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The Royal Automobile Club crowned the inaugural winners of its Historic Awards last night (21 November) in its elegant Pall Mall clubhouse in London.
Guests were greeted by a special display in the Rotunda featuring Sir Stirling Moss’ own Osca, which is looked after the Club in its Woodcote Motor House, and Paddy Hopkirk’s Mini Cooper ‘S’, still wearing the mud-spatters from its victory with Steve Entwistle and Mark Appleton on HERO’s recent RAC Rally of the Tests.
The Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace topped a strong shortlist to land the Motoring Spectacle award, while top honours in the Competitive Event category went to the Chateau Impney Hill Climb.
“All three of our finalists [listed below] fulfilled the criteria for a true motoring spectacle, but only one had the depth of content to continue to captivate long after the initial impact has been forgotten,” said the judges.
“The Concours of Elegance managed to gather an entry strong enough to live up to the breathtaking venue, boosted this year by some exceptional special displays.”
There was further competition success for the Historic Sports Car Club’s International Historic Formula 2 series, which landed victory in the Race Series category.
The judges praised the “hard graft and inspired leadership which has seen this charismatic series finally fulfil its potential with sensational grids in 2019.”
“Our ambition was to always take the wonderful F2 cars to the best circuits and the best events,” said championship chairman Roger Bevan. “The world is our oyster!”
There were double winners in the Personality category, supported by HERO, as brothers Paul and Andrew Wood capped a superb year in which the Bentley 8 Litre Gurney Nutting they prepared for Sir Michael Kadoorie brought them a dream Best of Show victory at Pebble Beach – the first time a British-restored car has achieved this.
“Everybody said it was impossible but we proved them wrong,” said Paul, “but we couldn’t do it without the support of an owner who pays us to do what we love doing and a brilliant team.”
Competition was fierce in the Restoration category, with the three finalists assembled for a head-to-head judging session at Bicester Heritage ahead of the awards.
But the deserving winner was the 1967 Jim Clark Lotus 38 Indycar, restored by owner Nick Fennell and Classic Team Lotus. “This is incredibly satisfying after three years’ hard work,” said a delighted Fennell. “Classic Team Lotus have all the drawings so we could go back to first principles, and the team has done a fantastic job.”
“The Lotus just pipped the other finalists to first place with the team's remarkable attention to detail and its quest to return 38/7 to 1967 Indy 500 specification – right down to having the correct spring made for an obscure fuel valve,” reported the judges.
There was a second win for the Grand Prix legend as the recently rejuvenated Jim Clark Motorsport Museum, which re-opened this summer, was adjudged the top Collection.
Clark’s cousin Doug Niven paid tribute to the support the museum has received, in particular from Scottish racers such as Sir Jackie Stewart, David Coulthard and Dario Franchitti.
“We’ve lived and breathed this project for seven years,” said Niven, “and there are so many who helped us to get over this hurdle. Without them it wouldn’t have happened.”
The judges commented that: “The museum conveys a sense of place like few others, linking the stories of Jim Clark and the nearby towns, and encouraging visitors to explore those links through a trail that takes in his farm and grave, amongst others.
“It has done an extraordinary job in attracting over 1000 visitors a month to Duns, which is not on the normal tourist trail and requires a committed journey to reach.”
After Nick Trott collected the Outstanding Journalism award for ‘Helter Skelter’, his feature on the Porsche 917 for The Road Rat magazine, the final gong of the night was the inaugural Lifetime Achievement award, given to an individual who has made ‘an outstanding contribution to the British historic motoring movement across many years’.
After joking that winning such a trophy in your own lifetime is “a bit like being measured for your coffin”, former Brooklands Museum director – and arguably the true saviour of the historic site – Allan Winn expressed his delight at being the inaugural winner. “I’ve just been allowed to get on and do what I believe in.”
But he’s not resting on his laurels. Winn’s contributions to the world of historic motoring continue to this day – he is an active race marshal and a regular judge at concours at events including Pebble Beach.
Hosted by Formula One presenter Lee McKenzie, the Historic Awards were created to build on the Club’s long history of supporting British automotive achievements by celebrating the people involved in the British historic motoring and motorsport scene and their incredible work.
C&SC’s editor in chief Alastair Clements, editor at large Simon Taylor and group editor in chief Steve Cropley were all among the lead judges for a set of awards that are likely to grow in stature in the coming years, judging by this impressive first showing.
Shortlist in full (winners in bold)
- British Commercial Vehicle Museum
- The Bugatti Trust
- Jim Clark Motorsport Museum
- Castle Combe Autumn Classic
- Le Mans Start Silverstone (VSCC Formula Vintage Festival)
- Chateau Impney Hill Climb
- Bentley Drivers Club 1001 Bentleys at Blenheim Palace
- Bicester Heritage Super Scramble
- Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace
- Ian Ferguson, VSCC
- Julius Thurgood, HRDC
- Paul and Andrew Wood, P&A Wood
- Mark Evans, Inside Jaguar: A Supercar is Reborn
- Doug Nye, Enzo, The Man
- Nick Trott, Porsche 917
- Classic Racing Motorcycle Club
- Equipe GTS & Classic Relay
- HSCC Historic Formula 2
- 1939 Corniche, Bentley Motors
- 1948 Land-Rover Series One, Land Rover Classic
- 1967 Lotus 38 Indycar, Nick Fennell/Classic Team Lotus
Lifetime Achievement Award
- Allan Winn