Sunday saw us at our favourite Hill Climb venue – Shelsley Walsh – for their Classic Nostalgia weekend.
“Classic Nostalgia produces some wonderful sights, sounds and magnificent machines from over the years, in a pretty setting amongst the wonderful Worcestershire hills.” Sir Stirling Moss
This annual event is rapidly becoming a firm favourite on the racing calendar and is kindly supported by Classic and Sports Car magazine and Stewart Miller and Peter James Insurance. The action-packed weekend always attracts a very a wide variety of pre 1980s competition cars competing on the historic hill climb course, plus features spectacular static vehicle displays, trade stands, vintage-inspired entertainment, musicians, live bands and show dancers. The 2015 event certainly didn’t disappoint. We arrived in rain feeling a little frustrated and sat in our car for twenty minutes until it gave up. Thereafter the day burst into wonderful sunshine, which really helped the event achieve all it promised to be.
Action on the hill consisted of two one day National B events for pre-1980 cars. On each day, practice was in the morning, where all competitors were offered two practice runs. The competitive runs the took place in the afternoon, with each driver having two runs. We were there to enjoy the fun on the Sunday. The fun was enhanced by the presence of Derek Bell there to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first of his 5 le Mans victories. Also honoured was Jaguar who this year are celebrating a number of anniversaries.
The Midland Automobile Club celebrated the successes of 5 time Le Mans winner Derek Bell at the Classic Nostalgia event held at Shelsley Walsh, as he celebrated the 40th anniversary of his first Le Mans win.
Derek who went to school at Kings, Worcester, took to the hill in a variety of cars which included the Porsche 956 that he drove during the 1983 season, sharing it with Stefan Bellof who used the car to set the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record of 6 minutes 11.13 seconds. Of all the Rothmans Porsches, it is this car that is the most talked about.
Derek also drove the Broadspeed Jaguar XJ12C in which he competed in the 1976 Tourist Trophy at Silverstone.
Derek’s book, My Racing Life, is a highly readable autobiography in which he recalls a life in motor racing that spanned over 40 years and was packed with achievement and diversity, and was available to purchase throughout the weekend with opportunities to get copies signed on the Sunday. I had a mind to buy a copy and get it signed but I have to confess at £35 a copy I baulked and changed my mind. Shame I’m such a tight arse if I’m honest, as I think this would have made a great souvenir to remember what really was a cracking day.
Anyway enough of my miserly ways. Derek Bell is best-known as the consummate endurance sports car driver who won the Le Mans 24 Hours five times and the Daytona 24 Hours three times, teamed with racing greats such as Jacky Ickx, Hans Stuck and Al Holbert.
Besides sports car racing, he has competed in many different cars and categories, from a works seat with Ferrari in Formula 1 in 1968 to rally driving a Vauxhall.
Also throughout the weekend Shelsley honoured the marque ‘Jaguar’ with special displays to commemorate the brands numerous anniversaries this year, including the 80 years of the Jaguar name, 60th anniversary of the Jaguar Mk1, 60 years since the last Le Mans win for Jaguar Cars Ltd and the 40th anniversary of the Jaguar XJS, 40 years of the XJ Coupe, and 25 years since a Jaguar last won Le Mans.
As part of The jaguar celebrations, Norman Dewis OBE came to Shelsley on the Sunday appearing on the Philip Porter stand for interviews and book signing sessions throughout the day. In a career spanning 33 years, Dewis played a pivotal role in the development of 25 significant Jaguar cars including the E-type, D-type and XK models. As chief development test engineer at Jaguar for 36 years he is synonymous with the brand’s success – both on and off the track and widely regarded as Britain’s greatest test driver having completed more than a million test miles at an average speed of 100 mph-plus. This year the British engineering icon was finally awarded an OBE in the Honours List for his contribution to the automotive industry. His presence was much appreciated by the keen petrolheads at Shelsley.
Finally leaving PaceBeast in the field we meandered through the car club stands and headed for the paddock where a mindboggling collection of cars awaited our perusal. The smell of petrol pervaded the air a wonderful heady mix to delight the nostrils of any petrol head and we were no exception. We experienced this at Chateau Impney but it was even more intense here. Our cameras were put to high use. Peanut was armed with a 230mm zoom on the XE-1 and I shot from the hip tilting the rear screen on the XM-1 matched to a 35mm zoom. I thought we would also make use of the iPhone 6 as we did at Chateau Impney last week, but as we had both cameras the iPhone saw little use. For us the atmosphere was really exciting, somehow much more real than last week at Impney. Drivers were working on their cars, some were warming them up, regular queues were forming as the cars made ready for their practice runs up the hill and enthusiasts were milling around all of this snapping away with their cameras. Derek Bell was about and his Porsche was being warmed up too. The smells, the noises, the cars to be admired it was thrilling. It took me back to being at The Mille Miglia!
Time for a coffee and a sausage butty in the café and this was very civilised too with but a small queue.. The band was playing and through the door of the café we glimpsed the dancers having fun to the period music.
A walk up the hill followed to snap a few cars on the hill, then a walk around the club cars on the field as these had now filled up before we headed back to PaceBeast to enjoy the picnic we had brought. The sun was shining the fresh chicken sandwiches were good and we got chatting to the chap in the car next to us. Peanut managed to burn her knees and chest in the sun!
The afternoon was a repeat of the morning, this time with an ice cream and then a cup of tea in the vintage tea stand adjacent to the car club stands. The Elf’s favourite cars from the day were the Marcos sports cars, I didn’t have a highlight though I did like the Alfa Romeo which we had admired the previous week at Impney – I think I have little room in my head for anything except the Generation 1 MINI GP. Peanut also did not have a favourite though we did all love the gorgeous red Bentley on the Jaguar display.
A wonderfully great day out!