Cars are the stars as Silverstone Classic prepares for sensational summer
- Racing legends regale media with stories of Mini and Capri heroics
- Modern-day ‘Bentley Boys’ Kristensen and Smith join the Preview party
- Paul Stewart speaks about motorsport’s role in the Race Against Dementia
- Early Bird ticket sales at record levels
The 2019 Silverstone Classic Preview yesterday (10 April) brought together a plethora of iconic marques and models celebrating special milestones this year and attracted a popular appearance from a true legend of the sport, as the event dubbed the ‘Glastonbury of motorsport’ revs up for its most spectacular summer to-date.
Firmly established as the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival, the Silverstone Classic – founded in 1990 – continues to go from strength-to-strength, as evidenced by an illustrious turnout at the iconic British Grand Prix venue today. Whilst the cars are invariably the stars at the Classic – and today’s Preview was no exception – a number of honorary guests added to the appeal for attending media.
Marking the centenary of famous British brand Bentley in 2019, nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen and Guy Smith – one of his team-mates in the triumphant 2003 Team Bentley entry – were reunited, with the former additionally taking to the wheel of a vintage model for a future magazine article as he launched a new ‘Twilight Tribute to Le Mans’ feature for Saturday night at the Classic. Smith climbed into the cockpit of Bentley’s latest GT3 model for some special tracking photography.
Similarly in the spotlight was another famous British motoring success story – the beloved Mini, which is sixty years young in 2019. This summer’s event will welcome a record-breaking double-header grid, bringing together more than 50 pre-1966 Minis. In homage to the original ‘pocket rocket’, Mini rallying and racing hero Paddy Hopkirk – reunited with his 1964 Monte Carlo Rally-winning car – was joined at the Preview by fellow period Mini racers Gordon Spice, Steve Neal and John Rhodes.
Spice is perhaps better known for his British Saloon Car Championship exploits behind the wheel of the Ford Capri, which turns 50 this year. A trophy named after the most successful Capri racer in history will be awarded to the highest-finishing Capri driver in the Historic Touring Car Challenge race at the Classic.
Special photo-calls and interviews were hosted by famous television personality and racing driver Tiff Needell – who will front the ITV4 coverage for this summer’s Classic alongside Louise Goodman – with Paul Stewart a particularly welcome guest as he spoke about the appointment of Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) as the event’s Official Charity Partner. This year’s Classic will raise funds for the Race Against Dementia Fellowships, an initiative founded by his father – three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart – and administered through ARUK.
Sir Jackie’s 1971 title-winning Tyrrell-Ford 003 was one of the stand-out highlights on display today, while the man himself will attend this summer’s Classic, half a century on from his first World Championship triumph and British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone in 1969.
Silverstone Auctions chose the occasion to reveal its star lot going under the hammer in July – a Gullwing Mercedes once owned by Team Lotus Formula 1 team manager Peter Warr.
On the track, more than 150 cars offered a tantalising foretaste of some of the high-octane action to come at the end of July, while the new Aston Martin Heritage Racing Festival Series was out in force as it prepares to make its debut at this summer’s Classic. The HSCC Historic Formula 2 International Series is another newcomer to the Silverstone Classic bill, and was well-represented at the Preview. Many of the record number of car clubs celebrating landmark model and marque anniversaries were also present, including Abarth, the Austin Healey 3000, Middlebridge Scimitar and Triumph TR6.
All those wishing to attend this summer’s Silverstone Classic must purchase their tickets in advance, with adult admission starting at £45.