A white and silver anniversary

Everyone loves an anniversary. And a landmark achievement. F1 people are usually rather good at this sort of thing, as all the sponsors love a bit of Victoria Sponge cake with their logos on it and there are any number of websites that will run a photo.

If you’re lucky a crew from Sky F1 will come over and film each other dribbling jam on their shirts and doing emotive pieces to camera about your heritage. All the fun of the fair.

This year, Monaco has become Finland-on-Sea at Grand Prix time: the 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg being shoehorned back into his title-winning Williams FW08 with his 2016 world championship-winning son Nico (officially German but…), rolling out alongside him in his victorious Mercedes.

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The Rosbergs, père et fils (Dickie Stanford)

Meanwhile Finn du jour Valtteri Bottas has chosen to wear a replica Mika Häkkinen crash helmet, to mark something or other we expect.

Perhaps this is all a bid by Formula 1’s new American owners to pave the way for a highly lucrative Finnish Grand Prix deal. That would be a popular move, if rather hard going on the kidneys.

Yet some anniversaries really are special. Last year, Ferrari marked 70 years as a constructor of racing cars – and perhaps more importantly as a constructor of the myths about racing cars. Here at the S&G we shall be cutting the cake next year on the 90th anniversary of Scuderia Ferrari’s founding, but there were some nice moments in 2017 too.

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One anniversary appears to have happened without great celebration, however. It seems remarkable in this day and age that anything in motor sport can happen without a plinth being erected outside Lord March’s conservatory, a tribute crash helmet design or a commemorative piece of regalia – but here it is: in Spain, Mercedes achieved 110 race wins for its Grand Prix cars in 110 years of competition.

Now, S&G regulars will of course remember that Mercedes took itself away from Grand Prix racing as a constructor for 55 years on account of the Le Mans disaster, so it can hardly be called a continuous history in Grand Prix racing. Its attendance was also a bit patchy in the 1920-30s on account of many things (not least Germany’s international standing after World War 1), and was similarly banned after World War 2 until the 1951 season.

But take all of that aside – 110 years is a thumping period across which to have been winning Grands Prix. And an average of one per year for more than a century is a good story… two per year if you discount 1955-2010… and roughly three per year across the 40 season of Grand Prix racing that have actually been undertaken by Mercedes.

No mean feat.

Surely Monaco, the blue riband race of the year, should be playing host to the great snorting white beasts from the rough-hewn roads of Dieppe and Lyon, Caracciola’s SSK and the awe-inspiring Silver Arrows of the Thirties? Mika Häkkinen should be there in person, wearing his own helmet and tramping round in Fangio’s W196 (and complaining about its brakes again), rather than a bunch of beloved Scandiwegians.

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Why so shy? What have the patisseries of the Côte d’Azur done to deserve such a massive loss of potential earnings for silver-iced tartes tatin? What is going on here?

Perhaps Mercedes is fighting shy of claiming the 1937 AVUS-Rennen as a win for its Grand Prix cars because it is where they were dressed in extraordinary all-enveloping bodywork and hit more than 220mph. Perhaps victories like the Eifelrennen, Coppa Acerbo and Coppa Ciano are omitted from the total because, while they were for Grand Prix cars, they weren’t actual Grands Prix.

If that’s the case, then Mercedes has at least bought itself some time to actually put an anniversary party together. They are unlikely to win in Monaco but Canada is Lewis Hamilton’s fiefdom and that means – oh yes! – next up is France. So if Mercedes drops the mad 1937 race from its tally, it can claim 110 wins in 110 years in time for its return to the nation where it all began: France.

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Now wouldn’t that be an idea?

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Classic buildings in miniature

After cornering the market in ultra-refined models of classic GT racers to go on your 1/32 slot racing track, Graham Poulton has done it again with a collection of iconic trackside buildings.

There are many schools of thought when it comes to decorating a slot car track, from minimalist to full-on scale model venue. It’s always nice to have something dressed to fit the era or type of cars that you particularly like to run – and for historic fans, Graham has produced just the sort of set dressing that is going to go down a storm.

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Scenic slot tracks can vary in scale of ambition

Reims, Goodwood and the earliest post-war Silverstone buildings feature large in the collection, which come as flat pack assembly kits with all the hard work of decorating them done for you.

