By Wendy-Ann Francis - Motorsport.com Silverstone, August 21st, 2001 - Driving through thick fog, that looked as though it was going to hang around until at least noon, we were wondering how much qualifying we would see that morning. Then, just...
By Wendy-Ann Francis - Motorsport.com
Silverstone, August 21st, 2001 - Driving through thick fog, that looked as though it was going to hang around until at least noon, we were wondering how much qualifying we would see that morning. Then, just to be contrary, at 8:30am the sun started to shine through the clouds and by 9am, when the first qualifying session started, we were suffering from blue skies, bright sunshine and rising temperatures. It looked as though the weather had fooled everyone as the stands and paddock were fairly empty but as the weather improved the spectators started to arrive.
The racing schedule for this, the first day of the Silverstone Historic Festival, was almost non-stop from 9am to 8:30pm with 7 qualifying sessions and 6 races including a 2-hour Group C race. All this racing was of course accompanied by various off track activities including an auction, the Blue Eagle Helicopter Display team, the arrival of the Retro Run cars and demonstration laps by a Bentley EXP Speed 8 Le Mans car.
The morning was spent watching the various groups qualify for their races or strolling the paddock where you could very close to the racecars and the drivers. The serious competition started at 1:30pm with the Mike Hailwood Memorial Trophy. The motorcycles, on the program for the first time this year at Silverstone, were led out on their formation lap by Mike Hailwood's son, David Hailwood, riding his father's number 20 bike, and wearing his helmet colours. From the beginning of the 8 lap race Pat Mooney, on a Triumph Trident, and Hasse Gustafson, on an AVA Ducati 748, swapped the lead several times, Mooney being fast on the straight and Gustafson handing the curves better. Mooney wore Gustafson down and lead the most important lap, the last.
The next race was for Pre-1972 Formula Ford cars and 44 cars took the start. Two drivers, again, vied for the lead from the start swapping positions constantly throughout the race. The race finished with Neil Fowler in a Lola T200 taking the win from Paul Sleeman in a Macon MR8
The third race started with a bang, literally, as a Mini came into contact with an Alfa Romeo. This caused another Mini and several Anglias to spin at Copse corner and a red flag was thrown before the rest of field made it back to the pit straight. The restart went smoothly with Lloyd keeping his Ford Mustang in the lead for the rest of the race. Behind him several battles were fought between a Jaguar, a Cortina and two Minis for positions 3 through 6. The result of which was a Mini in third and another in fifth after some great passing maneuvers.
What followed was a race involving the oldest cars competing at Silverstone this year. It was an 8-lap contest of Pre-1961 Grand Prix cars that the Lotus 16, driven by, Phillip Walker led from start to finish.
The last race of the afternoon was Italy versus the rest of the world and involved endurance cars from the 1960's in which ex-Le Mans and F1 driver Jackie Oliver in a Ford GT40 moved into the lead and won his first race for about 17 years.
The weather had held for the afternoon even though at one point it had got very dark. If it wasn't for the humidity I could have been back in California at the Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca. The races were; however, much closer not because they were trying harder but because the cars were more closely matched. The number of cars lined up for each race was impressive with no less than 35 cars in each race.
The last race of the day, starting at 6:30pm, featured the Group C cars. Before their arrival on the track Guy Smith took the Bentley EXP Speed 8, last seen at LeMans, for several high-speed demonstration laps around Silverstone.