What could be the best meeting in its 64 year history will be a day to delight, when the Castle Combe circuit hosts its 3rd ‘Bristol Forklifts and Heritage Insurance Autumn Classic’ on Sunday October 5th.
Eight fabulous races are almost overshadowed by the plethora of rare and interesting historic display cars, celebrity guests and drivers, owner’s clubs and a period atmosphere, which should have young and old watering at the mouth.Choosing a highlight will be near impossible, given the depth and quality of both the race cars and the supporting acts, many of which have a local connection with the Wiltshire circuit.Not the least of those is Corsham resident and Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason, who is showing off a number of cars from his amazing collection.Mason’s legendary Maserati 250F, which thrilled the crowds last year and was once voted the “greatest racing car ever” by readers of Octane magazine, will appear alongside his Maserati T61 ‘Birdcage, occasionally raced by Marino Franchitti, husband of Mason’s daughter, Holly. Both she and her sister Chloe, will compete in the 20 minute race for Historic Aston Martins. The sisters have a pair of famous 1934/1935 Aston Martin Ulsters which competed at Le Mans, an event which has a multitude of connections with the ‘Classic’.Another star name with a Le Mans connection is Andy Wallace who took an historic win there for Jaguar in 1988, its first since its triple victories in 1955, ‘56 and ‘57. The D Type was the model which brought Jaguar its 1950s hat trick in France and Wallace will be racing one in the Norman Dewis Trophy race. This will be Wallace’s first visit to the circuit for 30 years, having his last race here in 1984, when he finished on the FF2000 podium. In July 1980 he competed in a remarkable race for the Pre ‘74 Formula Ford championship which ended in a dead heat, with Wallace and Simon Davey declared joint winners! Davey still competes in historic Formula Ford, which features at Castle Combe at its ‘Championship Finals’ event, the day before! Since Wallace and Davey came together, Wallace has been a contracted driver for most of the world’s premier sports car manufacturers, notching up numerous top class results, including 3 victories at the Daytona 24 hours.A number of local companies are supporting the event, including ‘Cotswold Classic Car Restoration’ from Cirencester, which not only sponsors the Aston Martin race but is transforming some of the buildings at the circuit into a period village petrol station, complete with pumps! Other local drivers competing in the Aston race are Mark Campbell from Stonehouse in a DB2/4 and Marlborough’s David Bennett in his DB3S. Bennett will also field his AC Ace in the FiSCar race for 1950s sports cars. In that event, Westbury’s Peter Campbell has his Wingfield Bristol Special, whilst Bristol’s Mike Thorne wields his Austin Healey 100M alongside Sarah Bennett-Baggs, fresh from their podium at the 2014 Le Mans ‘Classic’.Thorne will also contest that car in the ‘Healey Driver International Invitation race for Big Healeys’, which has a number of European entries, but a very strong West Country flavour, as Bristol has always been a major centre of Austin Healey activity.Much of that activity has and continues to centre around John Chatham, whose influence will be prevalent even though he no longer races, His sons, Jack and Oliver will be sharing the car which finished second at this race last year in the hands of Joe, their other brother. John Chatham’s most famous Le Mans Healey, ‘DD 300’, which was also a regular winner at Combe in its day, will be back again with its new owner, Karsten Le Blanc. The car has been restored to its original 1961 Le Mans spec and could be a podium finisher.Lap record holder, David Smithies from Flax Bourton, will be a firm favourite, whilst fellow ‘Bristol’ pairings are Chris Clarkson and Ted Williams who finished third last year and are back in Clarkson’s rapid Mk1.Making a long awaited return to Combe after a 59 year absence are the 500cc Formula 3 cars, taking part in the Bristol Aeroplane Company Motor Sports Club Challenge Trophy race. Modern Formula 3 can effectively trace its roots back to the Bristol area, as it was conceived at the former ‘BAC’ in Filton in 1945. In the early 1950s the diminutive 500s often provided the most exciting races of the day as most of the up and coming British stars of the time, such as Sir Stirling Moss, raced at Castle Combe. Moss ended his last race at Combe with an overnight stay in the Bristol Royal Infirmary after a particularly infamous crash at Avon Rise in his Cooper-JAP.Another race for relatively tiny single seaters is that for the ‘Miller Oils Formula Junior Championship’, featuring the one litre and 1100 cc single seaters in which many great names also started their careers.Bristol Forklifts owner and acclaimed quadruple Monaco winner Julian Bronson, will be demonstrating his very rare front engined Scarab Grand Prix car, fresh from his pair of wins at Spa, where he beat all his more modern front engined competitors. The American built car, with 2.5 litre Offenhauser engine, dates from 1960. Other demonstrations include a 1905 ‘World Land Speed record’ Fiat, complete with 16.5 litre engine, the ex Bob Gerard Cooper Bristol Formula 1 car and the largest collection of Bristol cars ever gathered together! They will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of Bristol’s 1954 Le Mans 1-2-3 class victory, the sole surviving team car joining the demonstration in a very rare outing. Another once proud local car manufacturer, Horstman, will be represented with 2 very rare cars, once built in the City of Bath. The cars, dating from 1920, are owned by Trevor Turpin from Avoncliff, near Bath and Geoff Plaister, from Purton.The Vintage Sports Car Club’s race for pre war sports cars also has a Le Mans connection. In 1934, the same year the VSCC was formed, British sports cars filled 15 of the first 18 places in the 24 hour race, the works Riley team placed 2-3-5-6. To celebrate this 80th anniversary, the Riley Register will feature a display of pre-war Rileys located in the 'Heritage' Club Avenue. The TT Sprite of Crewkerne’s Allen Clear and the Riley Brooklands of Andrew Baker from Martock are two of the Rileys taking part in the race. From Glastonbury are Barry Foster in his 1931 MG C-type Montlhery and Annie Boursot in her MG PA Midget. Minety’s Tim Wadsworth has his Lagonda 2 litre SML.Sunday’s events get under way with qualifying at 08-30, the first race starting at 12.45.One of the great joys of the day is being able to wander around the paddock and unlike many other events, there is no extra charge for doing so. Main admission prices are £15 for Adults and £10.00 for those over 65, with accompanied children under 17 admitted free.For further information, visit the dedicated website, or on Facebook or Twitter.