Tag Archives: Silverstone

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A Vintage Crop at Silverstone

The Special Correspondent visits Silverstone for the Spring VSCC meeting, rare and interesting is his quarry…………….

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A beautiful spring morning tempted me to drive up to Silverstone to this event where there is always an abundance of interesting cars especially when the sun shines to lure owners out with their treasured possessions. Before leaving the car park I came across this lovely Lea Francis.

It is a 2.5-litre Sports – they made 77 between 1950-53. Lea Francis was active in competitions before the war, particularly in the late Twenties when they won outright the 1928 Tourist Trophy and scored two class wins at Le Mans in 1929 and 1930.

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A very unexpected visitor! A 1913 Morris Oxford, representing the start of the extraordinary William Morris story. These early cars had the White and Poppe engines.
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Here at the other end of the scale! This is a 1928 4.5-litre Bentley, one of the Team cars. It came 7th in that year’s Tourist Trophy, never a race to suit the big cars of W.O. In the first Double Twelve at Brooklands in 1929 it retired but redeemed itself at Le Mans by completing the quartet of Bentleys which dominated that year’s results at La Sarthe. In the final Brooklands Six Hour race it came 3rd and managed 5th in the Irish Grand Prix.
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This is the Nash-Healey which finished 3rd behind the two Mercedes-Benz 300SLs at Le Mans in 1952, driven by Leslie Johnson and Tommy Wisdom, winning also the 3,000-5,000 c.c. class.

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Known as X8 and was hurriedly put together to replace the Le Mans Coupé (X6) which was badly crashed in the Mille Miglia.
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The big 4.1-litre 6-cylinder pushrod Nash engine.
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I loved this 1929 Amilcar Type M, completely unrestored.

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Amilcar, of St Denis in Paris, is chiefly remembered for its little sports two-seaters, rivals to the Salmsons in the Twenties but at the time of this saloon the company was giving up competitions and concentrating on touring cars.

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Here is its side-valve 1244 c.c. motor.
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A Kurtis 500 with solid front axle and Chevrolet small-block V8 – all very American!

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There were masses of Frazer-Nashes at Silverstone. This is a Sebring model, the last of the Isleworth-built two-seaters – this one made in August 1954, the first of just three.
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This Riley is a mixture! It has a Sprite chassis but is allegedly powered by the engine from Raymond Mays’s “White Riley” which had developments leading to the E.R.A. engines which were of course Riley-based.

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TAILPIECE
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Appropriately for this meeting some BMW 328s with right-hand drive marketed as Frazer-Nash-BMWs to reflect Isleworth’s involvement with the Munich company.

David Blumlein, May 2016

Taking a look at the Tourist Trophy

The Tourist Trophy is the oldest motor race still being contested, having first been run in 1905 on the Isle of Man. In recent years the Trophy has been awarded to the winners of the Silverstone 6 Hours race, a round of the World Endurance Championship of which this race was the first for 2015. There are four classes, LM P1, LM P2, GTE Pro and GTE Am and the teams look upon the Silverstone 6 Hours and the forthcoming Spa 6 Hours in Belgium as workouts for the all-important Le Mans 24 Hour race in June, just as in bygone years the Six Hour and Double Twelve races at Brooklands were viewed in the same way.
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The Porsche 919 Hybrids took command from the start. Here Mark Webber sets the pace down the Hangar Straight into the fast Stowe Corner – it was not to last!

