Old hands, fast show at thruxton

In theory, it should have been a case of ‘might matters’; Thruxton’s fast, sweeping curves lending traction to the big-blocked, wide-axled brutes of the post-war era. But just as in the dawn of the swinging sixties, nobody told the Garagistas.

The Historic meeting at the home of the British Automobile Racing Club is rapidly becoming a firm and well-supported favourite. Emerging from 2018’s 50th anniversary celebration of the Hampshire circuit, all who gathered (in social distance) were treated to a remarkable weekend of exceptional racing in some of the finest cars Britain has ever dared to produce.

The stunningly beautiful Aston Martin Ulster.
There were E-Types a plenty, including this 1961 race winning car of Jon Minshaw & Rory Butcher

Sports cars, GT’s, Super-Tourers and post-vintage legends were all in abundance. Saturday’s feature race, the Motor Racing Legends’ RAC Woodcote Trophy & Stirling Moss Trophy producing a combined grid of original specification post-War (pre-’56) sports racers and their slightly later lightened, hand-forged cousins. The Lister contingent swarmed from start to finish but it was Ben Adams in the Mk1 Lola that showed the truest pace, edging Jon Minshaw’s Knobbly in qualifying and lapping supremely for the duration to maintain the gap.

Adams in the last of the Mk1 Lolas heads the Coopers through the chicane

Touring car fans were treated to two separate grids of flame-spitting brutes. Ric Wood’s Nissan Skyline GT-R quickly took the lead of the first Historic Touring Car Challenge race and proceeded to lap with ever more fury but a retirement in race 2 handed the spoils (and combined classification) to the Rover SD1 of Patrick Blakeney-Edwards & Gregor Fiskin.

Wood’s Skyline GT-R looked set to dominate proceedings . .
. . but the Rover’s pace and reliability took it to P1 overall

It was an all-Ford affair in the Jack Sears Trophy race. John Spiers & Tiff Needell bagged pole in the Lotus Cortina but the mighty Mustang of David Coyne & Adrian Miles soon cut through the leaders and fended-off the squabbling Cortinas of Richard Dutton and Neil Brown to ease to victory.

It was Ford versus Ford in the race for Jack Sears Trophy honours

But if GT racing is your thing, then you would have enjoyed every single minute of the three hours of action from the GT & Sports Car Cup, the Thermex Allstars for pre-66 GT, Sports & Touring Cars, and the sleek Pre-63 GTs.

Fresh from showing his pace in the British Touring Car Championship, Rory Butcher gave a masterclass behind the wheel of E-Types shared with Jon Minshaw (Pre-63) and William Paul (GT & Sports Car Cup); winning by nearly a minute with the former whilst delivering a series of stunning laps before facing retirement from Sunday’s 90-minute endurance.

Butcher exiting the final corner in the car shared with William Paul.
Whilst Jon Minshaw played his part by leading the duo to victory in the Pre-63 GT race.

With retirements from the Jaguar and Ben Adams’ Lola, it was the unlikely but much deserving duo of Mark Holme & Jeremy Welch who seized the opportunity to claim victory in the GT & Sports Car Cup with their Austin Healey 3000, leading the Ahlers / Bellinger Morgan by almost 50 seconds.

Honours for the Healey.

In the weekend’s other two races, Patrick Blakeney-Edwards steered the Frazer Nash Super Sports shared with Mike Grant Peterkin to a hard-earned victory over the late charging Alvis of Rudiger Friedrichs whilst in Sunday’s finale, Richard Merrell’s Alfa Romeo Giulia GT Junior outshone the rest of the field to record a handsome margin by the flag.

Grant Peterkin & Blakeney-Edwards worked hard behind the wheel of the Frazer Nash
Richard Merrell rose to the challenge of the Alfas to convert pole position into a commanding win

Weekends like this are clearly few and far between, and whilst many of these Motor Racing Legends might easily find their way into any automotive museum or static collection, it’s not just a joy but a privilege to see them do what they were born and bred for: Roll-on next year.