Donington Historic Festival - Successful First Effort

Donington Historic Festival Successful First Effort

Carlo Vogele won the pre-’63 race GT in his 330 GTO Ferrari from Nick Naismith and John Young in an Aston Martin DB4 (no. 17). The latter car was in the invitation class for having a little more than two seats Photos Eric Sawyer

John Whiteman Reports



Donington's first Historic Festival was held over a beautiful sunny, if windy May Day bank holiday weekend, with scrutineering opening on Friday afternoon just as the Royal wedding was getting under way. The new event, a co-operation between Kevin Wheatcroft of Donington Park Racing and Duncan Wiltshire's Historic Promotions, had primary sponsorship from EFG Private Banking and was run, trackwise, by the ever-competent Historic Sports Car Club featuring 11 races over the two days, many long enough to allow two drivers per car. Originally scheduled as a three-day meeting, the local council refused permission to allow three noise days in a row, so many of the continental drivers came on Wednesday to practice the track (and some new cars) on the general test day on Thursday.

Alex Ames took his Alta Sports to victory in the Mad Jack Pre-War sportscar race ahead of the Peter Neumark/Simon Hope Alfa 8C Monza and Sam Stretton in another Alta

There were offtrack activities too, with an exciting rally stage, club displays, vendors - in fact all the ingredients for a Festival event. An important ingredient was the lunchtime parades for the clubs, who enjoyed the circuit and were made to feel they were part of the action.


Racing commenced mid-afternoon on Saturday with 45 minutes for Pre-War Sports Cars contesting the 'Mad Jack', in honour of Richard Shuttleworth, winner of the first ever Donington GP in 1935. Practice gave a healthy two-second advantage to the Alfa Romeo 8C Monza of Peter Neumark and Simon Hope over Sam Stretton in an Alta Sports.

Start of first Historic F2 race led by poleman Martin Stretton (March 742) who retired leaving race win to Matthew Watts’ March 782. Stretton however beat Watts in the second heat on Sunday

Following was something in complete contrast, the first of two Formula 2 races from 1967-1978 contesting the HSCC-run Championship. After drama on the grid when Ian Ashley's March wouldn’t fire up, Martin Stretton got a fantastic start to lead by a substantial margin from Watts, series debutant Frank Sytner, Andrew Smith (all March mounted) from the fourth row and Hans Peter's Ralt.


By lap 11 the leaders were running nose to tail but by the following lap Watts appeared on his own, Stretton having retired to the pits with the nose cone missing. Thereafter Watts had an easy run, followed by a close dice between Sytner and the leading 1600 car of Andrew Smith. The second 25-minute race on Sunday afternoon was an easier affair for Stretton after he had fought off the initial challenge of Matthew Watts to win by 15 seconds.

The RAC Woodcote Trophy race for pre-’56 Sportscars was won by Irvine Laidlaw/Simon Hadfield in Irvine’s newly acquired Jaguar D type

The 60-minute race for the RAC Woodcote Trophy for pre-1956 Sports Cars was dominated by the ex-Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar 'D' Type recently acquired by Irvine Laidlaw, shared with Simon Hadfield, despite being 0.5 sec slower than Ludovic Lindsay and Frederic Wakeman's similar car.


Formula Juniors had two tumultuous races counting towards the FIA Lurani Trophy and on the front row of the grid were two returnees from modern racing, Edwin Jowsey (Lotus 22) and Callum McLeod (Caravelle Mk 2). The next row contained Pierre Tonetti, winner of the opening Monza round in his Brabham BT6 and James Murray (Lola Mk 5A), with John Fyda (Lotus 22) in fifth, all covered by 1.8 seconds.

The clash of the Titans: Bobby Verdon-Roe (Ferrari 246S) won the Stirling Moss Trophy race for pre-1961 Sportscars from Richard Attwood in an Aston Martin DBR1

At the start Jowsey got away ahead of McLeod with Murray initially third. By the end of the second lap the two leaders were very close and pulling away from Tonetti, now third, and so it remained until the end of lap 13 when Jowsey retired slowly to the pits. At the finish 2007 British Formula Ford champion Callum McLeod, said, "I was pushing hard to keep up with Edwin but his defending was questionable". Second went to Tonetti with James Murray third and John Fyda fourth.


The grid for race two on Sunday lined up as before with Jowsey on pole and McLeod alongside with a 13.5sec advantage from race one over Tonetti, so the result seemed a formality. However at the lights Jowsey moved over towards the left of the track taking McLeod with him in a move reminiscent of Michael Schumacher. This left the inside into Redgate wide open and Tonetti took full advantage and shot into the lead. Into the fourth lap Jowsey, who had re-taken the lead, was in turn overtaken by Tonetti on the exit of Redgate in a forceful move. As the leaders approached Coppice the Lotus of Jowsey dived for the inside in a very opportunist manoevre that resulted in contact with the Brabham of Tonetti. The Lotus of John Fyda and Stuart Roach's Alexis were also involved in the incident with John Fyda suffering leg injuries. Altogether not the sort of driving one expects to see in historic racing.

Edwin Jowsey initially led first FIA Lurani Trophy FJ race in his Lotus 22 but after a tumultuous time at the front, both races were won by Callum McLeod’s Caravelle Mk2

The final event of Saturday’s programme was the first round of the new '1000Km' series for pre-‘72 sports racing cars, which drew a very healthy entry of 30 cars from Lola T70s, Ford GT 40s to Chevron B16s, B8s and a rarely seen Porsche 910.


