I loved the Silverstone Classic, but did you?

6

Author: James ElliottPublished:

Silverstone is back! For enthusiasts who remember the glory days of the old festivals (sponsored by a range of auction houses), last weekend was definitely a trip back to the glory days. I haven't seen any official attendance figures yet, but it seemed very busy to me, seemed like it has re-established itself as an essential gathering point for the classic car world. The main picture, by the way, was my car of the event, a beautiful and properly patinated Ferrari. Sheer class.

All the Bristol-BMW-engined clubs were side by side for an awesome display

Sure there were issues, so we'll get them out of the way as far as I saw them:

Saturday morning's traffic management was awful, mainly thanks to a broken-down E-type and an inept recovery attempt that just increased the blockage.

The cost of food from the vendors. When you go to any festival you expect to pay over the odds, but these prices sprinted the 0-60 of expectation, powered on through the 1/4-mile of disbelief and then smashed through the sound barrier of incredulity. On the plus side, it was good quality.

The buses from the top of the circuit to the bottom were overstretched, especially on Saturday. This was a shame because the classic Routemasters were a brilliant and charming solution to the issue of the "two" Silverstones. They'll have more next year, for sure.

Several other small things, beyond the control of the organisers, such as the lack of tunnels or bridges at the bottom end of the circuit.

A few enthusiasts also bent my ear (not easily done, my ears are huge, according to Martin Port) about ticket cost, but in most cases it transpired that it was the overall cost of the day out that offended them, and much of that was down to the food. Personally, I thought the ticket costs were fair, but Silverstone (and C&SC) want your feedback to keep improving the event, so if you have anything to add, however trivial it may seem, please don't be shy and please let us know.

Can't help it: see Mantis, photograph Mantis, love Mantis. Superb

Weigh these reservations against what was on offer, though, and I reckon the organisers have plenty to be rather pleased with themselves for. The clubs section was utterly sensational, the best I can remember for years. It helped massively that so many more were in grass rather than tarmac and there must be an argument for releasing those clubs still stranded on blacktop (such as the wonderful Maseratis that looked a little forlorn in their car park) perhaps by swapping them for some of the trade village. As always, there will be those that were unhappy, but the way the clubs rose to the occasion reflected well on how welcome they felt.

Masers would be even prettier on a bed of grass

Malcolm Ricketts (Lotus 18) facing the wrong way at Scheisse Zwei

The new circuit, too, made for some great racing and entertainment, though one of the new corners (The Loop officially, Sh*t One and Sh*t Two to competitors, unless they were German, in which case they were christened Scheisse Ein and Scheisse Zwei) was so classic unfriendly that it was a messy under-and-oversteer, sometimes first gear bunfight to get around. Great entertainment. Anyone who went and didn't find the new grandstand behind the funfair at Maggotts (or anyone planning a future trip to the event) should make a beeline for it next year. This is now one of the finest views in motor sport worldwide I reckon. And the non-stop historic racing, with so many, so varied grids, certainly justified taking the time to soak it up.

Love U2TC and want to be on that grid, but in what? Suggestions please

When I was travelling up to Silverstone I was muttering to myself about yet another event going three-day and questioning how necessary it is. Well, when I was driving home (blazing sunshine in the Elan, even the M40 was bearable), I was working out all the stuff I didn't get around, not through lack of interest, but just lack of time. I barely stopped to look at the traction and stationary engines, completely missed the music (the artist formerly known as Leather Tuscadero just can't compete with Group C V8s and V12s to my gargantuan ears), didn't get near the art tent and much of the rest of the trade and, criminally, entirely missed a couple of the races while I was getting around the circuit. Then there was the funfair (missed), Punch & Judy Show (ditto), pampering massage (and again), the list goes on and on. And all that adds up to pretty good value, that I was so busy that I missed so much and yet still didn't have time to blink thanks to the two main attractions: the on-track action and the clubs.

E-types: seen one, seen 'em all? I feel like I have now! Parade was a highlight

I was privileged, too, to scam a seat in the E-type parade: my own little moment in history. How much the mass E-type presence and parade added the event can't really be gauged, but is a shame that something so immense will have to way a decade or so before it has another excuse to party on such a scale.

As so often, though, it was a few rather simple, even peripheral things that made my weekend. The first was meeting so many readers and friends of Classic & Sports Car in our café by the pitlane. Over the weekend this packed marquee provided shelter for so many from both sun and rain, but that's Britain for you.

The other was late on Saturday night. I'd been stuck in the media centre filing post-Group C copy while the concert played away and the site emptied eerily. My advertising colleagues were already in the Kings Head in Syresham (lucky blighters). I conned pal Neil Godwin-Stubbert into giving me a lift, so we took the roof off his lovely and well used Healey (how he has bodged his way around a malfunctioning overdrive curdles the mind) and blatted down the A43 in the night. Open-top perfection. To top it all, on arrival at the King's Head my colleagues had a well-deserved pint of Wadworths waiting for me and I naturally discovered the car park hidden around the back (Gold Leaf Elan, Alpine A110 and a brace of Ginettas).

Lovely line-up in the new pits, which were open to spectators

Maybe it is simply that we take for granted the main course that such condiments add so much flavour on a weekend like that, but it is those little moments that turn a normal weekend into a great and memorable one.

See you all next year. 

This pair of classy Jags is owned by event director and historic racer Nick Wigley and spent the weekend ferrying VIPs and others (ie me) around. 

 

 

Comments

MrBenovich

A concur with all of your observations James. A vast improvement on previous years, loads to see and do, some very nice retro touches, and, fortunately, with unlimited access to both the Paddocks (Loved the C&SC Cafe in the International Paddock. But why no subscriber voucher prior to this for a discounted coffee and pastry?).

