Silverstone Classic 2018; 20th – 22nd July
2016 – 2018 FJ Diamond Jubilee World Tour Finale Event
The sky is the limit when you dream big, and that’s exactly what Duncan did when he conceived the FJ Diamond Jubilee World Tour.
For 3 years the Tour visited 13 countries and concluded at the Silverstone Classic for its 30th event. The largest number of FJ cars ever were assembled together, 112 on track, and 117 on display! It was a simply stunning sight, and an awesome atmosphere!
The on-track action featured racing on a mega scale, topped off with a 2 lap parade; the view from the end of the hanger straight as they came round was a magnificent never ending vista of our wonderful little cars.
The racing was divided into 2 grids, for ‘58-‘60 (FIA Period E) and ‘61-‘63 cars (FIA Period F).
First up on Friday morning were the earlier cars, with 58 out to qualify. It was 2016 Goodwood winner Andrew Hibberd in the Lola Mk 2 of Nick Grewal who set the fastest time. When the safety car came out mid session, to move the John Williams driven Cooper-Lancia from its stricken position at right angles to the track having suffered a transmission failure, Andrew pitted, later rejoining with a clear track to set his pole time. Will Mitcham (U2 Mk 2), Chris Drake (Terrier) and Peter de la Roche (Lola Mk 2) made up the first 2 rows, with the pair of Condor S II’s on row 3. Fastest of the early rear engined drum braked Class C cars Miles Griffiths in 11th spot in the de Silva Lotus 18, and Robert Barrie (Stanguellini) started the race 24th as the leading Italian Class A entry.
The ‘61-‘63 qualifying session was just a couple of hours later, and a number of drivers were out again in their later cars. Also Pete Morton and Tim de Silva were trying to improve on their Dads’ grid positions, with both doing so, Tim placing himself in second, behind the ultimate FJ Silverstone racer, Sam Wilson, who wasted no time in booking pole position with his 1st flying lap. Chris Drake, this time in his Elva 300, was the fastest in Class D.
Friday evening and the heavens opened, somewhat of an unfortunate tradition at the Classic, the timing coinciding with the concerts, in full swing.
Being first out on Saturday morning, our pleas to the Clerk were thankfully answered, and the half lap out of the National Paddock into the rolling start at the International Straight was upgraded to a full sighting lap to locate puddles and damp areas, before the Safety car pulled in, the goosebumps came out, and the 2 by 2 formation rolled through club corner for the 2nd time, and off to a racing start. The capacity 54-car grid was led into the first corner by poleman Andrew Hibberd, but by the end of lap 1 it was Chris Drake ahead, and by lap 2, Mitcham was past too. As the race progressed however, the leaders were starting to meet the back of the pack, who were having battles of their own. Andrew, already down in 3rd by this point, lost out and ran wide, and never regained his pace, finishing up 10th. Miles, first race in the Lotus 18, soon found his feet after initial easing in laps, and started to pick off the earlier front engined cars one by one, finishing just 0.1 seconds behind Chris Drake at the line. It was Will Mitcham who took the win for the Jim Clark Trophy Race, elated after what he described as his best ever race in the family U2 Mk 2, with father Brian there to cheer him on. Recent FJ returnee, Robert Barrie, in the blue Stanguellini led home the other Class A car of Tom de Gres.
A prime-time midday slot was given for the Denny Hulme Trophy Race, and it certainly thrilled! Sam Wilson (Lotus 20/22) was one who was pleased with the rolling start requirement at this event, being the first to admit that standing starts aren’t his strong point, and after the half a lap green flag out to the start, he was up to full speed with Tim de Silva (Brabham BT2) on his tail. In fact, there were almost 5 or more abreast before they filed into Abbey. Sadly Andy Willis (Lotus 20/22) was a little over enthusiastic from 12th, clipping the Alexis Mk4, then taking out Westie Mitchell’s De Tomaso when he locked up late braking, the Lotus and De Tomaso retiring. However back on track, there were amazing scenes on the big screens around the circuit as throughout the grid, there were cars paired up, seemingly into 2-seater 8-wheeled machines, slip streaming each other to try to get the advantages. Tim was never more than half a second down on Sam with Jon Milicevic (Merlyn Mk 5/7) chasing Mark Shaw (Brabham BT6) for 3rd. Jon had just got ahead on lap 6 before the safety car came out, after Stuart Roach (Alexis Mk 4) and James Murray (Lola Mk 5A) had touched, the angle of contact sending James into a spectacular but miraculously harmless roll from which he walked away, without so much as a bruise, testament to the importance of a strong roll bar.
