2011 Silverstone Classic: Preview

The 21st Silverstone Classic (July 22-24) is to be the biggest classic racing festival in the world, covering three days on track action based around the brand new Silverstone Wing pit complex, but with plenty of off track spread across the Northamptonshire Grand Prix venue.

15 grids of cars will race in 22 races on the Saturday and Sunday of the event – Friday primarily given over to qualifying – with the race card headlined by the Group C Sportscars and Jaguar E-Type Challenge.

The E-Type Challenge is just one part of Silverstone Classic's role as the official event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic British sportscar. As well as a full grid of 50 E-Types organisers expect a mind boggling 1,000 road going examples to take part in a parade.

The first of two E-Type Challenge races takes pride of place in the prime Saturday night slot, sharing the evening session with the assembled Group C sportscars.

Harking back to the late 1980s and early 90s years at the 24 Hours of Le Mans the grid brings together Porsche, Nissan, Jaguar, Mercedes and Spice, for an into the dusk spectacle fitting for the most contemporary Le Mans racers at the event.

Group C is just one chapter in sportscar history that fans will be able to revisit this weekend at Silverstone. The World Sportscar Masters race brings together machinery from Can-Am competition, notably the early racing McLarens as well as Lola T70, Ferraris, Chevrons, Corvettes and Ford GT40s. Delving back still further into the history books is the Stirling Moss Trophy for Pre-1961 cars. The entry list includes some of the most evocative names from the black-and-white era at Le Mans. The 1959 Le Mans winning Aston Martin DBR1 (driven by Richard Attwood and Gregor Fisken) headlines the entry, sharing the track with a fleet of Listers (Knobbly and otherwise), Lotus and Jaguar D-Types as well as Nick Wigley – Silverstone Classic event director – sharing the formidable looking Farrallac Allard.

More than 100 F1 cars will also be in action, with the pinnacle of motorsport represented in three races. The oldest Grand Prix car on show will be Geraint Owen's Bugatti T35B part of the pre-1961 Grand Prix grid. Via a grid of pre-1966 Grand Prix cars the F1 involvement reaches the more familiar names and cars of the Grand Prix Masters.

Cars from one of the most iconic eras in Formula One with some of the most famous names in the sport. A mouth watering field includes early Arrows cars – the A1, A3, A4 and A5 – a Shadow, McLarens, Tyrrells a pair of Lotuses running the famous John Player Special livery.

Touring cars – large and small – as well as Junior formulae complete the race line-up beside the F1 and sportscar equipment. In total more than 1,000 race cars will race on the track, with over 1,000 drivers driving them. Among the names that will climb behind the wheel are names from the past of sportscars and Formula One, as well as names familiar to fans of modern racing. BTCC man Rob Austin and Avon Tyres British GT driver Michael Lyons will both race in the GP Master, Ausin one of the drivers in Arrows machinery, Lyons in a Hesketh.

Lyons' British GT rival Gregor Fisken will also be in action, while Roger Wills – one of many to be listed as driver for numerous cars – has also been in action for CRS Racing this season.

More familiar names will be behind the wheel of Morgan Roadsters for the Celebrity Challenge, Rick Parfitt Jr. returning to defend the crown he won last year, but with 13 other celebrities to fend off.

Off track the entertainment includes live music – 10cc and Suzy Quattro headlining on Saturday night – a funfair, traction engine fair, hot air balloon fly-outs and air displays from the Red Devils and WWII fighter aircraft. The petrol head fans, however, will find more to take their attention away from the track in the 7,000 classic cars from over 100 car clubs and the British Lawnmower Grand Prix, taking place on the outside of the circuit between Copse and Maggotts.

Even the transport across the sprawling site is bound to draw attention, a fleet of Routemaster buses ready to circle the track and shuttle between the two paddocks in use for the weekend.

For more details on the event visit www.silverstoneclassic.com and the provisional entry lists for all the races are available here.