Retro makes leap for­ward

Es­tab­lished mo­tor­sport show gets a shot in the arm

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Out & About - David Brown

’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.­seum).

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.

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