Silverstone Classic – 28th, 29th, 30th July 2017
Thursday – set up
As is our usual practice, Rob and I arrived at Silverstone early on Thursday morning to help set up the JEC stand and then retire to the pits to enjoy the afternoon watching practice runs in nostalgic and exotic racing machines. No description can really recreate the smells, the sounds and the sights – you need to be there, in the thick of it – not in the stands, but among the dedicated racing fraternity!
Friday – Day 1
Jaguar Classic Challenge from The Wing
Saturday – Day 2
This has become the busiest day of the event and for me this was the best day of the three.
In collaboration with Silverstone, Don Law had organised a celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the XJ220. Forty XJ220’s met up in the pit area – a number never seen before in one place (apart from the factory where they were built, maybe?). One more XJ220 was tucked away at the back of the Jaguar Hospitality suite, that being the original prototype built by the Saturday club, bringing the total to 41.
Trying to conjure the spirit and atmosphere of an event is not easy, and so to those not there on the day, to say that the sun shone in the warm pit area and glinted off the bodies of 40 XJ220’s while excited drivers, passengers and onlookers milled around them taking photos and waiting for the first roar of an engine firing up in readiness for the parade will not really do the event any justice at all.
In the background, racing cars were being fired up and shunted around; busy mechanics, race technicians, owners and drivers scurried around on every manner of transport imaginable, all of which needed to be avoided while still trying to pay attention to the XJ220’s!
Rob Jenner and I arrived in the pit area in the midst of all of this, and as our eyes fell upon a long row of XJ220’s which had grown from a dozen or so the evening before, we agreed that we would first count them, to save any disputes on how many were present on the day. We unanimously and independently agreed that there were 40 cars here plus the prototype in the Jaguar Hospitality area. I then elected to photograph each one and to record it in my newsletter, while Rob was drawn immediately to the four racing examples!
About half way down the line, Rob rushed across to me to say that Jim Randle had been looking for me to offer me a passenger ride in the XJ220 he was driving on the circuit for the parade – sadly, by the time we had found Jim again he had offered the seat to Keith Helfet’s wife. Checking the list with the marshal to see who else may have an empty passenger seat, the only one available was Rick Wilmott and by the time we found Rick, his seat had been ‘sold’ to Andy Webber of South Wales JEC Region in exchange for an ice cream! Rob’s response to this was ‘Letitia, you buy this man 2 ice creams while I find Andy and break both his legs!’
Rob was now on a mission, determined to secure me my first ride in an XJ220 on the famous Silverstone circuit, despite there being no hope of him also being able to take part in what was likely to be a one in a lifetime opportunity. It wasn’t looking hopeful, and I had just about resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t going to happen, and tell Rob not to worry, when someone called my name and as I turned to see who it was, John Butterworth said ‘Would you like to be a passenger in my XJ220 for the parade?’ I was so utterly stunned, that I gave John a kiss which made his wife, Kathy, laugh and as she explained that she didn’t want to go on the parade, I then kissed her for making my dream come true!
Being a passenger with Jim Randle would have been very special, as he was the instigator of the XJ220 and I was Jim’s passenger in my own car at the XJ40 Anniversary Celebration last year, however, John Butterworth is a dear friend and tying this event in with the XJ220 Re-union which I organised for the JEC back in 2012, it was John’s car that my daughter had her picture taken with, so maybe it was meant to be?
As we turned into the pit lane to join the track, I saw to my left Tony O’keeffe, waving and smiling at me. Afterwards I said ‘That seemed so strange – I have always been the onlooker watching you taking part in parades and the like!’
As we came down the pit straight at the end of the first lap and I saw Rob leaning over the barrier, waving and taking pictures, I knew how lucky I was!
With the four racing XJ220’s leading the way, almost all of the 41 XJ220’s joined the parade for the two laps of Silverstone Circuit at a pace that no XJ220 would be ashamed of, and thus aptly celebrated this landmark 25th anniversary!
Sunday – Day 3
Another busy day, but almost an anti-climax after the excitement of the day before. The Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club once again had their stand up on the banking at Copse, and Colin Manconi’s XJ220 returned to the club stand after the XJ220 parade and joined our ‘headline display’ of sporting and modified Jaguars, in keeping with the venue! Other notable cars gracing the stand included:
|A Palmersport XKR, belonging to Swallows Racing – it had awesome power and attracted an audience when fired up, and when revved hard, set off the alarm on our X350 which was parked about 6 feet behind it!|
|Dave Bradbury’s Lister Le Mans …..|
|Neil Blaxill’s modified Mark 2 , known as ‘Mr Blink’ and Ron Sidle’s replica C-type, for which Mr Jenner offered a valet parking service!|
|Wandering across to the JDC stand we found C-type MDU 212 which, fitted with prototype disc brakes, won at Rheims in 1952, with Stirling Moss driving at an average speed of over 98 mph! This was the real car – NOT a replica!|
Wandering yet further afield, we found a prototype Triumph Hatchback featuring different treatment to either side, it was put up to customer clinics to asses preferences in styling, but unfortunately never went into production. It is a favourite of Rob Jenner’s, as this and other prototype Triumph’s were regular visitors to his home in Kenilworth when his father was an engineer at Triumph, before the company closed down and he was selected to go and work for Jaguar.
Thankfully this year, although the weather was generally overcast, the event stayed dry for all but a couple of short showers over the 4 days from set up to breakdown which allowed the racing to go on uninterrupted by the weather and provide an entertaining back drop to the amusements, shops and club stands which we all associate with Silverstone Classic.