The race was progressing happily, with young Oliver Bryant’s Lola T70 MK3B in the lead being chased by Frank Sytner’s similar car when on the 40th lap, with 10 minutes to go, the second placed Lola of Frank Sytner just went inexplicably straight on and ploughed into the barriers on the inside of the circuit on the run up to McLeans from Starkeys Bridge. It was later confirmed that the unfortunate driver had suffered a heart attack at the wheel. Medical and Rescue assistance was, as ever, very quickly on hand.


With the race red flagged Ollie Bryant was declared the winner from Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield, with Jason Wright/Michael Gans third (all T70s) and Irvine Laidlaw/Simon Hadfield first Chevron home in fourth, ahead of the plucky B8 of Sandy Watson/Martin O'Connell, followed by Paul Knapfield in his Lola T70 Spyder.

Start of first part of what will be, by season’s end, a 1000km race for pre-’72 Sports Racing Cars. The Donington part was won by Oliver Bryant (Lola T70 Mk3B) ahead of Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield’s similar car

After further practice Sunday’s racing commenced with U2TC, pre-66 under 2-litre Touring Cars for 60 minutes. Practice had shown the Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Lotus Cortina to be quicker than Philip Walker’s similar car driven by Howard Redhouse and Andy Wolfe. Third were Richard Shaw/Jackie Oliver in the Laranca BMW 1800 from the “new” Alfa GTA of Jason Wright and Michael Gans. The top six was completed by the Kremer father and son team in another Lotus Cortina and John Bennett/Andrew Smith, in another GTA.


At the lights Leo Voyazides led the capacity field into Redgate, but by the end of the lap Jackie Oliver snatched a brief lead before Voyazides re-asserted himself and started to pull away, with young Dion Kremer in third, Howard Redhouse next followed by Mike Wrigley's Cortina. Redhouse retired and, at half distance Voyazides handed over to Simon Hadfield who re-joined in fourth, 42 seconds behind Oliver’s BMW that pitted after 22 laps. Richard Shaw went out just as Hadfield was passing the pits, so at 24 laps Dion Kremer – hanging on for as long as possible - led from the Sean and Michael McInerney BMW 1800 then Hadfield and Shaw. At the close of the pit-stop window Hadfield led by 4.3secs from Shaw who had 46secs on the Kremer Cortina. Leading the Mini race were Andrew Hack and Daniel Wheeler, who finished in seventh place.

Fashionable London Restaurateur and newcomer to the sport, Rainer Becker in his 910 Porsche

The Pre-‘63 GT race drew a magnificent entry of 31 cars for another mainly two-driver encounter. Many original and historic Ferraris, Aston Martins and Porsches featured, including the freshly restored, rare Carrera Abarth Zagato of David Fitzsimons, driven by Bill Wykeham and Willie Green and Tom Pead’s very historic ex-Jim Clark 356.


Main protagonist was Carol Vögele, who won in his Ferrari 330 GTO after Jon Minshaw’s purpose-built-for-Pre-’63 E-type expired and Wolfgang Friedrichs’ Project Aston Martin did likewise. The Morgan+4 of Dion Kremer, the Aston of Nick Naismith and John Young and Peter Neumark’s Ferrari 250 SWB were fighting for the other placings, while Julian Bronson was lapping quickly in the E-type shared with John Clark, to finally take third place on the penultimate lap behind Naismith’s Aston and ahead of Dion Kremer’s Morgan+4 and the similar car of Malcolm Paul and Rob Wells, with the tiny Ginetta G4 of Nigel Winchester and Charles Mallard rounding out the top six.

Pre-‘63 GT also saw good racing within the smaller classes, with SZ and SS Alfa, and a bevy of Elites

Alan Minshaw led in the Birdcage Maserati at the start of the 60-minute Stirling Moss Trophy for pre-‘61 sports cars from Bobby Verdon-Roe (Ferrari 246S) and Grahame Bryant’s Lotus 15, but the wildly sliding Ferrari hit the front on lap two with Jon Minshaw (Lister Jaguar) up to second by lap three, while Graeme Dodd (Cooper Monaco) demoted the Maserati back to fourth.


This race featured a compulsory stop of 45secs and the leader took his on lap 19 followed by Graeme Dodd a lap later from second place leaving Richard Attwood in a temporary lead in the 1959 Le Mans winning Aston DBR1. The Dodd Cooper had been suffering from a misfire for some time and in the closing laps slipped down the order to fouth place. So the historic Ferrari won from the even more historic Aston Martin, with Adrian Van Der Kroft and Alasdair McCaig third in their Cooper T49.

The capacity U2TC grid was led by Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield in a Lotus Cortina from Richard Shaw/Jackie Oliver in a BMW 1800

Group C cars had to wait until the penultimate race on a very busy programme for their 60-minute bash. Bob Berridge was quickest in practice in his Mercedes C11 from Stefano Rosina/Giorgio Mondini (Spice SE89P) and the similar car of Peter Andy Meyrick ahead of three Jaguar XJR cars of varying types. The Rosina/Mondini car unfortunately was a non-starter, so Andy Meyrick took up the thankless task of chasing the Mercedes, which he did remarkably well.


The final race of the weekend was a fairly low key affair for the new JD Classics Challenge. It was won by Mark Wright's Ford RS 1800 from Paul Pochciol and Mike Wrigley's Ford Capri, with Allen Tice and Chris Conoley taking third in a BMW 3.0 CSL.


Bob Berridge dominated the Group C race in his Mercedes C11 beating Justin Law in his Jaguar XJR 9

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