Unfortunately, when the safety car was deployed, it came out too late and missed the leading pack, and the otherwise exciting race, ran out unchanged still under SC to the end. Chris Drake took a convincing drum braked Class D win with an overall finishing position of 13th.
Sunday was again a glorious day, with no overnight rain this time, and the grids were switched, with the Period F ’61 – ’63 cars heading out for the Jochen Rindt Trophy in the 9am slot.
With qualifying times again deciding the grids, it was Sam Wilson (Lotus 20/22) on the front row alongside Tim de Silva (Brabham BT2), but all eyes were on the back of the grid to see the charge from Cameron Jackson (Brabham BT2). Cameron had suffered a broken throttle cable in qualifying, so with no time he was placed at the back of the grid. In Race 1 he’d made it to 7th when the SC came out, so he knew he could make a good challenge for the podium. Sam and Tim set off in very close pursuit again, with Pete Morton (Lightning Envoyette) 3rd by lap 4, and Cameron already up to 10th. As they hit the traffic, Nick Fennell (Lotus 27) and Mark Shaw (Brabham BT6) were braver than Pete through traffic, and he was back down to 5th, and next lap round unfortunately saw the lead battle over, as Tim limped into retirement having lost three gears. Pete didn’t give up however, and secured a well-deserved 3rd, but rightly awarded ‘Motor Sport Driver of the Weekend’ was Cameron Jackson who finished an incredible 2nd. Equally amazing was Sam taking his 11th consecutive FJ victory at the Silverstone Classic.
The final FJ race of the weekend, the John Surtees Trophy, was back to where FJ began, with the ’58 – ’60 grid, and poleman Andrew Hibberd had returned to base overnight to get some replacement parts for the Lola Mk 2, loaned by Nick Grewal. It proved a very worthwhile trip, as the car was immediately handling much better, and Andrew took the victory from the start, but Will Mitcham (U2 Mk 2) in 2nd was never very far behind, especially at the end. The podium was finished off by Chris Drake (Terrier Mk 4 Series 1).
To close our magical World Tour, we had a packed prizegiving in our garages on Sunday lunchtime, with very special guest Francisca “Cica” Lurani, daughter of our founding father Count “Johnny” Lurani, giving a touching speech about what the weekend had meant to her.
In addition to the Class Trophies for the weekend’s racing, the awards for the final Sector of the Tour were presented by Neil Arundell, in memory of his father Peter, whom the Sector was named after, and then to finish things off, the overall World Tour winner presentations were made.
Bill Sadler presented the Bill Sadler Trophy for the Front Engined winner; Jac Nellemann.
Joy Lord presented the John Lord Trophy for the Drum Braked winner; Chris Drake.
Peter Procter presented the Peter Procter Trophy for the Disc Braked winner; Marty Bullock.
Howden Ganley crowned Chris Drake the overall Howden Ganley Trophy winner.
We were honoured to also have a number of our other Period drivers visit us during the weekend, including our President Doctor Tony Goodwin, BRDC President Paddy Hopkirk, Len Selby, Jeremy Bouckley, John Greenwood, John Mew, Jon Goddard-Watts, Richard Utley (also racing) and Hugh Mayes.
With 32 FJ marques in attendance, and drivers from all over the world, FJ diversity was rich and rewarding both on and off the track. Long live FJ : )