- Scene is set for the biggest and best Silverstone Classic yet
- Epic races, glittering parades, incredible entertainment
- Racing and rock legends add to the stunning action
- Magnificent celebrations for Maserati and Mustang milestones
Already firmly established as the World’s Biggest Classic Motor Racing Festival, next week’s 24th edition of the Silverstone Classic (25-27 July) is all set to be the largest and most spectacular celebration yet.
Last summer’s exceptional extravaganza was itself a record breaker. The 23 races featured a globally unprecedented 1113 entries spanning the full spectrum of historic motor sport while the three-day attendance of more than 90,000 was another first for the glittering event. Indeed, reinforcing its elite global status, the 2013 Classic overcame an impressive line-up of international events to win the prestigious ‘Motorsport Event of the Year Award’ at the third International Historic Motoring Awards (IHMA).
Building on that award-winning success, this year’s eagerly awaited festival is already breaking records. Underlying the Classic’s spiraling popularity, it has attracted its largest ever turn out of motor clubs as well as notably increased ticket sales. In total, no fewer than 93 clubs will be displaying in excess of 9000 classic cars on the infield, while sales of tickets – which must be purchased in advance – are well up on 12 months ago.
While these numbers are increasingly impressive, so importantly is the show. The Silverstone Classic has always focused on both quantity and genuine quality and, with countless Grand Prix and Le Mans winning cars and drivers the unrivalled on-track competitive action will again be the main attraction for most.
New grids for 90s GT Legends and F3 cars from the legendary Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna era have attracted bumper turn-outs; they join familiar favourites such as F1 cars from the much-loved DFV age and fiery Group C prototypes that – as tradition dictates – race into the Saturday evening sunset.
The full Silverstone Grand Prix circuit will also witness special parades celebrating Maserati’s centenary, 50 years of the Ford Mustang and Silverstone’s milestone 50th Grand Prix staged at the famous Northamptonshire venue earlier this month.
The barrage of entertainment continues away from the circuit with a feast of family fun ranging from free panoramic rides on the 40m high BMW Wheel and fun fair to spectacular aerial displays and dramatic rally car rides. Then, of course, there’s the live music on Friday and Saturday evenings, which this year is topped by Canned Heat and Bonnie Tyler.
With so much to see, do and experience, it’s easy to understand why the Silverstone Classic’s newest dictum is ‘One Day Is Not Enough!’.
Peerless historic racing showcase
The superlative line-up of 24 grids on this year’s packed Silverstone Classic schedule showcases more than eight decades of mouth-watering motor sport history featuring the finest F1, Le Mans, GT, single-seater, sports and touring cars from past generations. Qualifying is on Friday with a jam-packed programme of races on both Saturday and Sunday.
The three double-header showdowns for F1 machinery span from Talbot Lagos and ERAs of the Thirties to Tyrrells and Williams of the Eighties. In total more than 110 Grands Prix cars – all in their evocative original liveries – will be recreating their glory days.
Eye-catching fields of genuine sportscars also are out in force, many with capacity 58-car grids. In terms of pure speed, the Group C prototypes top the bill and, adding to the excitement, these superfast machines from the Eighties are making their only UK appearance in 2014. The impressive line-up includes a return for the sole-surviving Jaguar XJR-14 that set a new Silverstone Classic lap record last summer in the experienced hands of Nic Minassian. This year Gareth Evans is behind the wheel and he faces challenges from a pair of rumbling Mercedes C11s, no fewer than six Porsche 956/962s plus the rapid Nissan R90CK of Japanese hot-shoe Katsu Kabota.
Other sportscar showdowns are packed with illustrious icons from earlier epochs: Jaguar C-types, D-types and E-types; Lola T70s; Ferrari LMs; Aston Martins DBRs, AC Cobras and a host of other famed deities.
Touring cars are also to the fore with races for mighty American V8 muscle cars from the Sixties, hugely popular Super Tourers from the Nineties and a fiercely fought, two-driver Sir John Whitmore Trophy for Under 2-Litre Touring Cars race.
Providing extra interest and intrigue are two new grids for 2014. The introduction of the Brian Henton Trophy for Classic Formula 3 has drawn an amazing turnout of 44 entries from the feeder formula’s heydays in the Seventies and Eighties.
