Cas­tle Combe’s key mo­ments

From wins for Moss and Hawthorn to a 1994 Tyrrell smash­ing the lap record, there have been plenty of mem­o­rable oc­ca­sions in the cir­cuit’s long his­tory


We pick out the most sig­nif­i­cant events from the track’s his­tory


Cas­tle Combe was Eng­land’s most west­erly cir­cuit when the Bris­tol Mo­tor Cy­cle & Light Car Club or­gan­ised its first race meet­ing on the dis­used airfield, for cars and mo­tor­cy­cles, be­hind closed doors on 8 July 1950 – a month be­fore Gre­gor Grant pub­lished the first is­sue of Au­tosport. Although David­stow in Corn­wall hosted events from 1952-55, Combe en­dured, through var­i­ous hia­tuses, to be the pop­u­lar venue it is to­day.

Early stars in­cluded Stir­ling Moss, Peter Collins, Mike Hawthorn – who won twice on his de­but in 1951, driv­ing Ri­leys, and would be Formula 1 world cham­pion with Fer­rari in­side seven years – and Ken Whar­ton.

Moss was ejected from his Cooper 500 in Oc­to­ber 1953, hav­ing clipped Tony Rolt’s F2 Con­naught at Quarry. Whar­ton shat­tered the out­right lap record that day in a shrill BRM V16, leav­ing it at 1m13.6s (89mph). Some 20,000 spec­ta­tors wit­nessed it, un­der­lin­ing en­thu­si­asts’ thirst for racing and the fledg­ling venue.


Con­cerned that ob­so­lete sports-racing cars were be­ing sold in­ex­pen­sively and ex­ported from Great Bri­tain, em­i­nent mo­tor­sport pho­tog­ra­pher

Guy Griffiths ad­dressed the sit­u­a­tion pos­i­tively, leav­ing a legacy for en­thu­si­asts to savour to this day.

His ‘Griffiths Formula’ ini­tia­tive was a mech­a­nism de­signed to give own­ers of some fan­tas­tic cars, which were lit­tle more than a decade old, the op­por­tu­nity to com­pete and rea­son to keep them.

The in­au­gu­ral race at Cas­tle Combe in May 1966 – won by Neil Cor­ner in his ex-works/ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-type XKD 504 (right), from Chris War­wick Drake (Lo­tus-bris­tol X) and John Le Sage (As­ton Martin DB3S) – laid the His­toric Sports Car Club’s foun­da­tion stone.

The event was run jointly by the Frazer Nash and Porsche Clubs, parts of the AFN Ltd ‘fam­ily’ in Isle­worth, which owned the cir­cuit. That im­por­tant link is why the HSCC’S logo still fea­tures an iconic Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica.


Sportscar racing was on a par with sin­gle-seater com­pe­ti­tion at

Cas­tle Combe in the 1950s. As­ton Martin’s fu­ture Le Mans win­ner Roy Sal­vadori was the stand­out of the for­mer genre, driv­ing Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica, Maserati A6GCS, Jaguar C-type and DB3S with gusto. But Squadron Leader Ge­orge Abecassis – part­ner with John Heath in Her­sham and Wal­ton Mo­tors, whose HWM mar­que com­peted in sportscar and F2 races – won the Redex Tro­phy in­ter­na­tional race in Oc­to­ber 1955 af­ter Sal­vadori’s As­ton broke.

Driv­ing an Hwm-jaguar, Abecassis (left) beat 1950 Le Mans victor Louis Rosier in a Fer­rari 750 Monza – by a fifth of a sec­ond in a photo fin­ish with the French­man! Noel Cun­ning­ham-reid in an­other HWM fin­ished third.

Abecassis’s grand­son Jonathan is a reg­u­lar com­peti­tor at the Au­tumn Clas­sic. Last Oc­to­ber he won the Fiscar In­ter­mar­que race at the wheel of his left-hand-drive Austin-healey 100/4.


Cas­tle Combe hosted the sec­ond Formula Ford race in July 1967, won by Dan Hawkes in a Lo­tus 51. The Bri­tish Racing and Sports Car Club South Western cen­tre – with Howard Straw­ford now at its helm – launched a cham­pi­onship in 1969, also tak­ing in rounds at Llandow in South Wales.

FF1600 has con­sis­tently pro­vided some of the great­est racing at the Chip­pen­ham venue, with four-time cham­pi­ons Bob Hig­gins (Martlets, Royale RP29A and Rey­nard 91FF) and Gavin Wills (Van Diemens and Swift) and ti­tle hat-trick win­ners Kevin Mills and Josh Fisher its lead­ing alumni.

Hig­gins still com­petes (left) along­side his two lads, Adam twice cham­pion him­self, tak­ing the fam­ily haul to six. That’s a to­tal matched by the Fish­ers, Josh’s late fa­ther Brian hav­ing snared three Combe Spe­cial GT cham­pi­onships in Shrike P16 and Skoda 130RS ma­chin­ery.

Mills’s suc­cess­ful team has in­vari­ably been among the fron­trun­ners with sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions of driv­ers and con­tin­ues to gun for more.

Moss was among the stars to race at Combe in the early days, along with Hawthorn and Collins

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.