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The GTE Am-winning Aston Martin Vantage V8 leads its team-mate and the LM P2 Alpine through Stowe.
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The LM P2 Oreca 05 Coupé was new and offered strong competition in this class in the early stages.
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The CLM P1 was an old friend in new clothing but with an AER motor.
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One of the joys of long –distance sports car racing is the “mixture” that often occurs in the corners, compelling the drivers of the faster cars to negotiate the “traffic” carefully – all part of the job of winning a race. Here is a tight group of GTs and prototypes at Becketts.
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Here the Toyota which finished 4th swallows up the GT Aston Martin which came 4th in the GTE Pro class on the entrance to Chapel Curve.
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Always a threat are the Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSRs. This one is coming out of the fast curves at Becketts on its way to a disappointing 7th in class.
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The LM P2 Ligiers, introduced only last year at Le Mans, have become very potent contenders – this one was the well merited class winner which finished 6th overall.
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Here is the winning Audi R18 e-tron Quattro fighting to protect its slender lead after a late “stop-go” penalty for exceeding the track limits coming out of Club – it just held off the Porsche no.18 of the hard-charging Jani!
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One loses count of the number of times the excellent pairing of Bruni and Vilander have already won GT honours for the AF Corse team. Here they are doing it again in the Ferrari F458 Italia; the desperate Jani pursues the Italian GTE Pro car into Club Corner.
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The victors of the Silverstone 6 Hours, Fässler, Tréluyer and Lotterer can add their names to the prestigious Tourist Trophy.

David Blumlein July 2015

Best of British

Celebrations for sure as a result of Bentley’s historic win but for the first time in sixty-three years three old established British sports car marques found themselves competing together in an international endurance race – we had at Silverstone Aston Martin, Bentley and Jaguar all running in the Blancpain Endurance Series Silverstone 3 hours on May 25.

Aston Martin was represented by five Vantage GT3s with the V12 6-litre engine, a works car of this type winning this race in 2013. Bentley raced officially for the first time at Silverstone with their two M-Sport Continental GT3s and the private Generation Bentley Racing Continental GT3. The Swiss Emil Frey Racing team brought their G3 Jaguar XKR.

We note that the first ever Bentley saw the light of day at the end of 1919, the first Aston Martin appeared in May 1921 and Jaguar dates back to 1931 when William Lyons (later Sir William) presented his SS car at the Olympia Show.

Here are some of their modern representatives in practice:

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One of the Vantage V12 versions of the Aston Martin.

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One of the M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3s at Luffield

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This Jaguar XKR has been developed privately by the Emil Frey team but did not ,alas, last long in the race.

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A Bentley at Brooklands! What turned out to be the winning car reminds us that the very first race win for a Bentley car took place at the real Brooklands.

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The first of the Continental GT3s to fall into private hands, chassis no. 3, is the Generation Team car.

In the Race:

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The Bentley chases the Art McLaren down the Wellington Straight

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The Bentley leads! History was about to be made!

David Blumlein, July 2014

Time for Blancpain

One of the great successes in recent endurance racing is the Blancpain Endurance Series. Stéphane Ratel has come up with a formula for GT3 cars that has a widespread appeal.  As the jewel in the crown, the Spa 24 Hours, approaches, it seems appropriate to get the thoughts and reflections from our Special Correspondent.


An impressive 57 GT cars started the Blancpain Silverstone race, a week after the British GT series managed a splendid 46 starters for their “500” event. GT racing is certainly popular, but despite these successes, I pose the question: are there now too many GT races? On the very day of the Blancpain race, the British Endurance Series (Britcar) could only muster 8 starters for their Rockingham round and the GT Cup race at Brands Hatch had just 11 runners. These are series that have mustered healthy grids in the past, so is it all being overdone? It would seem to suggest so and this is a shame. Inevitably a consequence is an over-crowded calendar, of course. Much as we like them, fewer races, please, so that enthusiasts can attend more.
An unexpected and most welcome feature of Silverstone’s Blancpain round was the last-minute entry of a works Aston Martin, their V12 Vantage GT3. The car had been brought from the Nϋrburgring 24 Hours, given a quick work-out at Snetterton to adapt to the Pirelli tyres and taken thence to Silverstone.

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That this car dominated the event was especially appropriate in Aston Martin’s Centenary year and it mirrors the appearance 60 years ago almost to the week of a single works Aston Martin winning the sports car race at Charterhall when Reg Parnell gave the DB3S its début (no GTs then!). The addition of the GT3 car to the regular Blancpain entry was very desirable – it makes the race more memorable and it breaks up the “package” concept whereby the same cars are expected at every round, so worryingly reminiscent of the unhealthily rigid situation in Formula One. Motor racing needs plenty of “natural” variety, with cars turning up when they’re ready, not because some selfish rules (motivated by greed) dictate that everyone has to come every time. Well done, Aston Martin, for coming when it suited your needs!

