Despite an enforced 2020 lockdown sabbatical, the 2021 Silverstone Classic bounced back with renewed style and vigor, encouraging record crowds, capacity grids and quintessential British weather, which failed to dampen participant’s enthusiasm.
Challenging racing conditions, umbrellas and mud underfoot were the order of the weekend on Silverstone’s track and expansive infield zones.
Central to this 30th anniversary Classic’s themes, the Jaguar E type’s 60th birthday. A car synonymous with British 1960s style and triumph on both circuit and trendy streets of London since it burst on the scene at the Geneva motor show March 1961.
Such was the success of the big cat’s Swiss unveiling that a roadster – reg 77 RW – was rushed across the Alps overnight from Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory in Coventry to Geneva, driven by fabled test driver Norman Dewis to provide the international motoring press more access to the groundbreaking British sportscar.
Also celebrating a 60th birthday was another 60s legend, BMC’s versatile Mini Cooper, while John DeLorean’s stylish gull-winged coupe reached 30 and perhaps not unconnected, Lotus’s typically spartan Elise made 25.
Meanwhile, Silverstone looked at its glorious summer best with quick-fire and frantic action on the ‘Home of British Motor Racing’s’ ultra-quick 3.7-mile Grand Prix circuit during a packed race card, efficiently managed by the Historic Sports Car Club.
But it wasn’t just the cars that formed a focal point for the weekend. Motoring celebrities too abounded throughout the 3-day historic jamboree, including 1996 British F1 world champion Damon Hill, reunited with his Rothmans liveried, championship winning Williams FW 18/Renault for some quick demonstration laps, professionally run by Williams Heritage.
Other former F1 drivers present included Martin Brundle and Tiff Needell, who were both participating, along with Le Mans 24-Hour winners Guy Smith and Andre Lotterer, together with former Benetton F1 driver Emmanuel Collard racing an iconic LMP2 Porsche RS Spyder in the two 40-minute Masters historic series endurance legends races against opposition which included the stunning Peugeot 908, MG-Lola EX257 and French Courage-Judd LC75. Perennial Silverstone favorite Jonny Herbert was also on hand to sign autographs for the many fans.
Other races which proved popular with the knowledgeable Silverstone spectators included thrilling encounters for Historic Touring Cars, Formula 2 single seaters and Appendix K prepared Mini Cooper S models from the golden mid-sixties’ era, while the BRDC 500 race for pre-war sports cars was won by the well-driven Frazier Nash TT replica of Blakeney-Edward’s/Wakeman.
Among the large variety of entertainment available in Silverstone’s infield, which had adopted a carnival-like atmosphere, was a full-size funfair, racing simulators, classic car & motorcycle auction sales, a wall of death, innumerable car club displays, drifting, hot air balloons, live music concerts, and a vast array of food outlets to suit all tastes and appetites – literally!
Just two short weeks after Lewis Hamilton’s memorable British Grand Prix victory enthralled over 140,0000 F1 fans, the 30th Silverstone Classic delivered another memorable running of what must now be considered the largest global historic motor racing festival, long may it continue.
© Words & images by Ken Davies, Silverstone Classic