The other major new addition to the colossal Silverstone Classic bill – 90s GT Legends – has also become an instant success, with a line-up including no fewer than six McLaren F1 GTRs and three Jaguar XJ220s. Most exciting of all though, is an official factory entry from Porsche. It will be bringing its 1998 Le Mans-winning 911 GT1 to Silverstone for current works-driver Brendon Hartley to pilot. Although the 90s GT Legends won’t technically be a race, they will be unleashed for flat-out blasts around the full Grand Prix circuit on all three days.
Driving legends rolling back the years
Every year the Classic attracts more and more star drivers and 2014 continues that progression. No fewer than five former BTCC champions will be joining the festivities. Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden are making their Classic debuts sharing a newly-acquired Lotus Cortina in Saturday’s Sir John Whitmore Trophy. Colin Turkington is another debutant – he’s behind the wheel of a stunning BMW CSL ‘Batmobile’ and mighty Ford Galaxie.
John Cleland and Tim Harvey have competed before and are back for more and will be reliving his glory days having procured his 1997 Vauxhall Vectra in the pair of JET Super Touring Car Trophy races. Harvey has secured himself a Ford GT40 drive in Saturday evening’s FIA Masters Historic Sportscars.
Rob Huff is another tin-top champion bitten by the historic racing bug. The 2012 World Touring Car Champion is joining the Super Touring grid in a Ford Mondeo and will also be competing against the big-bangers in his giant-killing Mini. Rock legend, AC/DC front man Brian Johnson is another of the plucky Mini exponents.
Other famous names on the entry list include ex-F1 ace and Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver, Le Mans winner Andy Wallace and sportscar champion Jamie Campbell-Walter. Oliver raced a Mustang with considerable success in the Sixties and is hoping to do so again at the Classic. He will also be targeting a repeat victory in the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars – a race he won 12 months ago sharing a fabulous Ferrari 250 GT SWB with renowned historic racing specialist Gary Pearson. Wallace won Le Mans for Jaguar in 1988 and he’s driving an XJ220 LM in the 90s GT Legends.
Campbell-Walter is another taking a speedy trip down memory lane – he’s also having a blast in the 90s GT Legends. He won the 2000 FIA GT Championship in a Lister Storm and is reunited with the awesome Jaguar powered machine as part of this amazing gathering.
Maserati: 100 not out!
This summer’s Silverstone Classic will host a glittering line-up of dedicated races, displays and parades to celebrate the centenary of Maserati, one of the most historic and hallowed motoring marques in the world.
On its special milestone, Maserati will be the eminent event’s official featured ‘Celebration Marque’ for 2014, and highlights over the weekend are topped by a cavalcade featuring a record number of the Italian company’s most evocative and significant models.
No fewer than four marvellous Maserati 250Fs (plus the 250F inspired TecMec) are entered into the two Maserati Centenary Trophy for HGPCA Pre ’61 Grand Prix Cars races. Moreover, three more priceless 250Fs are promised for the parade, one to be driven by Stirling Moss.
Other notable models joining Sunday’s stunning pageant are two Maserati MC12s – including one in a special livery to celebrate the 100 years – plus Dire Straits guitar legend Mark Knopfler in his Maserati 300S.
Mustang thunders past 50 in style
Another major anniversary being honoured at this year’s Classic is 50 years of the Ford Mustang. A record number of competition varieties have entered into the two thundering Mustang Celebration Races Proudly Presented by Pure Michigan. Both superb showdowns – one on Saturday, one on Sunday – boast capacity 58-car grids including a record 32 race-prepared Mustangs.
In-field displays put the spotlight on hundreds of models showcasing all 50 years of ‘Pony Car’ evolution together with some legendary Mustangs from movies such as Gone in 60 Seconds, American Gangster and Bullitt. What's more, Ford will be displaying its yet-to-be-released 2015 Mustang V8 Fastback at the Classic. All will take to the track on Saturday with TV personality, and Mustang owner, Mike Brewer among those taking part.
Moss heads record parade of timeless Grand Prix cars
Silverstone staged its 50th Grand Prix earlier this month – a race won by Lewis Hamilton – and a record parade of Grand Prix cars will paying tribute to that historic feat.
