Historic sports car racing – behind the scenes of SSTV

This weekend saw myself, and the team behind the Special Stage Rally TV series launch a new series, focusing on UK motor racing. For the launch, we joined the Historic Sports Car Club (HSCC) for their 50th anniversary races at Croft.

Classics DrivenWith action covering championships from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, the paddock was both priceless, and staggering, featuring everything from classic touring cars, to historic Formula Ford and GT cars.

The seductive combination of fat historic racing tyres, iconic liveries, and the smell of Castrol-R hanging in the air reminded me of my childhood, visiting various motorsport events with my family.

Watching the race crews at work readying their cars for the various races seemed somehow reminiscent of the scenes you’ll find in a ’70s copy of Car and Car Conversions magazine. The sights, sounds, and of course action on track served as a reminder of what I love so much about motor racing.

Classics DrivenBig names from the world of motor racing, including Ray Mallock, and one of my all-time inspirations Tiff Needell, both of whom will feature alongside me in our first SSTV programme in a few weeks’ time, on Sky channel Motors TV, and in HD online.

The event marked 50 years of historic sports car racing, with Castle Combe the venue for the launch race back in 1966. One of the highlights of the weekend was a recreation grid, and demonstration race, featuring 15 cars, some of which – along with their drivers – featured in that original race.

As well as filming for the TV show, I broadcast a live show from the grid walk and onboard the lead D-Type Jaguar; a dream come true, and an experience I’ll never forget. You can relive the action over on my website, HERE.

For now, here’s a selection of photos taken behind the scenes – on and off the track – as we filmed the TV show. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for the latest updates, HERE.

The pot of gold at the end of a race track

From being a kid, visiting races and rallies with my Dad, the first treat of the day was always the spectator carpark. 

Classics DrivenWatch any rally video (yes – VIDEO, like VHS) from the ’70s and ’80s and you’ll be able to feast on a selection of motorsport inspired creations that started life as Mk1 Escorts, Minis and Lotus Cortinas.

These days, invariably you’ll have to fight your way through a swathe of Skoda Yetis, Subaru Forresters and Honda Civics before you find the odd gem. But at times, this is not necessary – like, for example the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship round at Cadwell Park.

There were Gartrac G3 Escorts, Mk1s Escorts, Minis, Lotus Cortinas and Lotus Elans among the classic motoring exotica on display before you even made it as far as the service area.

So I thought I’d share a few of them here for you. Just like the good old days. Enjoy!

Superstar Capri raises the bar

Classic Fords have for a long time now been a moving target for those saving to buy a good one. But if you’ve been looking for a Capri 280 Brooklands, you can expect to spend a few more years watching the pennies.

Classics DrivenThe news that a gaggle of iconic Fords smashed all manner of reserves and records at a recent auction has sent waves through the classic car world.

And not only that, the news went global; monopolising social media channels for a large part of this week.

At the heart of the story, was our Capri film – you can read the story on the Daily Mail Online over on Paul’s blog, HERE.

Meanwhile, we’ll weigh up whether we’d prefer to spend our cash on an E-Type, a Capri, or a house.


Italian Independence is coming!

Don’t worry, we haven’t gone all political on you and decided to analyse the current state of the EU. It’s actually the title of Paul’s next film, starring the iconic Fiat 500.

Classics DrivenIn many ways, having such an iconic car – in both design and concept – gave post-war Italy a chance to catapult itself into the heart of European culture.

Once again, we’ve teamed up with the UK’s leading classic car hire company, Great Escape Cars to bring you the latest in our series of classic motoring films.

We’ll be combining the release of the full film, with an exciting chance for you to win the chance to get behind the wheel of this great example of the original Cinquecento. For now though, here’s a preview of what you can look forward to…

Don’t forget to check out Paul Woodford’s entire #CarFilms series HERE. And we’d love you to join the discussion on Twitter.

The Classics Driven Team

Cars can be heroes

I was filming at the Autosport International show at the NEC in Birmingham this week, and as you can imagine there was enough content there to keep me going for the whole of the year. When it comes to classic motoring, at least.

Classics DrivenFrom ex works Group B rally cars, to the latest LeMans winning car, there is something for everyone. But for me, this year’s event was all about two cars; the Williams FW14 and FW18.

