With the McLaren 650S going to Spa this weekend, the Silverstone Classic GRR crew has drawn the short straw in terms of transportation, but we’re consoling ourselves with the fact that we’re at the biggest historic race meeting on the planet.
Like all the great historic race meetings, the final few miles to the circuit give a firm impression of what’s in store. Queuing up to get in we saw two Aston Martin DB5s (silver, of course) a gaggle of Bristol 400s and 401s, a road-going GT40 (a real one), a Ferrari 250 SWB, and more Mustangs (here for the celebration) than we could count.
Walking through the gates the buzz is immediate. The aforementioned classics all converge in their respective groups on the many infield areas underneath their club banners as we hunt down a decent breakfast emporium, then with sustenance taken care of we we’re off to the media centre which sits above the International Paddock. Here we get our first glimpse of some of the cars taking part. It’s a magnificent and slightly intimidating sight. Seemingly everywhere you look there are Mustangs preparing for the Mustang Celebration Trophy, and in between are Historic F1 cars, Sierra Cosworths, Porsche 993 RSRs, Ferrari F40LMs, McLaren F1 GTRs, Porsche 962s, a Mercedes-Benz C11, Lola T70s… Quite simply, there will not be a greater and more varied number of historic racing cars gathered together anywhere else.
Unfortunately, due to the enormous entry list, some of the paddocks are at the opposite end of the infield to the Media Centre, so we’ve a fair walk to do to see the pre ’61 and pre ’56 Sports Cars, but we’ll get round to those in due course.
The similarities with Goodwood are few. Although at one stage both were similar high-speed airfield-derived venues, today Silverstone is a cutting-edge Grand Prix facility and the scale of the buildings and infrastructure are as impressive as they huge. However, despite Silverstone’s constant and unrelenting evolution, the high-speed nature of the track remains, and watching the likes of AC Cobras, Lister Knobblys, Alfa Giulias, Lotus Cortinas, Corvettes and Mustangs all diving under braking, bouncing over curbs, and then squatting down as they accelerate away from Vale and Club corners reminds you that this is still one of the great places to watch cars of yesteryear being driven hard.
Today is qualifying day, but stay tuned throughout the weekend as GRR brings you some of the meeting’s highlights.
Photography by Chris McEvoy