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Castle Combe Autumn Classic

REPORT: A beautiful day and great racing bring out the crowds.

Castle Combe Autumn Classic

Dawn rain made way for sunshine and blue skies as classic Aston Martins, big Healeys and Pre-1966 Jaguars took to Castle Combe’s unforgiving wet and slippery track for early morning practice. Some hairy moments sent more adrenalin pumping than black coffee ever could. The track soon dried much to the relief of the runners and riders in Bernie’s V8s, which comprised of a thunderous collection of big banger Yank Tanks, a steroidal Aston Martin, Capri Perana, Sunbeam Tiger, MGB V8, TVR and a Maserati Bora. By late morning, conditions were perfect as the Vintage Sports Car Club members came out to qualify. They hadn’t been to Castle Combe for several decades, and it was good to see them back.

Once the grid positions had been established, the crowd were treated to a few fast laps by Julian Bronson’s glorious 1960 Scarab Grand Prix car, one of just three built by Lance Reventlow in America to take on the Europeans in their own back yard.

As the seven races got underway at one o’clock, the track perimeter was lined with people slapping on sun cream and licking ice cream cones - in October! Star driver Anthony Reid, resplendent in flat cap, was racing a couple of Nigel Webb’s Jaguars and he said ‘This is great. There are more people here than at last weekend’s GT race at Donington’. Reid totally dominated the pre-’66 Jaguar race in his red E-type to such an extent that mid race he appeared to be taking a breather to let the others catch up a bit. Sharing with Webb, they then went on to breeze the two driver 1950s Intermarque race, romping home almost thirty seconds clear of Nigel Bancroft’s Lotus Elite. That’s one quick C-type and two quick drivers!

There were several overseas entries at the meeting and in the Big Healey Challenge, the first two places went to Anders Schildt from Sweden, followed by Jaap Sinke from the Netherlands. Another team from Holland took part in Bernie’s V8s with their Dodge and Camaro. What a great sight this pack of growling V8s made as they charged away from the flag on their rolling start but it was the Capri Perana of Andrew Haddon who showed the way home. Poor Bernie Chodosh, the organiser of this new series, saw his beloved Corvette thumping the tyre wall with Mark Wright at the helm. The VSCC field was, as expected, quite diverse with tiny three wheel Morgans sharing the tarmac with Talbots, Lagondas, Astons, Rileys, Bugattis et al. Patrick Blakeney-Edwards in his bizarre, slip-sliding Frazer Nash coupe tried hard but couldn’t catch the HRG of pole sitter Andrew Mitchell or the twin rear tyred Jaguar SS100 of winner Ton McWhirter.

Chris Woodgate won the Historic Aston Martin race in his DB3 and as the sun went to bed, Tim Pearce’s Morgan won the Twilight Challenge. What a great day, due in part to the lovely weather. Let’s hope that Historics become a regular feature at Castle Combe, but maybe a little earlier in the season?

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Castle Combe Autumn Classic
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