This year it was a matter of setting eyes and legs to NEC speed. Held up by dithering dawdlers on the A46 – my own fault for going cross-country to Stoneleigh – and with the weather forecast’s ‘don’t panic, don’t panic, weather warning’ of snow flurries, Race Retro 2013 had to be swiftly ‘done’.
Truth be told, there were a few ‘seen-its’ in the halls, which made my visit all the easier and compensated for my obsessive drooling over Classic Team Lotus’s superb display of Sixties F1 machinery. These tiny cigar tubes – which were as fragile as they appear – never cease to amaze with their ickle scale and beautiful proportions. After overdosing on Jim Clark and wobbly-webbed wheelness, it was back to striding out and scorching the carpet.
As ever, there’s a healthy contingent of Group B rally machinery, but was stopped in my tracks by the sight of an MG Metro 6R4 with its engine cover raised – and for once, there wasn’t a group of bobble-hats bickering over whether or not the 6R4 was a true rear-engined machine. Each time I see one of these machines – possibly my favourite GpBer – I’m always reminded of when FISA canned the category, forcing manufacturers to sell off their homologation runs for just tuppence ha’penny. If memory serves, I seem to recall hearing that ARG punted out 6R4s for just £20k. Oh well, another lifetime perhaps…
I managed to catch up with the Bankses of Alfaholics, who had just one car on their stand – and it wasn’t a 105-series GTA-R. This was a fresh restoration of something more unusual, a 1962 Giulietta SZ coda tronca that was once a Scuderia St. Ambroeus team car. Having seen action at Le Mans in 1963 and the 1964 Targa Florio, the coda tronca (long tail) was effectively a halfway evolution between the original coda tonda (round tail) SZ and the SZ’s successor, the 1963 TZ.
Other notables included the Rover P6 from the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally (which was up for sale), the Stirling Moss’s Monaco GP-winning Ferrari-whooping Rob Walker Lotus 18, a Citroën DS with rally previous, a WSM Sprite, an E30 BMW M3 DTM racer in full eye-blinking Jägermeister livery and a pair of TWR XJ-S racers – albeit it on different stands.
Trade stands seemed to be up on last year, but it wasn’t helped by some deciding to shut-up early at 4pm – although, in all fairness, the autojumble was freezing and more suited to storing meat. Still, my injured bank account was probably mightily relieved.
Anyway, enough of the Friday – here is our Saturday selection from Race Retro’s highlight, the live rally stage.
That’s all the excitement for this year, so we’ll see you there for another fix in 2014. Oh and in case you haven’t seen this, we caught this prime piece of banter between Hot Rod god, Barry Lee, and that bloke off the telly, Tiff Needell.