Most Historic Grand Prix; 12 – 14 May 2017

The Most Historic Grand Prix 12/13/14th May 2017

The Most circuit in, then, Czechoslovakia hosted Historic racing back in the Communist era, and the FIA Lurani Trophy ran here for three years in the early 2000s, when Skoda pickup racing provided one of the alternate grids, and racing Trabants were to be seen. Then in 2008, the terminal speeds on the pit straight were deemed too dangerous and a chicane was installed, which increased the lap time, and makes it a slow climb thereafter, but the sweeping back part of the Circuit remains unaltered, attractive, and a fair challenge, while the track and its facilities rank among the very best.

FIA Rally and Historic Hill-Climb supremo Stan Minarik has always been our linkman at Most, and with both the Circuit and the Hnevin Castle under new ownership, he welcomed both Formula Junior and HGPCA to the first Historic GP of the new decade, and Le Mans winner, Jurgen Barth, himself son of F1 driver, Edgar Barth, celebrating 40 years from his historic victory when he coaxed his ailing Porsche to the finish after two dramatic last laps.

The HGPCA grid was split between their sponsors, the Arbuthnot Latham Trophy for the pre 61 cars, and the Supagard Trophy for pre 65, and although the total number of runners would have fitted into the Lurani grid with room to spare, all four HGPCA races were excellent contests, and most enjoyable to watch. Without a shadow of doubt, the main excitement was the appearance of the no 2 chassis CTA- Arsenal of Josef Rettenmaier, instead of his 250F. This truly magical car has NEVER finished a race!! This was France’s National racing car, the equivalent of BRM, and almost as complicated, and underfunded. But the debut story of both is uncanny : BOTH broke their driveshafts on the line on their debut race, driven by the same driver, Raymond Sommer. Here at Most, a number of problems intervened, but it ran in every session, and to see Josef’s determined driving in the wet, overtaking cars round the outside sweep was simply terrific- but a race finish must wait another day.

Pre 61, and Guillemo Fierro was impressive on both days in Maserati 250F 2523, comfortably ahead of Paul Grant’s Cooper-Bristol in the dry, with the similar Cooper of a determined Steve Russell, equally secure in 3rd. Albert Streminski in the Emeryson had spun away his chances at the Chicane early on, so it was a great race battle , with Ian Nuttall’s Cooper-Bristol nibbling at the tail of John Bussey’s rear engine later model. Valiant runner was Melbourne visitor, John Gillett, his MG much lightened after all lights, guards et al had been removed

Next day, the weather was truly Biblical for this grid, and all the more impressive was Fierro, initially well in control, but Paul Grant was on top form, and gradually reduced the gap to an exciting photo finish. Klaus Lehr had been an early retirement in Race 1, in his CM 250F, so starting from the back of the grid, he displaced Steve Russell for third, while Ian Nuttall finally got the better of John Bussey, who had a race long view of Streminski in his mirrors, close behind.

The “rears” were more fortunate with the weather, and in race 1, Peter Horsman in his ex-Parnell 20/21 dominated again, with Barry Cannell getting ever more comfortable in his BT11 drawing away from Rod Jolley, whose three wheel cornering of this GP beast around the back sweeps drew smiles and gasps in equal measure from astonished Czech spectators. Philipp Buhofer in his rarest of minnows, the SCA engine Lotus 44 F2 monocoque broke his throttle cable just as he was about to pass Larry Kinch’s earlier 32 in Tasman B trim.

Race 2 on Sunday was almost a different story, with James King’s F1 BT7 working through from mid grid, but not before Andrew Beaumont’s ex- UDT Lotus 24 had momentarily taken the lead before retirement. Ahead of Cannell, James was right after Peter Horsman on the last lap, but Peter held on to win by just 0.6 of a second. Rod Jolley was still dramatic in 4th, while Eddie Perk in the grown up FJ Heron, an excellent 5th.

The Eastern Europeans put on some excellent racing in their Historic Formula Easter and Formula Mondial races, with chassis largely from Estonia and Melkus, while Adam Klus in his March, rather outclassed the other local chassis on the Czech Trophy grid.

But it was the Lurani grid, especially on the damp track in Race 2, which provided greatest excitement.

Cumbrian solicitor, James Murray, is an irregular Lurani competitor in his ex-Winklemann Lola 5A, but for Race1, he edged clear of Manfredo Rossi (22) on the front row; 3rd spot should have been the other 5A, of Philipp Buhofer, but he was docked two grid places for white line infringements. So Murray led away for Race 1, from Rossi and John Fyda (BT6), and these positions remained, although Murray and Rossi were close throughout. Beaumont (22) was initially 4th, but slipped back after a spin into a race long three car battle with JP Campos Costa (Lola 5) and Class D leader, Bruno Weibel in Peter Studer’s 20, positions changing nearly every lap to the flag.  Buhofer got up to 4th, and Tonetti who had dropped to 9th on lap one, recovering to follow him home. Another great battle down the field was the side by side, lap after lap, in Class D between James Hicks’ Caravelle and US fly in, John Delane in his 18, eventually settled only when Hicks, with loose filler cap, ran out of petrol on the penultimate lap.

The track was slippery for Race 2 on Sunday. James Murray came round after one lap with a sizeable lead, but Rossi was alongside after 3 laps and ahead on the 4th, when James slid through the chicane escape road, and emerged comfortably ahead thereafter. Rossi spun twice, and Buhofer thrice, and Beaumont revolving once in sympathy, leaving the experienced Fyda to chase Murray: they were almost together with two laps to go, right up next time, and side by side at the flag, with Murray still getting the verdict. Behind these two, Tonetti and Rossi were even closer, Rossi just failing to recover his podium position, while the Caravelle / 18 battle continued, to the flag this time, Hicks only 0.2 s behind Delane. Impressive performance was from Brisbane’s Dr Nick Daunt in his ex-USA import Taraschi, first time out since a rebuild by Iain Rowley, and running faultlessly all weekend.

No report of the weekend would be complete without mention of the Saturday night party at the Castle. All guests were bussed from track or hotels to Castle Hnevin, which stands on a pinnacle with imposing view of Most. Welcome drink and canapes preceded speeches, all on time, and a presentation to Jurgen. Then the splendid food was unveiled, far enough for all, and more. Good camaraderie, and a stupendous firework display concluded the evening: one of the best ever.