Ferrari detail. Ferrari Owners' Club
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Ferrari Happenings
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Historic Reflections on 2003
by Ed Brown
13.12.03

 

With its continued expansion into yet more halls of the NEC Birmingham, the Autosport International Racing Car Show was my 2003 season opener. Sadly, exhibits were few; but this was compensated for by the “live interview” stage, where former BRDC Chairman and retired F1 racer Martin Brundle and Murray Walker entertained the crowd with forthright and well argued views. Whether you needed a new clutch assembly for your Formula Ford or the latest 40ft American RV to tow it to the circuit there is undoubtedly something for everyone at this Haymarket Exhibitions organised event. Much publicity surrounds the 2004 show when centre stage will be "Galleria Ferrari Maranello" – a celebration of famous tipos.

Since its inception 12 years ago, the Florida based Cavallino Classic has grown into one of the best attended Ferrari events in North America. Organised with flair and precision by Cavallino magazine publisher John W Barnes Jnr and his family, the West Palm Beach meeting offers a variety of automotive and social events; combined with the first rounds of the Shell Historic Challenge and the Breakers Hotel concours. The temperate climate of Southern Florida, means that the opportunity to see Historic Ferrari, Maserati and Alfas on track at Moroso Motorsports Park, whilst enjoying lunch “al fresco” and feeding the paddock’s resident storks is one not to be missed. Warm weather – not this year! Florida had its coldest day for 42 years and it felt like being at Silverstone in April. This was more than compensated for by the stunning selection of tipos on track and the opportunity to examine Chuck Wegner’s “time warp” 196SP – fresh from 38 years Italian hibernation.

The Cavallino Concours is deserving of a lengthy, detailed article of its own and desirable cars are everywhere you look. Since its restoration by Californian Steve Tillack, Jeffrey and Frances Fisher’s 212 Export Vignale has won several significant concours awards and looked entirely at home on the The Breakers' main lawn, accompanied by Jim Spiro’s ex Bardinon 330TR1 Le Mans winner, Monty Shallett’s Breadvan, David Sydorick’s 250 GT Zagato and Peter Sachs's unique 312P sports racer. But they were eclipsed by this year's overall winner, Wegner’s 196SP. Thanks should also go to Floridians Ed and Lesley Davies who brought 11 competition cars to the “Classic” and invited British Historic ace Martin Stretton to drive their Alfa Romeo P3. [Click here for Marcel Massini's report of the event].

Late March saw me Majorca bound for the 3rd Trofeo Baleares Classico – an event which has grown dramatically due in no small part to the enthusiastic organisation of Peter Raumann and Mike Riedner’s excellent publicity. The parc ferme for 2003 was the Hippodromo on the outskirts of Palma, from which the 200 crews would complete 14 special stages across the island in 4 days, culminating in a day's circuit activity at Circuit Llucmajor. Dutch arch enthusiasts John and Jan Bosch in their Competition Daytona had a tough time trying to keep up with ex-world Rally Champion Walter Rohrl and eventual winner former circuit racer Jurgen Barth, both in Porsche 911s. With this year's addition of “Sa Calobra”, Europe’s longest hillclimb in the North West of the island, whether you compete in the competition or regularity section in a 250GTE or a 308GT4 – this is a cost effective event, with excellent hospitality that requires more British entrants.

Having missed the first round of the Shell Historic Ferrari Challenge at Spa Ferrari Days (though my Dad didn't), the Vintage Sports Car Club at Donington Park was host to the second and UK’s only round. It shared the billing with a tribute to Ayrton Senna, commemorating his peerless drive in the 1993 European Grand Prix. Packed grids in all 3 categories saw some exciting racing and some of the most memorable images of the the year – ultimate 2003 Historic Challenge Champion Belgian Vincent Gaye in his 250SWB was spectacular with his lurid, yet controlled slides out of the chicane, whilst Carlos Monteverde’s ultimately vain pursuit of John Bosch’s Daytona was definitely a drive of the year contender. With the assistance of Corse Clienti, Frederico Kroymans, John Bosch, Paul Osborn and Earl Goddard gave a fabulous track display of Ferrari’s more recent F1 cars which culminated in Earl Goddard lapping the National Circuit within 0.5 sec. of the outright lap record.

