After a record breaking 2011 event this year's Silverstone Classic powered by the AA is set to once more be a huge event in the British motorsport year, the three day event bringing together packed grids of cars representing the last 60 years of several racing disciplines including Touring cars, F1 and Group C sportscars.
In 2011 more than 1,000 racing cars took part in the on track action and the 2012 edition will feature a full program of 24 races, several already boasting capacity 58 cars grids several months before the weekend (July 20-22).
The program brings together the best of the action from last year with new races set to wow the crowds that squeeze into the Silverstone circuit for the weekend.
After being part of the celebration of the car's 50th anniversary last year – which included a 767 car parade around the Grand Prix track – certified as a world record – the E-Type Challenge will return for a second year. Likewise the Historic Formula Junior drivers return for another year after providing one of the highlights of last year's event. In the two races for the cars last year Sam Wilson and John Milicevic battled all race, finally being split by just a fraction of a second as Silverstone Classic hosted one of the finest weekends for one of the closest rivalries in all of British club racing in 2011.
Another of the seemingly endless highlights from the weekend were the evocative Group C endurance racers. Given prime billing as the last race on the Saturday as dusk descended spectators were given the chance to see the cars – Silk Cut liveried Jaguars, silver Sauber Mercedes and ex-works Nissans included – lights ablaze around the Silverstone Grand Prix track in a race that provided some of the most striking pictures from the entire weekend.
In 2012 those scenes will be repeated as the Group C cars return and are once more given the dusk slot on Saturday night, just before the nights entertainment – live music just another feather to Silverstone Classic's already fully fledged bow.
New for this year are races from Touring cars from the 70s, 80s and 90s representing the British European and German championships and the Peter Gethin Memorial Trophy for historic Formula Two and F5000 cars. The Touring Car race ties into one of many anniversary celebrations taking place at Silverstone Classic.
After the record breaking number of E-Types present in 2011 several classic sportscars celebrate their own milestones in 2012.
Classic British cars – the Lotus Elan, Triumph Spitfire and MGB celebrate their half centuries (Silverstone Classic chosen by the MGB50 Committee as one of just three official events during 2012). In its 25th year an unprecedented number of Ferrari F40s are expected to be on display with the Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 sharing the same silver anniversary as the famed Maranello machine.
The RS500 – which terrorized Touring Cars in the late 80s and early 90s – epitomized the Group A regulations of the time taking overall race wins and championships across the world. Several examples are due to be part of a bumper grid of Touring Cars representing the later decades of the twentieth century with several on hand at the Silverstone Classic media launch including the ex-Tim Harvey Labatt's Cosworth, Steve Soper's BTCC BMW M3 and the Team Dynamics Nissan Primera driven by now triple champion Matt Neal during the 1990s.
The race of Formula Two and F5000 cars – named in honour of F1 race winner and F5000 champion Peter Gethin, who passed away last year – will unite some of the 'giant killing' single-seaters of the 1960s and 70s.
“It's just a lovely occasion and actually an absolute privilege to see and meet other drivers racing cars from that era and who want to carry on that spirit,” said Peter's son Nick of the race named in father's honour. “The race will be a very emotional occasion for many people. My father would have been proud as punch and touched greatly that so many of his contemporaries thought so highly of him.”
Another feature on track is the return of the Celebrity Challenge race, with racers including Sir Patrick Stewart and Brendan Cole already confirmed.
Off track more than 120 car clubs present thousands of cars from the historic to the exotic around the Silverstone infield, the festivities this year including the UK's first ever 'Z-Fest' celebrating BMWs race of roadsters.
The AA – new event sponsors for 2012 – plan to lay on 'AA World' around the Stowe Complex. The attraction is set to include a range of free driving experiences, including hot laps around the Stowe Circuit in some of today's most desirable cars. For the younger generations electric vehicles – and the chance to get their first experience behind the wheel of a real car – feature outside with an FI simulator, pitstop challenge and giant Scalextric track set up inside.
After the day's activity ends the evening's activity begins with live music on the stage, this year including Adam Ant, Mike and the Mechanics and supergroup Snakecharmer.
For more information on the event, including the chance to buy tickets, go to www.silverstoneclassic.com.