David Coulthard enjoys run in Jim Clark's iconic Lotus 25
Touring car stars drive the machines that made them famous
The wraps came off of the biggest ever Silverstone Classic (26-28 July) as the world’s media turned out for the pre-event Media Day at the home of British motor sport yesterday (8 May).
Event Director Nick Wigley launched the event in the Silverstone Wing complex as part of a glitzy ceremony preceded by a wonderful video of Classic action from the past. He then outlined the huge programme of on- and off-track entertainment line-up for this summer’s mouth-watering extravaganza, saying that July’s event – already with many over-subscribed grids – is all set to break its own record as the World’s biggest classic racing festival. Wigley also reported that advanced ticket sales are up on last year, a further increase on the number of car clubs attending and the shopping village has had to be extended to meet demand.
With a record number of media in attendance, a wide selection of the historic racing cars that will be competing in the Classic plus famous faces from motor sport past and present, the day included many highlights.
Arguably the most sensational sight belonged to David Coulthard, who piloted the very Lotus 25 as raced by his ‘hero’ Jim Clark to victory in the 1963 British Grand Prix. Coulthard’s nostalgic run, filmed by the BBC to be screened as part of a pre-Grand Prix programme later in the year, also kicked off the Classic’s celebrations to honour the remarkable achievements of double world champion Clark – who claimed his first Formula One title exactly 50 years ago in 1963.
Announcements at the Media Day included confirmation of Triple FIA World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx’s participation at the Silverstone Classic in July, who will be racing a BMW 1800 from the Sixties. Continuing the touring car theme, stars from the new Super Touring Trophy series were also out in force and were joined by some of the cars that made them famous. John Cleland, Tim Harvey and Patrick Watts took to the circuit in some of their machines from the 1990s – widely regarded as the heyday of the BTCC.
Tiff Needell – TV personality and former F1 driver – was also in attendance and announced that he will be competing in the event’s first-ever Historic Formula Ford race in his original Lotus 69F.
A number of Porsche 911s were also on show ahead of a massive parade of the iconic high performer, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary at this summer’s Silverstone Classic when – appropriately – 911 examples of the evergreen sportscar take to the Grand Prix circuit.
Nick Wigley said: “I am absolutely delighted with the amazing turnout – both in terms of media and our competitors who have brought along so many of the fabulous cars that’ll be competing here in July. Even the weather held off, which was great! To see David Coulthard running in Jim Clark’s Lotus was fantastic and knowing that car will be back here at the Classic is great news. It’s always hard to beat the previous year but the event is just so welcoming for families and people of all ages, and judging by the success of today the Classic just seems to be growing and growing.”
David Coulthard said: “The Silverstone Classic is a great event. This is the biggest participation motor sport event in the world and that tells you all you need to know. People are here because they’re passionate about motor sport and its history. To drive the ’63 championship winning Lotus was a real honour – Jim Clark is a true racing legend and a hero of mine. I have driven many cars but I feel even more nostalgic driving this one, which was the car that he won the first of his two World Championships. The car is immaculately prepared and even some of the original mechanics were here – it’s a great story, but also a real shame that Jimmy can’t be here to see it.”
Andy Priaulx said: “I am really excited about the event. I don’t get many days off to enjoy but this is certainly one I’m looking forward to. I’ve always followed the Silverstone Classic and obviously spent many years racing here – I’m also a very proud BRDC member, so I can’t wait to compete in this event. British motor sport has just a great history and we’re all extremely proud of that – I think the fans are too, which is why so many of them turn out for this wonderful festival. I’m running in a great little BMW 1800 that has been beautifully prepared – I wouldn’t say I’m particularly experienced in racing this type of car but it’s going to be really refreshing for me to be out there.”
Tim Harvey said: “It’s a ‘must do’ event! If you like getting up close to some of the world’s greatest cars from the history of the sport then you’ll love the Classic. You can get right up close to the cars and drivers over the weekend and the racing is first class. Mix that all in with a bit of rock music and some sunshine and it’s just a fantastic event. I’ve been lucky enough to drive two of my all-time favourite BTCC race cars on Media Day – the Ford RS500 from 1989 and the BMW M3 from 1990. The RS500 was an iconic car, 560bhp and 180mph beasts, while the BMW started the modern 2-litre era that still exists today. They’re both just brilliant cars and I’m looking forward to the Classic itself.”
Tiff Needell said: “The Silverstone Classic is the perfect event for me – I can race and ogle at stunning cars all day and then listen to rock music all night! To race will be fantastic but then to become a spectator and see my old F1 car racing and also my Group C car from Le Mans, plus I get to listen to the music of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd in the evening – it’ll be like reliving my youth! I’ve brought back the Lotus 69F Formula Ford. It’s the first car I ever raced, so I’ve put it back in its original colours and am delighted to be competing in it once again. It’ll be an epic slip-streaming battle going down the straights at Silverstone.”
Full details are available on the official www.silverstoneclassic.com website.