Whilst Formula One cars have not been raced in anger at Castle Combe for over half a century, a number of the circuit’s loyal band of spectators have memories of them in action in the mid 1950’s.
Those memories can be relived at the forthcoming ‘Autumn Classic’ on October 1 when there will be a rare opportunity to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of some important Grand Prix cars in action, albeit at demonstration speeds.
Fresh from its win in the Richmond Trophy race at the Goodwood Revival, the Scarab of event sponsor Julian Bronson from Bristol will be a highlight. Unveiled at the end of the front engined era in 1960 and therefore instantly uncompetitive in its day, Bronson has developed the machine into a modern day winner, helped by his enormous talent as a driver, as evidenced by his four ‘Monaco Historic’ victories. A second Scarab, owned by Eddie McGuire, the Australian TV presenter and businessman, will also appear at the Classic.
The last front engined car to win a Formula one race and which happened to compete against the Scarab at Goodwood, will be in the hands of another local ace. The Ferguson P99, one of only a small number of four wheel drive Grand Prix cars, will be handled by Nick Adams from Limpley Stoke. Unveiled in 1961, the car had another West Country connection, as it was run by Rob Walker, who lived in Nunney. Walker ran the car for Stirling Moss, who drove it to its only victory, rating it as the favourite of all the cars he ever drove. Graham Hill also drove it in the Australian Grand Prix.
Adams is one of the West Country's most successful race drivers. He began his career at Castle Combe in 1974 when he entered a ‘Clubmans’ race with his Mallock Mk14B. Winning his 2nd ever race, he was soon talent spotted and given the prestigious Grovewood award in 1976. This was awarded to an up and coming star with the intention of helping them on the way to Formula 1. Whilst Adams’ career did not reach those heights, he was nevertheless a very successful World Sports Car championship driver and claimed the C2 category pole position at Le Mans in '88 and '89. His outing at Goodwood in the Ferguson brought him a 4th place.
Another Grand Prix connection is David Brabham, opening the event. The former F1 driver is the son of legendary triple world champion, Sir Jack. The Cooper T53 ‘Lowline’ with the 2.5 litre Climax engine as used by Sir Jack to win the 1960 Championship will join the Scarab and the Ferguson in the fast demonstration laps, hopefully driven by David.
The day before the ‘Classic’, (September 30th), David will be in action at a charity event at the circuit where members of the public will be able to buy passenger rides in a suitably fast historic car, in aid of ‘Hope for Tomorrow’, a cancer charity. Brabham’s only previous ‘Combe’ outing was in 1992 when he came 4th in a Caterham Vauxhall race, driving the celebrity car.
Other F1 cars which will be found in the ‘Dream Garage’ include the BRM P261 of Andrew Wareing, the Castle Combe Special GT class champion in 1983 and 1985. The car was raced in 1964 and ‘65 by Graham Hill and also in ’64 by Richie Ginther who took it to 4th in the US GP.
Not quite an F1 car, but classed as a Grand Prix machine, is the ex Stirling Moss Cooper-Alta, from 1953, which will take part in the lunch-time parade laps.
A key ‘F1’ anniversary being celebrated is that of the 70th for the Cooper Car Company. A variety of suitably important cars are expected.