Masters Historic Racing celebrated its 2008 season winners on Saturday January 17 at the Speedmaster Conference Centre. These unusual awards are not points based, but voted for by the Masters’ members themselves, rewarding a combination of driving skill with presentation, sporting behaviour and the correct spirit.
Grand Prix Masters for pre-1978 GP cars, had its most successful season yet, with over 50 different F1 cars competing. One of the most evocative cars in the series, and one of the most rapidly-driven, is the Martini-liveried Brabham BT42 of Manfredo Rossi di Montelera, who was voted Grand Prix Masters Driver of the Year.
In addition to recognising some fabulous racing in all classes of the Masters GT category, Masters awarded the Gentleman Drivers GT and Sports Endurance Driver of the Year award to Keith Ahlers for his efforts in his Morgan, co-driven and prepared by Billy Bellinger.
Sports car racing is a key element of Masters Historic Racing and the World Sportscar Masters Driver of the Year award went to the rapid and versatile Scotsman Andrew Smith, who enjoyed a superb season in his Lola T70. Andrew’s versatility was highlighted by him racing Jaguar E-Types, Lola T70s and a Formula 1 Hesketh in 2008!
Sports Racing Masters began with a car-damaging event at Thruxton but also showcased great racing and great cars, but against the big-bangers were ranged some giant-killing smaller-engined sports cars, such as the Peter Trewern-engineered Elva Mk 7S of Mark and Andrew Owen who were voted Sports Racing Master Drivers of the Year
The name Mann is synonymous with touring car racing, made famous in the 1960s by Alan Mann, and his son Henry took the Stars of the 70s Driver of the Year award for his efforts in his Ford Capri. Oldies but Goldies, the class for cars of the 1950s, also voted for their award winner, as Driver of the Year and Austin A40 driver Richard Postins claimed that for the second year, after some spectacular driving in 2008.
The popular Top Hat Pre-1966 Saloon series continued to provide enormous grids and spectacular racing which thrilled audiences in the UK and abroad. A mainstay of the historic saloon scene, John Young, was voted Top Hat Driver of the Year. Elsewhere, the Cloth Cap Driver of the Year was voted as Chris Scragg for his races in an E type Jaguar.
Two drivers jointly won the Masters “Spirit of the Season” Award – both Moscow-based Roger Wills (who raced in a variety of cars with a variety of fortunes, in addition to racking up many frequent flyer points....) and Triumph TR4 racer Michael Pearson who never missed a meeting in his immaculate British sports car were the first ever joint winners. Michael and his family were enthusiastic supporters of several classes of Masters and Top Hat racing throughout the 2008 season.
The final award, the Preparer of the Year, was clinched by Steve Farthing of Wren Classics, someone who races with Masters as well as engineering a number of cars on the grid – many are race winners, all are immaculate.
The Masters Historic Racing 2009 season begins for the Top hat grids at Snetterton, Norfolk, on March 21, and for the Masters grids, at Donington on May 9th/10th.
Summary of 2008 Award Winners
Grand Prix Masters Driver of the Year – Manfredo Rossi di Montelera
World Sportscar Master Driver of the Year – Andrew Smith
Sports Racing Master Driver of the Year – Andrew and Mark Owen
Gentleman Drivers GT and Sports Endurance Driver of the Year – Keith Ahlers and James Bellinger
Top Hat Driver of the Year – John Young
Cloth Cap Driver of the Year – Chris Scragg
Oldies but Goldies Driver of the Year – Richard Postins
Stars of the 70s Driver of the Year – Henry Mann
Spirit of the Year – Roger Wills and Michael Pearson
Preparer of the Year – Steve Farthing of Wren Classics