Compared to the price of cars these days, the buildings look extraordinary value and can be ordered direct from Graham or via Pendle Slot Racing. Here’s some of the loveliness that Pendle has on sale:

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Reims pit boxes (could double for Brooklands)

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Bumper box set of Goodwood timing tower and pit boxes plus the grandstand

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Another Goodwood icon: the SuperShell building

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Typical of the wartime buildings at Silverstone for its first 40 years: the original timekeepers’ hut

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The original press box from Silverstone faithfully recreated…

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…along with the press box from Reims

We’re sure that there will be many similar additions – Le Mans is always a favourite, maybe some pit scenery from Monza or Spa would be fun too. Well done, Graham – keep up the good work.

On the Goodwood High Street…

It’s the place to come and see and be seen – and in the absence of We Heart Vintage at this year’s revival, the S&G stepped manfully into the breach to record the best and brightest of what everyone was doing out on the replica High Street. Were you shopping in the vintage Tesco or posing at the Shell garage? Why not relive the life, laughs and Lambrettas for a while with this here gallery, like…

Didn’t you all do well?

Well that’s it for another year – the Goodwood Revival has come and gone for 2015. First of all, let’s start with a little look back at some of the many, many fine outfits put together this year. Who knows, you might even find yourself in the gallery!

A few concerns have been voiced in recent years that the whole fancy dress element has taken over the event to the detriment of the original festival of all that once was in motor racing. It is true that the nature of the event has changed and that it is now fundamentally a social occasion at which some lovely old aeroplanes and cars are present. But is that so wrong, when so many people among the record 149,000 attendees have got it so very right?

The fact is that most of the cars and all of the aircraft taking part in this year’s Revival can be seen at other events all summer long. It is Goodwood that makes it special, and it does so by encouraging everyone to feel part of the occasion. That can be no bad thing.

Yes, everyone was carrying a smartphone or tablet along with their fur stole or G.I. helmet – but that is the nature of life in 2015. On the plus side, it must have been a relief to many that silly stick-on moustaches were mercifully few, those who arrived dressed like hippies had a certain self-conscious look about them and almost any hint of training shoes or hoodies had been banished from the Goodwood Estate.

After four days on site, your correspondent was required to call in to Sainsbury’s to buy some milk. It was a harsh reintroduction to the modern world and made one wish that every day was a Revival day. So please enjoy the gallery and well done to everyone who was there. The S&G salutes your eye for detail and your relentless good cheer – it was a very happy place to be. So click on a picture and scroll through a lot of what you all got up to – and what the rest of you should be doing next year!

Ferrari’s most glamorous creations for 2015 Revival

You have permission to dribble: the racing sports cars created by Ferrari between 1950 and 1959 will be the stars of the show at this year’s Goodwood Revival. Following on from last year’s sensational celebrations for the Jaguar D-Type’s 60th anniversary, we can now look forward to a flood of rosso corsa gracing Goodwood for quite probably the most expensive one-make race in history.

Grand Prix racing may arguably have been Enzo’s greater passion, but the sales of his exotic road cars depended upon laying claim to the silverware at the world’s greatest road races – the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio and the Le Mans 24 Hours chief among them. Thus his cars were not only built to succeed but also to inspire – with seductive bodywork that could rival the youthful Sofia Loren and the most intoxicating mechanical opera bursting from their exhaust pipes.

Everyone has a personal favourite. Mine is the low-slung 335 S which, while unable to match for the D-Types at la Sarthe, to my eye looks the hungriest of the classic front-engined prototypes to emerge from Maranello – although it’s a close-run thing.

What we can expect is up to 30 of the world’s most expensive cars, each capable of around 180mph on their narrow tyres and drum brakes, vying for the honour of winning the signature race at the world’s biggest weekend of automotive showbiz.

To set the scene, let’s enjoy this fabulous performance from a 1958 246 S at the 2004 Le Mans Classic – and hope to see plenty of the same tail-wagging, wheel-sawing bravado being applied in West Sussex this autumn.

 

Le Mans Classic – only two years to wait!

The biannual Le Mans Classic took place this weekend. Just a couple of weeks after the best-attended Le Mans 24 Hours in years, the Classic continued the renaissance of endurance racing with more than 100,000 people turning out despite the worst that the weather could throw at them.

But what a feast awaited those racegoers! Here is a little wrap-up video to give a taste of Le Mans reliving its glory days…

The next Le Mans Classic is in 2016 – so book now to avoid disappointment!