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Silverstone anniversary to be celebrated at July’s Classic

18 June 2018

It is 70 years since Silverstone hosted its very first Grand Prix; a milestone that will be celebrated in style at next month’s Silverstone Classic.

The festival’s programme of 21 historic races feature more than 80 iconic Grand Prix cars from yesteryear and will also include a special collection of cars that contested the inaugural Royal Automobile Club International Grand Prix in 1948. Often referred to as ‘The Race on the Runways’, it was an historic meeting which marked Silverstone’s opening as a motor sport venue.

That first official race was staged on little more than a makeshift circuit using the wide runways and portions of narrow perimeter roads of what was at the time a disused wartime airfield. The improvised track itself was demarcated with 170 tons of straw bales plus 250 oil drums and, curiously, saw the drivers racing flat out towards each other from opposite ends of the same long runway!

Despite hasty preparations, a full 25-car field was assembled on the start/finish line (then located before Woodcote Corner) for Britain’s first major post-war international race – a 65-lap encounter dominated by the two factory-entered Maserati 4CLTs of Luigi Villoresi and Alberto Ascari.

Starting from the back of the grid after getting delayed on their way to the circuit and thus missing qualifying, the two Italian aces quickly fought their way to the fore. Two years later, Silverstone hosted the very first FIA World Championship Formula One race on a much-changed layout and, since then, has held a further 50 British Grands Prix with a roster of winners including all the sport’s greatest names.

What’s more, many of the great cars that have raced at the globally famous Northamptonshire venue over the years are still reliving their glory days at the Silverstone Classic, an annual event that is now firmly established as the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival.

The weekend’s pair of races for the Adrian Flux Trophy for Pre ‘66 Grand Prix Cars administered by the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association (HGPCA) feature a mix of GP cars from the sport’s formative years. The dazzling 50+ car grid is packed with a large number of exquisite front-engined F1 cars from the fifties as well as a posse of game-changing rear-engined racers from the first half of the sixties.

Regarded by many as the highlight races on the Silverstone Classic bill, the pair of FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship showdowns recreate what is often celebrated hailed as F1’s golden age: the DFV era from 1966 to 1985. Cars still compete in their period liveries and deliver the same thrilling spectacle and sounds as they did back in their halcyon heydays.

Adding to the 70th anniversary celebrations, a collection of remarkable cars from the original race – including ERA, Talbot Lago and Maserati racers will also be on pole position outside the lower entrance to the International Paddock throughout the three-day festival. What’s more, they will be fired up to perform a special track parade on Saturday afternoon.

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