Vintage Racecar’s European team was on hand at the 7th Donington Historic Festival, which took place over the May bank holiday weekend. In an era with a plethora of historic motor racing events it’s becoming more difficult for organizers to appeal to many seasoned racers. It can be said that certain events now have lackluster entries as the “cream of the crop” wish only to been seen at high-profile events. Having just had the Goodwood Members Meeting — now the UK’s season-opening event for historic racers — it was good to see such good quality grids for the three-day festival featuring 19 races and world-class competition among more than 400 cars!
Thankfully, although quite bitterly cold and windy, the weather behaved reasonably well without any precipitation. VR welcomed a number of visitors to the booth, and we were pleased to have a good number of new subscribers on board — including Peter Alexander, who brought his race-winning Chevron along for good measure (above, Kary Jiggle photo). Another visitor was VR columnist Howden Ganley, visiting the UK from his home in the USA.
The theme of this year’s Historic Festival was “Get Involved,” and the 20,000-plus visitors to the glorious Derbyshire circuit were fully entertained all weekend, both on and off track. Like the on-track racing, off-track was no different, with an area of the circuit transformed into a rich mixture of petrol-fueled attractions. On show were stunt driving with free-styling legend Paul Swift and the opportunity to watch live demonstrations from iconic Group B rally cars.
Swift, best known for his work designing the BBC’s Top Gear live shows, gave stunt driving lessons to spectators, getting people in the driver’s seat to have a go themselves. Swift also performed a live action show, the “Britalian Job,” that featured three Minis, fireworks and impressive demonstrations of J-turning.
Rallying with Group B also brought some famous Group B rally cars to play on a purpose-built stage. Considered by many to be the most fearsome rally cars ever built, the B-cars on hand included an Audi Quattro, an Opel Manta 400 and a 205 T16 Evo, which delivered a sensory overload as they took to the course.
The Historic Touring Car Challenge (HTCC) ran on Saturday with the grid full of both past and present British touring car protagonists, including Mat Jackson, Patrick Watts, Nick Whale and Adam Morgan. They fought it out over 45 laps with the one of the greatest all-round British drivers, Steve Soper, claiming the top spot on the podium alongside teammate Chris Ward in the TWR Bastos Rover Vitesse SD1.
On Sunday, the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy for Pre-’56 Sportscars took place featuring 30 competitors, including an Aston Martin DB3S and a 1954 Talbot Lago T26. Winning the race was the Cooper T38 driven by British duo of Fredrick Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards. JD Classic’s Costin Lister, as profiled in the current issue of VR, was again on the pace with Chris Ward taking an impressive flag-to-flag victory — finishing almost a minute quicker than his nearest rival, Richard Kent in a second Costin Lister.
“Our race meeting at the iconic Donington Park combines the best of historic racing cars and accomplished drivers, with a relaxed atmosphere and great views of the circuit,” commented Richard Grafton, commercial director of festival organizer Historic Promotions. “Exhilarating off-track entertainment, an infield full of car club displays and the chance to get up close to the cars in the paddock all combined to create an unforgettable race weekend. Those looking forward to the 2018 event can be confident that we will continue to build upon the event’s success.’