Retro makes leap forward
Established motorsport show gets a shot in the arm
’New features in lighter, warmer halls plus great race and rally car displays’
With the 2017 event being the first year under new management and the show marking its 15th anniversary, there was a fresh vitality to Race Retro, with many new features for its visitors.
At last year’s event it was announced that Clarion Events had taken over the historic motorsport show – and they have obviously taken on board the need for change, introducing additional features in lighter, warmer halls.
There were great displays of race and rally cars in each of the four halls at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, for the three-day event, plus more than 250 stands and displays reflecting the motorsport theme. Among the innovations this year was a new competition for the Pride of the Paddock trophy, in which visitors voted for their choice from the dozen different privately-owned race and rally cars that had been entered.
One of the main displays featured a display of Cosworth DFV-engined racing cars curated by Cosworth Engineering co-founder Mike Costin, which included examples of Lotus, Surtees and Williams cars.
Other cars that were on display included a 1957 Vanwall Grand Prix car, a 1950s Jaguar D-type and a British Touring Cars Championship ex-works Rover 3500 SD1. The cars framed the live stage, where a full programme of talks delivered by the likes of Norman Dewis, Tom Kristensen, Rosemary Smith and Barrie ‘ Whizzo’ Williams kept the crowds entertained, followed by opportunities to pick up autographs.
On Friday, the 1965 Lotus 33 R11 racing car in which Jim Clark won his second F1 title made its first public appearance for 40 years. This was linked with the launch of a £300,000 crowd-funding charity campaign, backed by Sir Jackie Stewart, to help redevelop the Jim Clark Rooms in Duns, Scotland, into a modern museum to include two of the late champion’s cars (www.crowdfunder. co.uk/jim-clark-museum).
Outdoors the Live Rally Stage provided the action highlight for many show-goers, as more than 80 rally cars were put through their paces on the tight circuit. Finnish 1981 World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen returned to Race Retro to show how it was done, driving a Rothmans Ford Escort RS1800 that he had driven in period.
Another new feature was the opportunity offered by HERO Events for visitors to have a short drive in a choice of ten classic cars including a Ford Cortina GT and a Porsche 911, with prices starting at £35. As far as we are aware, no one took a wrong turn onto the rally track!
We’d liked to have brought home this 1969 SL90 Vauxhall Viva Brabham Estate with tuned Viva HC engine – only the £12,500 price tag put us off. Derek Bowley’s Rover 216 GTI is an original Rover Motorsport car built for the Dunlop Challenge in 1990. He’s reluctantly offering it for sale at £5000. The true spirit of Race Retro is reflected in formerly everyday classics that went on to go rallying as exemplified by Mark Taber’s Volvo Amazon, Bronwyn Burrell’s Austin Maxi and Patricia Smith/Wright’s Austin 1800. Becky Savage from Coventry rated this 1971 VW Beetle, entered in the first Pride of the Paddock competition. Paul Harrison of the South Hants Model Auto Club displayed a diorama paying tribute to the 60th anniversary of Jaguar’s 1957 Le Mans victory.