With queues stretching for miles in all directions around Goodwood these days is it time to look much closer to home and get a taste of nostalgia without all the fuss and expense of much larger events. Maybe and as Castle Combe Circuit is only nine miles up the road whilst wearing my Bristol Motor Club Chairman’s hat, and tweed jacket of course, I organised a paddock display and spent the day at the 2015 Autumn Classic.
Arriving at 8:30am, after painlessly nipping through some local lanes in the TVR, there was absolutely no issue at all getting into the 2015 Autumn Classic. Also because we had set up our Gazebo the day before the Saturday was simply a case of arrive and smile. In the 1960s Bristol Motor Club (Bristol Motorcycle and Light Car Club) ran hillclimbs at Dyrham Park and this display ‘The Essence of Dyrham’ was to celebrate that fact. We had 22 cars booked that either competed or were around at the time, you might say a truly eclectic mix from the 1930s, 1950s, 1960s and, somewhat cheekily, from the 1970s as well. The latter you might say to give an idea of what might have been if the hillclimb had been allowed to continue.
Even though most cars had pre-booked with us, we also grabbed a few more tasty morsels by diverting owners away from the public parking areas to our space instead. These included an immaculate Fiat 595 Abarth and genuine 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS. Well it just had to be done didn’t it; some also took away a membership form so here’s hoping that a small act of generosity results in a boost to the BMC fold.
Looking around in between times during the day it was apparent the 2015 Autumn Classic had evolved massively from previous years, there was for instance dedicated parking for all the classic cars people had brought along and out on-track the promise of some great racing courtesy of the VSCC Pre-War, HSCC Historic Touring Cars, Historic Aston Martins, Austin Healey 3000s, Jaguars, 500cc F3s, and a 1950s Inter-Marque challenge. Not bad for a local event costing between £15.00 to £20.00 to spectate and devoid of any serious queuing to get in.
Now the attention to detail at the Goodwood Revival is going to be very difficult to match, especially given the disparity in budgets. With that in mind the 2015 Autumn Classic should instead be regarded as a taster event where if you like this, then you’ll like the bigger events even more. The benefit of Castle Combe being a smaller site which brings everything much closer together and far easier to navigate.
When the racing was being played out live on track the crowds duly took to the banks to watch. Then once one race had finished and before the next one began they descended en-mass to the display areas including, I’m very pleased to say, ours. What a great way to spend a day, classic racing immediately out in front with classic displays just behind. The 2015 Autumn Classic offered much and without the need to trawl miles and miles.
If the cars were interesting to look at then their owners were the icing on top of a rather delicious cake. After all driving around in vehicles that are likely to breakdown at any-time is surely the reserve of the insane. Still stick enough of us together and that translates into endless stories of trials, tribulations as well as past glories and interesting histories. For instance the owner of the 911E that joined us on the day bumped into someone who had owned the very same car in the 1980s and still had all the paperwork for it, how cool is that with a bit more of the story now uncovered for him.
That same enthusiasm translated into a very positive atmosphere helped by the dry, albeit misty to start with conditions giving way to cloud later on. There was a definite buzz about the place and given the number of uplifting conversations I had with people who attended our display an absolute joy to support this event. We even had someone say he had competed every year the Dyrham Hillclimb was run and the display had brought it all back in one day, testament indeed.
How does this event make you feel?
In one word: Pleased.
As a favourite meal: A classic event and so a very nice classic burger went down well.
Anything else: An event going places with decent displays and great racing out on track.
Key ingredients: Ease of access, relatively low ticket price, closeness of displays to main spectator areas, friendliness and variation of all cars present.
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