YES, FINALLY it’s Race Retro time. Usually, this show is a welcome sight because it heralds the end of retro classic hibernation, but this year it was more of a blessed relief because it signalled the end of a particularly long, harsh and frost-bity winter. So we really couldn’t wait to get through the gates and into the show.
Two iconic marques were featured this year – Alfa Romeo and Norton – along with the Audi Quattro. Although, 2010 is the 30th anniversary of the Quattro, we were a bit puzzled by its inclusion in the RR’s headliners. Haven’t we all really had enough of Quattro hype thanks to Gene Hunt’s BBC exploits…? Plus, it never really stood a chance against one of motoring’s most epic marques celebrating its centenary.
To compare the esteem in which Alfa and Quattro are held, all you had to do was compare the static trio of Quattros against the dozens of fantastic Alfas on display inside. It did look a bit of an afterthought, but then the Quattro’s appeal will no doubt fight back on the Rally Stage outside when the air is heavy with blown five-cylinders. Ho-hum…
Moan over – it has to be said that the 2010 Race Retro was the most successful event yet. I attended on the Friday and it felt more like a Saturday, meanwhile Gez was there on both Friday and Saturday and the halls were flooded with visitors. No doubt many of whom were attracted by the new rally stage which packed its own jump to spice things up a bit.
Talking of rallying highlights, Hall 1 hosted a fascinating collection of old campaigners from the 1970 World Cup Rally with pride of place going to the irreplaceable Hannu Mikkola Escort FEV 1H, amid Ken Green’s ex-Works Landcrab, a Triumph 2500 and a Hillman Hunter. Mental note, must put WCR40 at Gaydon on the 18th April in the diary.
It was really good to see the recently restored Gp2 Broadspeed XJ12C on M&C Wilkinson’s stand. After years of looking sorry for itself at the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and an comprehensive 18 month restoration, the car is back on the track. Indeed, it won on its debut at the Master 1970s touring car race at Mallory Park and is now the only race ready Broadspeed coupé in the world.
Sticking with Seventies tin-tops, the Super Saloon Association displayed two bonkers racers – a Chevvy small-block powered Beetle and an insane Buick V8 powered DAF 55 coupé, which must pack one mighty rubber band in its CVT.
However, I can’t really go on much more without talking about the superb spread of tasty Alfas which were present that started to make your tastebuds tingle as soon as you entered the main gate with a brace of iconic Milanese GP legends: a Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo Tipo B (P3) and an Alfa 8C-308.
The organisers had worked hard with the Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club to display a wide range of exotic cars, such as a Tipo 33/2, a 8C 2300 Short Chassis Corsa Spyder, a 6C 1750 Super Sport and an Targa Florio RLSS.
Yet, despite such a line up, the Alfa I left a small puddle of drool near was the beautiful graphite and maroon GTA replica on the Alfaholics stand. The Banks family firm is clearly going from strength to strength and Max stated a desire to become the Alfa equivalent to Eagle E-types.
One day Rodders, one day…
Other personal highlights, one of the 1934 Mille Miglia Works MG K3 Magnettes, was showing off its return to Mille Miglia slab-tank bodywork – chassis K3015 was driven by Count ‘Johnny’ Lurani and C Penn Hughes to an incredible 10th place overall and second in class. Plus a place in the history books as the first non-Italian car to finish this famously gruelling event. Having driven one of these jewel-like supercharged screamers, regular readers will know that I’m always a sucker for K3 and can’t wait until I get another chance to be behind one of those tiny straight sixes.
Lurking around near the bikes (yep, there were lots of Nortons), amid a nice selection of pie-crust slick shod retro drag racers, was the UK’s first quarter mile contender – the Allard Chrysler. Built by Sydney Allard, who played a leading role in importing drag racing from the US, the car is now in need of restoration and the stand was all about promoting the project in association with RR. More information is available at www.theaccelerationarchive.co.uk.
Denis Welch Motorsport was also showing their record-breaking – 153.44mph and 1000km in just over four hours at 148.33mph – Austin-Healey 100. The original car inspired a limited run of 50, 100S models, and now this record-holding recreation has lead to many 100S parts being available once again. Yes it may have been splattered in all manner of ickiness, but it is a beautiful piece of work.
Again, there were famous faces everywhere, which included: Brian Culcheth, Stig Blomqvist, Russell Brookes, former Alfa Romeo F1 driver Bruno Giacomelli, Steve Parish, Phil Read, Barry ‘Whizzo’ Williams, Tony Mason and Trevor Nation. The autojumble was bigger and better than ever, offering a pair of Super Two specials and a £1250 Ford 2.9 V6 still in its factory crate, but alas all my budget could stretch to was half a dozen 1:43 competition Alfa models from an ask-no-questions sort of geezer.
Criticisms? Well, if Race Retro keeps going the way it is, I fear that this may be one of those classic events with so much going on, that it’s impossible to see everything in just one day. Oh dear, hard cheese and all that…