The illustrious motor circuit at Spa-Francorchamps is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places to watch modern motorsport, but sadly none of us here in the GRR office are old enough to have witnessed racers in full flight on the old 14kms track that last saw Formula 1 cars competing in 1970.
We’ve all seen James Garner tackling the course in the movie Grand Prix, of course, but the rest is left to our imagination and the tales still told by some of the legendary figures who knew the track as it used to be.
But the modern 7kms circuit remains the stirring enough, and our own early motorsport memories include Spa tragedies like Stefan Bellof’s untimely demise, triumphs such as Webber’s overtake of Alonso at Eau Rouge in 2013, and even craziness like the widely reported ‘dare’ between Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta in 1999 that saw them both wipe-out their BAR F1 cars while attempting to take Eau Rouge flat in qualifying….
But the long history of motorsport at Spa means there are rich memories for fans of racing in all eras, and for those of us who couldn’t be there ‘in period’, the wonderful Spa Classic weekend must be one of the highlights of the historic motorsport calendar.
A quick flick through this year’s entry list proves many Goodwood Revival and Members’ Meeting competitors think so too, and we’re looking forward to catching up with a few friends of GRR on our road trip to Spa this weekend.
With categories including Group C, touring cars from the 1960s to 1980s, prototypes and GT racers from the 1960s and 1970s, and under two-litre touring cars from the birth of the ETCC, there’s going to be lots of great content for us to sink our teeth into.
To help get us in the mood we’ve borrowed a couple of heritage fleet cars from our friends at BMW and Ford, both of which hark back to the hey-day of ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’ motor-racing when you could walk into a showroom and drive off in a machine that bore more than simply a passing resemblance to its racing counterpart.
The cars in question are a wonderful BMW M635 CSi – a model represented by a couple of racing examples at the Spa Classic this year, not to mention a number of M1 racers which share our car’s free-revving six cylinder motor – and a rather famous (to viewers of daytime TV cookery programmes, at least!) Ford Capri 280, which shares a bloodline with some truly legendary racers.
We’re leaving West Sussex for Belgium today. Stay tuned for more!