“On the Limit – a History of Heroes" was the theme for the 10th anniversary of the Goodwood Festival of Speed and in Ford’s centenary, the front of House sculpture depicted the epic finish at the 1966 Le Mans. Club chaorman Jack Sears was an invited participant in the Ford Galaxy 500 which he has repatriated from South Africa. Arizonian Bob Riggle is an unassuming, yet approachable man who specialises in a unique brand of motosport – rear wheel standing an 1100bhp Plymouth Barracuda. With the engine mounted “in the boot” and a clear floor panel (for vision of course!) – Bob and “Hurst Hemi under Glass" were the undoubted stars of Goodwood. Fantastic drives by Kiwi Rod Millen in his 900 bhp Toyota Tacoma pickup, David Franklin in Carlos Monteverde’s unique 712 Can Am and the unique Bugatti Type 251 that I last saw in the former Schlumpf Museum 25 years ago, means that Goodwood was my event of the year.

Sponsored by Maranello Concessionaires' Classic Parts Division and organised by Tony Willis, Shelsley Walsh’s ”Festival of Hillclimbing” included a specially invited class for Ferraris and Maseratis. Overall winner was ex-British Hillclimb Champion David Franklin in Carlos Monteverde’s 212E Montagna, with spirited drives from Alan Minshaw (fresh from his Pau Historic win) in the Maserati Birdcage and Dean Butler in the L’Or Schell Special. In an event that was allowed to run unsilenced by the RACMSA, the largest ever post war crowd had chance to hear and see the cars and stars that have shaped British Hillclimbing over the last century. From Chris Williams 24 litre Bentley Napier through Mac Hulbert’s ERA R4D to Roy Lane’s Gould Judd, the event undoubtedly achieved its objective to raise much needed funds to allow the Midland Automobile Club to purchase the site lease and continue to promote meetings at Shelsley Walsh .

The target has not yet been met and you can contribute to the fund via
www.shelsley-walsh.co.uk

Oulton Park is my local track and 2003 marked its 50th Anniversary. Having been opened by pre-war racer and former BRDC Chairman Earl Howe. it was fitting that the grids for the 2 day Gold Cup reflected the rich motorsport history of the Cheshire parkland circuit. Undoubted race of the weekend and indeed the year for me, was for ‘50’s sportscars. It featured a 5 way battle for the lead between Nick Linney (Lister Jaguar), Frank Sytner (Cooper Monaco), Martin Stretton (Alan Minshaw’s Birdcage Maserati), Julian Bronson(Lister Chevrolet) and John Harper (Cooper Monaco), ultimately decided in Linney’s favour, after a superb battle and Stretton’s retirement with minor bodywork damage. Oulton Park has never looked better and it is to be hoped that the circuit’s new owners will cherish the history and maintain its current excellent condition.

Historic motorsport has lost some true enthusiasts and racers this year - sadly Californian wine maker Gil Nickel, former Pink Floyd manager Steve O’Rourke and Maserati restorer Cameron Millar are no longer with us, the latter contributing to the survival of the immortal 250F GP car.

With the recent completion of the Targa Espana, the Classic Adelaide Rally and the 50th Macau Grand Prix (congratulations to winner Frank Sytner in his Lola T70) – plus the imminent auction sale of the Lepeltier collection of GT Ferraris in Gstaad - it's been a busy year. Undoubted competitor of 2003 has been ex-rally driver Julian Bronson in his 1959 Lister Chevrolet . Whether on the twists and turns of Donington Park, Oulton and Goodwood, Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb, or the recent Macau historic race – he has finished them all and given much enjoyment.

With the year almost at an end its time to look forward to 2004 – and a bi-annual highlight , the 4eme Historique du Monaco and the special celebrations for Ferrari at Laguna Seca /Monterey, California in August…..decisions decisions.....


 

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