Certainly a huge crowd of over 100,000 flocked to the former World War Two Royal Air Force bomber base and home to the British Grand Prix enjoying a rich pageant of motor racing history and so much more. Over the three days of the event virtually every aspect of motorsport took to the track from Formula One to Sports Cars and Touring Cars, evidence of the popularity of this branch of racing, both with the competitors and spectators alike. The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain was commemorated with a display of Spitfires. The sound of the Merlin V12 is always a crowd pleaser. The crowds were ferried about in another thoroughly British creation, the Routemaster double-decker bus. Even the weather joined in as downpours were frequent, a typical English summer, or so the clichés would have us believe. The Silverstone Classic is not just about racing (in common with many events in the UK) and is aimed at family groups, so retail therapy, gastronomic experiences and even a fun fair are to be found in the huge expanse of Silverstone. For those who were camping in and around the circuit, there was also a concert on Saturday with Staus Quo heading the bill, historic rockers for historic racing. Naturally car clubs are an important part of the scene, AC's finest here. And more up to date the variations on the Skyline/GT-R theme. On track there were some very special cars, this Ferrari "Breadvan" is based on a Ferrari 250 GT SWB. After an attempted palace coup at Ferrari in 1961, three senior staff left and founded a rival organization they named ATS. They were funded by Count Volpi whose Scuderia Serenissima then attempted to buy the new Ferrari 250 GTO as the old car was being outpaced. Enzo Ferrari blocked this purchase and therefore Volpi had Giotto Bazzarini update his existing 250 GT SWB (chassis #2819 GT) both mechanically and aerodynamically; the result was given the nickname "Breadvan" by the press. One of the highlights of the Classic is the Group C race, which starts as the sun is going down... The '90s battles of the ex-BTCC cars are fought again, just as fiercely as they were back in the day. These days the idea of being able to see a Formula One car close up is a dream but the historic scene embraces the fans, another reason for the strong following. Less formal and more in touch with the roots of the sport, than say the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Silverstone Classic seems set to prosper, roll on the next 25 years. Photography copyright and courtesy of Simon Hildrew.