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The Audi R8 has gradually been coming good, winning the important 24 Hour races at the Nϋrburgring and Spa in 2012. They provided strong opposition at Silverstone and one was not surprised to find two of the very competitive Belgian WRT Team cars next home after the Aston. This is the Ortelli/Vanthoor/Rast second-placed example.
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Also offering strong competition were the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3s. The British team JRM has been developing these cars in conjunction with NISMO in Japan and was rewarded with 4th place. The RJN no. 35 machine even led the winning Aston in the early laps, in the end it won the Pro-Am category, finishing 10th.

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Disappointing were the McLarens – their best result was 7th courtesy of the Hexis team who had much success formerly with their Aston Martins. Like several others they elected to use the Woking cars for 2013 but these new cars seem to be off the pace at the moment. Above is the French ART Team MP4-12C three-wheeling out of Becketts.
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One of the particular joys of endurance sports/GT races is the presence of the subsidiary classes, especially when they throw up unexpected winners. Such was the case with the Gentlemens’ Trophy, the GTR category. This Slovakian-entered Porsche 997 GT3 R of the ARC Bratislava team came out top of the thirteen starters:
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Of the original 57 starters overall only 9 cars were unclassified, a most satisfactory reliability rate. Alas, one which failed was this Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 which understandably could not recover from an under-bonnet fire.

David Blumlein July 2013

Champion Racing

1983 Silverstone 1000kms

Silverstone 1983, and Alan Jones steers the Kremer Porsche 956 out of Copse. A rare shot of a 956 running with the long tail bodywork while not at Le Mans, the lack of downforce in this low drag configuration cost at least a few seconds a lap…………..Jones actually led the race courtesy of fitting intermediates at the start of the race when the track was wet, he and fellow Aussie, Vern Schuppan finished up 5th.

A Wet Moggie

December is upon us, so the mood is definitely that of hibernation. The office has been cleared up a tad and both scanners are now up and running with the latest Silverfast 8.0 software. Just playing around with some old negatives but here is a Morgan back on 10th May 1982 at the Silverstone 6 Hours. The Plus 8 was driven by Bruce Stapleton, Bill Wykeham and Richard Down in a typically wet endurance race. They completed 177 laps and finished 15th overall, 4th in class.

I must have been bonkers to be standing out in the deluge.

John Brooks, November 2012

956 Anyone?

Full House

Silverstone in 1983 and that year’s must have accessory was the Porsche 956, it was the new black. Even a cack-handed snapper such as I could not fail to capture a gaggle of the wunder cars as they raced around the old bomber base. So here are five in shot, Kremer, Joest, Fitzpatrick and Obermaier entries….the likes of Alan Jones, Vern Schuppan, Bob Wollek, Stefan Johansson, David Hobbs, John Fitzpatrick, Jürgen Lässig and Hans Hayer behind the wheel……………….we did not appreciate how lucky we were………..

John Brooks, December 2011

Springtime for Michele and Lancia, Winter for Porsche and Ford……..

Double Martini

OK, maybe I am not Mel Brooks but you get the drift.

Fishing through the archives I found this shot of the Lancia LC1 pair running away at Silverstone back in 1982. As ever in motor racing controversy was not far behind. The Group C rules were based on a specific fuel allocation per race, at Silverstone it was 600 litres, the standard amount for 1000 Kilometre races. Unfortunately the race at Silverstone was run to a traditional six hour format, that amounted to 1,118 kilometres for the winning Lancia. So despite taking pole position by 1.7 seconds, the sole Rothmans Porsche 956 of Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell ended up trundling round some ten seconds off the pace in order to save enough fuel to get to the finish. Motor racing it was not.

Rules made by those who do not understand the consequences……………now where have we heard that before?

John Brooks, December 2011