This edition of the annual historic motorsport celebration was a rare event for me. I was a ‘punter’ rather than a trader and doesn’t it look different from the other side of the counter!
Last time I was at RACE RETRO, several years ago, I was single handed on the stand, stuck in a corner , no view beyond the trader opposite and feeling like one of those lab rats in a maze. It snowed as I was setting up and it snowed as I went for chips on the first night back at the B&B in Kenilworth. All I really saw of the show was what I passed on the way to or from the car each morning and evening. The company was good , met some great people and had some invaluable help from fellow stall holders, but the event was claustrophobic and by the Saturday afternoon I was aching to get packed up and go home to see my two young daughters…and there were still 24 hours left to go!
Fast forward to February 2017 and it’s so much easier to just turn up and wander round with a camera ad a carrier bag! Again the company was terrific . With so many familiar faces to meet and greet it took a long time to get around and see eveything. In fact I’m sure I missed about a quarter of it, but it was more interesting to yarn and do the odd deal than cover every aisle.
Among those I saw was author Mike Allen who’s just published a book on the OULTON PARK GOLD CUP race, which brought top line F1,F2 and F5000 to the Cheshire circuit in the 50s,60s and 70s. He used a lot of photos from our archives and the book has been in the pipeline for a long time so it was great to meet him and pick up a copy. The Gold Cup was my late father’s favourite event. Appropriately there were a couple of F1 Surtees cars on display and one of them was the 1971 race winner that John Surtees himself had driven and my Dad had watched. Nearby was the Vincent Grey Flash from early in his previous career in 2 wheels. Writing this in early March it’s suddenly rather poignant as the great man, John Surtees, has just left us. His legacy, the only world title winner on bikes and in cars, will be with us forever as there really is almost no chance it will ever be matched in future. Bike racers no longer switch to F1 as they once did. And then there are all those TT wins to account for and a Can Am title… “Big John” packed a lot into his life.
Near the Surtees display was a wonderfully unrestored (orif you prefer, rusty…) Lotus 33 which was raced by his contemporary and fellow F1 world champion Jim Clark. This one had been Jim’s Belgian GP winner in 1965 and hadn’t seen the light of day in nearly 40 years!
And just across the way was a Lotus 49 in GOLD LEAF livery, Jim raced one like this just before his death in 1968 , but only in the Tasman series. Team mate Graham Hill picked up the team by the scruff of it’s neck after Jim’s shocking demise and delivered a world title that just might have been the difference between Lotus staying in F1 and leaing the arena for good – team boss Colin Chapman apparantly gave it serious thought in those dark spring days 49 years ago as Lotus F1 cars were changing from traditional green to gaudy (but attractive) multi coloured sponsors colours. This one is R10 which Rindt used in the 1969 Tasman series, Hill won with at Monaco and later crashed in at the US GP where he mangled his legs. Oddly he then drove the rebuolt R10 at Monaco in 1970 in Rob Walker colours… then Fittipaldi drove it (back in Gold Leaf livery) late in 1970. Thats a lot of world champions for a single car to boast on it’s CV!
One other lotus caught my eye, a 1970 F3 type 59 in the patriotic livery of Brazilian future F1 star Carlos Pace .
What a gloriously mechanical device this was. A million miles away from today’s carbon fibre and carefully enclosed componants. The little Lotus has everything on dispay, in metal, welded and bolted together. I enthused about this to a freind nearby who laughed at me taking shots like this (right) “Thats such a boy-shot!” she said. Boy-shot? What does that mean?
One car that was close to my heart was the Soper/Dickson TWR Rover Vitesse touring car that ran at Bathurst (or was it Wellington?) in the mid 1980s . I rallied a Rover. I love them. This car tugged the heart strings.
I also love the 6 wheel Tyrrell P34. I was ten when this one (above right) raced in early 1977 and it’s hard to over-rate how much of a headline grabber the car was at the time. Kids at school who had no interest in F1 were putting stickers of this one on thier exercise books. I remember someone’s leather football plastered all over with some kind of trade stamps (Green Shield-style) that you could get at your local ELF stations. F1 is missing a trick by outlawing all the innovative thinking, or at least any visible innovative thinking. Electronics and hybrid tehcnology hidden away out of sight just do not cut the mustard. No ‘boy shots’ of those things worth taking! Will we enthuse over present day F3 Dallaras and cookie-cutter hybrid F1 cars in 30 years time? I doubt it.
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