The numbers perhaps don’t mean much to you. But if I tell you that they are the cars with which Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill won the Formula One World Championship for Williams, you will perhaps take a look at my age, and realise that these two cars both define me as a petrolhead, and tell a big story about why I’m so passionate about F1.

Oh, and because the newest of these cars is 20 years old, that makes it a ‘modern classic’ and means I can blog about them here.

Classics DrivenEverything about the ’90s for me gave me enough fire for my motorsport passion to burn eternally; the car designs, the noise of the engines, the technology, the characters, the sponsors, the quality of the racing, and the glamour.

Williams, in fact had brought along cars to represent every era of their history, including their latest project in partnership with Jaguar for the latest Bond movie – the C-X75. Indeed, Felipe Massa also piloted the Tag-sponsored FW08C in the live arena show, which was quite a spectacle.

Classics DrivenBut for me, seeing the Hill Rothmans car, and the Mansell ‘Red Five’ gave me an energy that only a true petrolhead and motorsport nut would understand.

These cars are heroes of my childhood, and I wanted to share both my feelings, and photos from the moment I met them. Oh, and here’s the 1983 FW08C in action…


The ‘charm’ of classic motoring

Classics DrivenI often get all poetic when I’m talking about classic cars, talking about the ‘charm’ of classic motoring. I was reminded of that ‘charm’ this week, while filming the iconic Saab 900 Turbo.

Half way through filming the car, and – I might add – prior to filming any panning shots with the car on the move, the engine cut out while idling. On getting it started again, it very quickly became apparent that the problem was more than just a rough idle.

In these moments, sometimes the funniest experiences present themselves, and an elderly female dog walker approached and diagnosed the fault. “I think you’ve got a broken head gasket,” she Classics Drivensaid. She was of course right, and I remember thinking to myself that moments like that are what we must all mean when we say ‘character building’.

So, while I work on my cliche definitions, on shortening the script, and on producing a film devoid of any exterior shots of the car on the move, I’ll leave you with my reaction to the afore-mentioned ‘character building’ moment.


Alfa GTV – the finale?!

Ok, well perhaps it’s not quite that dramatic, but at the end of my week with the startlingly fun little Italian pocket rocket, it’s film time.

Classics DrivenI’ve tried to do what I’ve done with my other films and offer a fresh angle on the GTV, taking into account some of the discussion that’s been going on through Twitter this week on the back of my daily driver blog series.

I produce these films from start to finish using an iPhone, and an iPad, and accompanying kit which totals the grand sum of £12. In fact, on my personal blog, I’ve given you a bit of a behind-the-scenes tour of one of my ‘film shoots’.

These are non-commercial, I make them so you can enjoy them. And at the same time, I might just have a little bit of fun along the way, too.

Don’t forget to join in on Twitter!

Daily driver blog – Alfa Romeo GTV (part 5)

Part of the fun of driving round in a (modern!) classic car, is the reaction you get from people in the petrol station, and the supermarket carpark.

Classics DrivenHaving said that, the reaction I got today when someone came to talk to me about the GTV wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

As well as that, part 5 of my daily driver ‘vlog’ comes to you from the back seat; seemingly the most interesting part of the car. Well, that and the boot.

We’ve established so far that it’s fast, it sounds nice, and it’s got an auxiliary boot release in the glove box.

So, what is life like in the back of the Alfa Romeo GTV? Find out in part 5…

Daily driver blog – Alfa Romeo GTV (Part 4)

The Alfa GTV is an interesting car, and for part 4 of my daily driver blog, I thought I’d open up the floor to your curiosity, answering Tweets about the car.

imageFrom where to store your toothbrush on a weekend away, to how to open the boot, you asked the questions and I answered them…I’m just not sure how useful the answers will be to you, frankly.

Even though the GTV is still recent enough to see the odd example floating round, let’s be honest when was the last time you saw a car older than six years old on the road?

For that reason alone, driving this car on a daily basis is a fun experience. And that’s before we get to the sound that 3 litre V6 makes. Have I mentioned that yet?

The film is almost ready to go live, so I’ll share that with you soon. In the meantime, here’s part 4 of the ‘vlog’…