Perhaps also investment in more large TV screens could improve the overall experience for those fans wandering through the village areas - allowing you to update yourself on the action in bewteen purchases.

And speaking of the best view. I was on the infield for most of the time and found a couple of grassy knolls close to Sh*t 2. While it lacked the elevation of the grandstand you refer too (which was indeed a brilliant view by the way), my chums and I couldn't help thiking a circular tower viewing area where we stood would be absolutley briliant for turn 1, the two Sh*ts, the fast left after, Maggots and Becketts, Hanger Straight and Stowe. Surely a VVIP hopsitality tower is in order...

(And I second the traffic management issue. Come on Silverstone. You can make it work when the sterile F1 is town...)

Paul Sutton

I did the Friday and the Saturday and loved both days. Saturday did seem very busy but that might have been an effect of the contrast with the inevitably much quieter Friday. The traffic getting in on Saturday was a nightmare but I blame myself for not getting up early enough to miss it! The bus situation was intensely frustrating as there clearly were not enough of them given the number of visitors in attendance - getting to the International Pit for example wasn't easy, though it was well worth the effort. To my mind the tickets are reasonably priced - okay, so the younger kids don't get in free like they do at Goodwood but then the overall ticket price for adults is lower. What I loved though was the racing, the very free access to the pits and the myriad car clubs displaying all sorts of wonderful machinery. I too was mightily impressed by the Ferrari, which sounded just as it looks... Highlight for me, and for my 8 year old son, was probably seeing, and hearing, the '70s F1 cars (GP Masters) which allowed me to feel 8 again too! It was also great to see some Marcos' (Marci?) being driven in anger in the 'Gentleman Drivers' pre-66 GT race alongside assorted E-Types, TVRs, Cobras and a rumbling Bizzarrini. Any encounter with cars never seen before is a pleasure and I was introduced to a stunning Swallow Doretti and a Volpini single seater - there were others but I would need to trawl through the 400 photos that I took to remind myself what they are..! This was my first Silverstone Classic but it won't be my last. I will definitely be back next year... and will try to make sure I come for a C&SC coffee too.

Valve Bounce

I couldn’t agree more we had a fabulous time on Saturday, and thoroughly approve of the whole event. It’s always seemed to be a bit more of a fans event with a huge number of clubs there. If you book early and get tickets through your club they are half price with infield parking, that is a great deal. Luckily I did the cross country route via Stowe and Dadford and drove straight in so didn’t see any traffic.

The new pit complex is great, but it was my first visit since all the changes so it took me quite a while to work out where things were. The buses were a great idea and were working well when we used them. Unfortunately I only found the C&SC café very late, free subscribers coffee sounds like a great idea…

Our five year old enjoyed the free fun fare and I can recommend the view from the top of the Helter Skelter and big wheel.

As for stuff I could do without; “celebrity” racing? This was a waste of good track time wasn't it? With prime time slots allocated for their qualifying and the race on Saturday, is anyone really that interested apart from their mums?

I’m a lightweight so I would like to see updated leaderboards, that can’t be too difficult can it?

Oh and if I see another stall selling Steve McQueen t-shirts, shoes, jackets, hats or pictures I might have to kill myself.

The interior was as cool as the paint...

P1040274

millsy01

Agrees James
My third one now and it only gets better.
We decided we need a 'plan of attack' for next year as this year we played it by ear again (again) and missed too much.....and we were there for three days.
Food and drinks are exepensive, and if you have kids to feed too then the costs really do mount up but at least with most of it you know what you're getting before you buy, I made the mistake of buying a round in the Harley-Davison tent.....£4 for a Guinness and it wasn't even a pint!! Surely Trading Standards say you have to serve it in halfs or pints and at least tell people the quantities on the price list? One round was enough I can tell you!

We also did the Retro Run and were slightly miffed at the time to get onto the track for the display lap on Sunday, basically we missed the morning racing being queued up. Having said that, the Retro is superbly run and organised normallly and this year proved to be no exception.

We'll be back next year :>)

NKPRS2

So what about the guy that turns up on the day, parks his classic outside the gates or in a field, and walks in to Silverstone along with the many other enthusiasts that for whatever reason arrive in their everyday car,
Wake up not every classic car was inside the Silverstone fence .
For those classic owners who just like to turn up on the day .. suggest that next year, give them a free classic & sportscar parking area outside the main gate.
Book a parking area for about 200 classic cars! that will help with more copy for the mag!
NKP.

AndrewWA

I did enjoy the event, but I do fear that the organisers are trying to pour too much into the place to fill things up and try and ' do a Goodwood' - which they can never do at Silverstone. Perhaps a more organised paddock area so that you can see the competing cars, a more relaxed entry system and a specific parking area for classic cars that haven't booked through Clubs - making use of the space, lose the celebrity races and try and streamline the access about the place. It was had to work out what stands were open and also to get any concept of how the races were progressing, More giant screens and scoreboards! I did miss a number of competing cars despite being there for two days. I was surprised to see some of them appear on the track when they did and I'm not sure where they 'lived' between races. Also, the race card was rather out of date and made it hard to follow if you didn't get a chance to make notes as the races were announced. Oh - and lose the guys with the lollipop at the top of the exit from the A43 on the Saturday. They hindered rather than helped the traffic move! After over 2 hours sitting on the A43 we were not impressed...

And I liked the black 330GT too! Parked next to it on Sunday and it reminded me how the 365 used to look before we gave up and had it derusted and repainted :-)  Nice to see that there are still some around like that! 

 

Andrew Stevens

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