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Little Classics News: 1 October 2014

Castle Combe Autumn Classic Gears Up for Biggest Yet

Classic Jaguars at Castle Combe

What could be the best meeting in its 64 year history will be classic car heaven, when the Castle Combe circuit hosts its 3rd ‘Bristol Forklifts and Heritage Insurance Autumn Classic’ on Sunday 5th October.

Eight classic car races are almost overshadowed by the plethora of rare and interesting historic display cars, celebrity guests and drivers, owners’ clubs and a period atmosphere.

One attendee with a connection to the Wilshire circuit will be Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason, resident of nearby Corsham, who is showing off a number of cars from his amazing collection.

Maserati 250F

Mason’s legendary Maserati 250F (above), which thrilled the crowds last year and was once voted the “greatest racing car ever” by readers of Octane magazine, will appear alongside his Maserati T61 ‘Birdcage, occasionally raced by Marino Franchitti, husband of Mason’s daughter, Holly. Both she and her sister Chloe, will compete in the 20 minute race for Historic Aston Martins. The sisters have a pair of famous 1934/1935 Aston Martin Ulsters which competed at Le Mans, an event which has a multitude of connections with the ‘Classic’.

Another star name with a Le Mans connection is Andy Wallace who took an historic win there for Jaguar in 1988, its first since its triple victories in 1955, ‘56 and ‘57. The D Type was the model which brought Jaguar its 1950s hat trick in France and Wallace will be racing one in the Norman Dewis Trophy race. This will be Wallace’s first visit to the circuit for 30 years, having his last race here in 1984, when he finished on the FF2000 podium. In July 1980 he competed in a remarkable race for the Pre ‘74 Formula Ford championship which ended in a dead heat, with Wallace and Simon Davey declared joint winners! Davey still competes in historic Formula Ford, which features at Castle Combe at its ‘Championship Finals’ event, the day before!

Fraser Nash Classic car racing

Cotswold Classic Car Restoration not only sponsors the Aston Martin race but is transforming some of the buildings at the circuit into a period village petrol station, complete with pumps. Many of the Aston drivers will also take part in the FiSCar race for 1950s sports cars.

The ‘Healey Driver International Invitation race for Big Healeys’, has a number of European entries, but a very strong West Country flavour, as Bristol has always been a major centre of Austin Healey activity.

Much of that activity has and continues to centre around John Chatham. His sons, Jack and Oliver will be sharing the car which finished second at this race last year in the hands of Joe, their other brother. John Chatham’s most famous Le Mans Healey, ‘DD 300’, which was also a regular winner at Combe in its day, will be back again with its new owner, Karsten Le Blanc. The car has been restored to its original 1961 Le Mans spec and could be a podium finisher.

Classic Jaguar racing

Lap record holder, David Smithies, will be a firm favourite, whilst Chris Clarkson and Ted Williams who finished third last year are back in Clarkson’s rapid Mk1.

Making a long awaited return to Combe after a 59 year absence are the 500cc Formula 3 cars, taking part in the Bristol Aeroplane Company Motor Sports Club Challenge Trophy race. Modern Formula 3 can effectively trace its roots back to the Bristol area, as it was conceived at the former ‘BAC’ in Filton in 1945.

Classic Austin Healeys

Another race for relatively tiny single seaters is that for the ‘Miller Oils Formula Junior Championship’, featuring the one litre and 1100 cc single seaters in which many great names also started their careers.

Bristol Forklifts owner and acclaimed quadruple Monaco winner Julian Bronson, will be demonstrating his very rare front engined Scarab Grand Prix car, fresh from his pair of wins at Spa. The American built car, with 2.5 litre Offenhauser engine, dates from 1960.

Other demonstrations include a 1905 ‘World Land Speed record’ Fiat, complete with 16.5 litre engine, the ex Bob Gerard Cooper Bristol Formula 1 car and the largest collection of Bristol cars ever gathered together! They will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of Bristol’s 1954 Le Mans 1-2-3 class victory, the sole surviving team car joining the demonstration in a very rare outing.

Another once proud local car manufacturer, Horstman, will be represented with 2 very rare 1920’s cars, once built in the City of Bath.

Castle Combe Autumn Classic

The Vintage Sports Car Club’s race for pre-war sports cars also has a Le Mans connection. In 1934, the same year the VSCC was formed, British sports cars filled 15 of the first 18 places in the 24 hour race, the works Riley team placed 2-3-5-6. To celebrate this 80th anniversary, the Riley Register will feature a display of pre-war Rileys located in the 'Heritage' Club Avenue.

Sunday’s events get under way with qualifying at 08-30, the first race starting at 12.45.

One of the great joys of the day is being able to wander around the paddock and unlike many other events, there is no extra charge for doing so. It is one of those rare tracks that still hold some of the characteristics of classic racing, making it an ideal location for the event.

Main admission prices are £15 for Adults and £10.00 for those over 65, with accompanied children under 17 admitted free.


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