Featuring cars already competing at the Classic together with many others specifically at Silverstone to be part of such a significant and exceptional occasion, the parade will be led by Stirling Moss and David Brabham. Moss will drive a Maserati 250F – the car in which he took two Grands Prix victories back in the Fifties – while Brabham will drive a 1967 Brabham BT24 in honour of his late father – Sir Jack Brabham – who passed away earlier this year.
Car clubs turn out in record numbers
At no other event will you see so many magical models and marques lovingly maintained and displayed by their enthusiastic owners.
A record number of 93 car clubs will be making the Silverstone Classic their top summer event in 2014 and the sheer scale of these displays – totaling some 9000 cars over the weekend – is a real celebration of motoring, automotive design and memorabilia. And, of course, a huge attraction for all show-goers, too.
Along with Maserati and Mustang, there are a host of other milestones being celebrated including 50th anniversaries for Alfa Romeo, Bristol and Sunbeam Tiger Owners Clubs on top of 25 years of the Mazda MX5. Several of the parades sadly washed out by a passing storm cloud last year are also being rescheduled. Notable among these are the 50th anniversary of Lamborghini and BMW Car Club’s ZFest and M Power cavalcades.
Classic rock at sunset
Living up to its ‘Racing And Rocking’ motto, the Silverstone Classic always delivers some great live music. Canned Heat – one of the world’s foremost boogie rock groups from the Sixties – top Friday evening’s bill while chart-topped Bonnie Tyler is Saturday’s headliner. Eagles and Aerosmith tribute bands will also be pumping out crowd favourites and, fuelling the Mustang celebrations, soul band Signed, Sealed & Delivered will be speeding through a host of memorable Motown singles.
History under the hammer
Further emphasising the growth of the event, Silverstone Auctions has expanded its Silverstone Classic to a two-day sale in 2014.
A mouth-watering mix of classic cars and memorabilia is coming under the hammer in the Silverstone Wing building. Highlights include Jackie Stewart’s first-ever racing car – an extremely rare 1960 Marcos GT Xylon – a Lotus 18 Formula Junior once raced by John Surtees plus two of the world’s most famous fighter aircraft: a 1976 Harrier GR3 Jump Jet and a 1988 Tornado F3.
Exclusive dinner honouring John Surtees
The astonishing and unique achievements of John Surtees OBE will be celebrated at Friday evening’s BRDC Silverstone Classic Dinner held in the state-of-the-art Silverstone Wing building.
It was exactly 50 years ago in 1964 that Surtees added the Formula One World Championship to his four 500cc motorcycle titles to become the first – and only – man to win World Championships on both two and four wheels. Marking that very special anniversary, Surtees will be guest of honour and Johnnie Walker MBE, the veteran radio disc jockey and broadcaster will compere the evening.
A festival feast of family entertainment
Living up to its maxim ‘Flat out fun for all the family’, the Silverstone Classic also boasts a wealth of entertainment and activities to keep all ages amused and engaged.
Those catching the classic car bug can attend one of Mike Brewer’s informative clinics on the Main Stage on Sunday where the motorhead will be offering advice on buying, restoring and owning heritage machinery. Then there are the tyre-smoking Streetcar Shootouts, historic kart racing demos, aerial displays (this year naturally including two P51 Mustangs), the Tin Snail Challenge, rally and 4x4 rides in the off-road zone, helicopter flights, a ride on the BMW Wheel, the Gibson Guitar Experience plus the busy Shopping Village and even a chance to relax with a soothing massage.
Then for younger visitors there are lots of fun fair rides, ‘Rookie Ride’ two-wheel taster sessions and junior Whacky Wheelers. Moreover many of these activities are completely FREE and – along with access to both the race paddocks, trackside grandstands and the live music concerts – included at no additional cost in the admission ticket.
Full details can be found on the official www.SilverstoneClassic.com website. Adult tickets – which must be purchased in advance – start from £39 with significant discounts for the ever-increasing numbers staying at the Classic for the full weekend festival.
One day really isn’t enough at the World’s Biggest Classic Motor Racing Festival.