A HIS­TORY OF This year the His­toric Sports Car Club is cel­e­brat­ing 50 years. Paul Lawrence traces the story of one of the UK’S best or­gan­is­ing rac­ing clubs

Motor Sport News - - Hscc At 50 - Pho­tos: Paul Lawrence VIEWS ON­THE HSCC

The foun­da­tions of the HSCC were laid early in 1966 when mo­tor rac­ing pho­tog­ra­pher Guy Grif­fiths de­cided to tackle the grow­ing loss of no­table 1950s sports-rac­ing cars from the UK, mainly to the USA. There was nowhere for them to race and Grif­fiths wanted to do some­thing about the sit­u­a­tion.

From that idea he de­vel­oped the Grif­fiths For­mula for cars up to 1955 and the in­au­gu­ral race was held at Cas­tle Combe in May 1966. It was won by Neil Cor­ner’s Jaguar D-type and an en­try of 25 cars showed that there was de­mand for the con­cept. More races were run over the next two sea­sons and, with Frazer Nash racer Betty Haig heav­ily in­volved, the His­toric Sports Car Club was formed.

Through the 1970s the club steadily de­vel­oped de­spite lim­ited funds, but rac­ing was only one part of its ac­tiv­i­ties as other events of­fered the chance for non-rac­ing mem­bers to use their cars on tours and at so­cial gath­er­ings. This was a time when his­toric rac­ing was in its for­ma­tive stage, mainly thanks to the high-pro­file JCB His­toric Cham­pi­onship.

The late Brian Cocks, who took over as chair­man in 1978, steered the club to­wards a full fo­cus on rac­ing. His key elec­tion pledge was that the club would be­come a race or­gan­iser and in April 1982 the first HSCC race meet­ing was held at Don­ing­ton Park.

Lit­tle by lit­tle, the club’s cut-off date was be­ing ad­vanced too and was soon re­set at 1971. Through the 1980s, the port­fo­lio of cham­pi­onships grew and in­cluded Pre ’65 Sin­gle-seaters, His­toric GT, Clas­sic Sports (now the Guards Tro­phy) and Post-his­toric Road Sports. Four or five race meet­ings were or­gan­ised each sea­son, topped by a two­day in­ter­na­tional event at Don­ing­ton Park. The pa­tron­age of John Foul­ston, boss of At­lantic Com­put­ers and soon to be the new owner of the Brands Hatch group of cir­cuits, helped move that event to Brands Hatch and the His­toric Su­per­prix was born.

Foul­ston be­came a sig­nif­i­cant player in HSCC ac­tiv­i­ties and his com­pany spon­sored the club’s high pro­file His­toric GT Cham­pi­onship. Foul­ston won the fledg­ling Pre ’71 Sin­gle-seater Cham­pi­onship twice in the mid-1980s in his Mclaren M19 grand prix car be­fore be­ing killed at Sil­ver­stone in 1987 when test­ing a Mclaren Indy­car. Foul­ston’s death was the cat­a­lyst for change and Cocks, who had moved from the role of chair­man to the re­tained po­si­tion of CEO, ended his term at the tail end of the 1980s.

Steve Ly­don took over the reins and worked hard on de­vel­op­ing the Thor­ough­bred Grand Prix se­ries, but the fi­nan­cial bur­den of such high pro­file ac­tiv­ity took its toll on the club and when Nick Over­all was elected as chair­man in 1995 he soon re­alised that the club was tee­ter­ing on the brink of fi­nan­cial col­lapse. The per­ma­nent of­fice at King­ton Lan­g­ley in Wilt­shire was sold and debts were cleared, while back­ing from Chevron racer Richard Budge through his RJB Min­ing busi­ness gave the club some work­ing cap­i­tal.

Hav­ing re­grouped the club’s ac­tiv­i­ties, which in­cluded al­low­ing TGP to move un­der the con­trol of Bob Ber­ridge, Over­all’s mas­ter­stroke was re­cruit­ing Gra­hame White into the role of CEO. White said no ini­tially, but af­ter a year of dis­cus­sion and per­sua­sion he fi­nally took the role in 1997.

The en­su­ing 20 years un­der White’s gen­tly per­sua­sive and highly ef­fec­tive man­age­ment have been a golden era for the HSCC. White and the team he has built around him, in­clud­ing com­pe­ti­tions sec­re­tary Alan Jones, have steered the club to sig­nif­i­cant pros­per­ity and a prom­i­nent po­si­tion within his­toric rac­ing.

More cham­pi­onships were added through the 1990s, no­tably for His­toric FF1600, Clas­sic F3 and His­toric Tour­ing Cars, while Road Sports evolved into two se­ries for His­toric and 70s cars. The Pre ’71 cham­pi­onship was the fore­run­ner of the cur­rent Derek Bell Tro­phy, while the Pre ’65 Sin­gle Seater Cham­pi­onship even­tu­ally mor­phed into Clas­sic Rac­ing Cars.

More re­cent ad­di­tions to the club’s port­fo­lio in­clude His­toric For­mula F2000, His­toric F3 and Clas­sic Club­mans, while a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ship with For­mula Ju­nior puts the cat­e­gory on most HSCC pro­grammes. Or­ganic growth has served the club well and will surely con­tinue in an ever-chang­ing arena.

White’s pas­sion for F2, as well as his pe­riod role in the man­age­ment of the cat­e­gory, made the Europe-wide His­toric For­mula 2 se­ries a per­fect fit when it needed a new home, and the Su­per Tour­ing Tro­phy joined the port­fo­lio on the back of its suc­cess at the Sil­ver­stone Clas­sic. The Pre ’80 En­durance Se­ries and the Jaguar Clas­sic Chal­lenge are the lat­est ad­di­tions, and there are plenty of classes aimed squarely at the ama­teur week­end racer run­ning on lim­ited funds from an es­tate car and trailer.

Over the last decade, mem­ber­ship has main­tained steady growth and has topped the 1000 mark. As well as a full sched­ule of rac­ing for its own cat­e­gories, the HSCC is also the race or­gan­is­ing club for the Don­ing­ton His­toric Fes­ti­val, the Sil­ver­stone Clas­sic and the Wal­ter Hayes Tro­phy.

Peo­ple like Guy Grif­fiths and Betty Haig would not recog­nise his­toric rac­ing to­day, but their en­thu­si­asm and vi­sion set the scene for the devel­op­ment of a true gem in British mo­tor rac­ing. The HSCC has come a very long way in 50 years and this week­end’s cel­e­bra­tions at Cas­tle Combe will mark the an­niver­sary in style. ■

Clas­sic For­mula 3 is part of im­pres­sive cur­rent line-up

Cor­ner’s Jag D-type won first race Thor­ough­bred GP con­trib­uted to club’s fi­nan­cial prob­lems

Racer Foul­ston was key fig­ure

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