New Year, new resolutions and even new ambitions, time then to kick things off at Stoneleigh Park and join this year’s celebration of McLaren’s 50th anniversary at the 2014 Race Retro.
We’ve been to the Classic Car Show at the NEC, sampled the earthiness of the Beaulieu Auto-jumble and enjoyed the live action played out on track at the Silverstone Classic. In the past we’ve also regularly attended the Goodwood Festival of Speed and this year booked weekend tickets and a camping pitch at the Le Mans Classic which just leaves the Goodwood Revival at the top of the ClassicCarsDriven.com office to-do list. In between times we’ve visited local shows at the Shepton Mallet Showground, Tetbury and Castle Combe’s super little Autumn Classic. Whether big or small, National or local we are working our way through everything on offer and so the question we had in our minds was where does 2014 Race Retro fit within the overall scheme of things.
We attended on Friday 21st February when there was no racing on the rally stage so direct comparisons immediately shifted away from the much larger and grander Goodwood Festival of Speed, although on a much smaller scale that comparison could still be made on Saturday or Sunday. No our first impressions of our 2014 Race Retro experience placed this event somewhere south of the Classic Car Show at the NEC and north of the Beaulieu Auto-Jumble. 2014 Race Retro being smaller in scale than the first and having far less stuff than the second. All three events host Silverstone Auctions of course.
The unusual layout of the Stoneleigh Park site involves parking on the grid of roads that mark out the square blocks of land, some with buildings, others simply covered in grass. Before following the crowd into an unlikely looking array of business units, one houses the auction with another around the corner providing entrance to the four main interlinked halls that house car displays, car clubs, memorabilia and auto-jumble. The agricultural feel of this time warp business park is never far away which if nothing else does provide for a relaxing and unimposing setting.
Once inside Hall 2 things begin to look very familiar to anyone who frequents the Classic Car Show at the NEC. 2014 Race Retro celebrates 50 years of McLaren and prominently displayed three prime examples including Emerson Fittipaldi’s Texaco livered F1 car. Move around the main halls and on offer are race car sales such as Richard Thorne’s line up of competition prepared Morgan’s and racing clubs such as the Historic Sports Car Club (HSCC). This being the unique nature of the show with focus fairly and squarely on classic race and rally cars and everything you need to have a go or get involved yourself. The similarity to other classic car shows is more to do with common items like the tools, parts, paint preparation and literature you require to keep your pride and joy alive along with the same memorabilia everyone enjoys so much.
Silverstone Auctions is always worth a visit and in keeping with the Race Retro way had an excellent selection of race and rally cars on display, many road-legal with full MOTs. Conceivably you could bid on Saturday or Sunday before driving away on Monday after all necessary funds cleared. Of all the auctions I’ve attended this was probably my favourite catalogue to view live confirming a personal bias for anything fitted with a roll cage, bucket seat and fire extinguisher. Some of the assembled machines looked new and therefore perhaps as yet untested out on track with others giving completely the opposite impression with their exposed battle scars and paddock style repairs. Tie wraps to open the doors on the inside of an Elan for instance, yep that should get it through scrutineering.
If you find the Classic Car Show at the NEC too big and Beauleigh Auto-Jumble just too outside or fancy something that falls between the two and with a competition bias then Race Retro could easily be the show for you. Its central location makes most of England around two hours away by car and the laid back nature of the unusual site layout ensures it is never imposing or can ever be accused of taking itself too seriously. Shame we didn’t get to see the live rally stage.
How does this event make you feel?
In one word: Ronseal.
As a favourite meal: Pork and stuffing in a roll.
Anything Else: Retro location, retro show, retro race cars, retro race car auction, retro stands, retro crowd, ermm retro..?
Key Ingredients: Race and rally focussed Silverstone Auctions catalogue along with the similarly biased stands, displays and memorabilia. Mainly indoor event means if it rains you would only get wet walking between Silverstone Auctions and the main display halls.
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