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The first edition of the Normandy Beach Race took place on Saturday, 21 September on the beach of Ouistreham Riva-Bella (France, Normandy, Calvados).
Photos Grégoire Thorel
After participating in the Race of Gentlemen on the beach in California, friends Thomas Hervé, Jean-Marc Lazzari and Marc Félix were inspired to create the first such event in France. Everyone was encouraged to dress in 1940s style and the French, who love their period dress, responded with enthusiasm. This event was a real success with nearly 15,000 spectators coming to see the 80 or so European and American participants with their 2, 3 and 4-wheel vehicles from before 1947.
From humble beginnings in 2014, the Bernina Gran Turismo 2019 event proved there is an ncreasing appetite for a sociable hillclimb amongst owners of great cars. Staged on the Bernina pass just outside of the chic resort of St Moritz, this year’s event brought out an even greater variety of cars to run in the competition and regularity categories, with little distinction between the two - the road is closed and participants can run at any speed they choose. It is a chance for collectors to bring out some cars that they might not usually race.
Dates for next year’s Tour Auto have been announced as 20-25 April. Each year a marque or type of car is favoured and next year will be the turn of the roadgoing Porsche Prototypes to take priority for entries. Expect to see 550 sypders, 904 GTS, Carrera Abarth and more. The itinerary for next year’s event has not yet been announced, but entries for this oversubscribed event can be made on the Peter Auto website: peterauto.peter.fr.
Undoubtedly the major attractions at the Grand Prix Historique du Pas De Calais on 6-7 July were the two rounds of the 500 Owners Association Circuit Championship. Many of the 500 racers are also Formula Junior drivers, and they were well represented at Croix, led by likely winner Mike Fowler (Cooper Mk 5). Martin Sheppard (Effyh “Brynfan Tydfyn“), Xavier Kingsland (Staride Mk3), Duncan Rabagliati (Comet Mk1) and Andy Rayner (Cooper) were also amongst the tourists from the other side of the Manche, while Elva 200 Lurani racer Gilbert Lenoir brought along three of his cars to race, the French built Terigi for Simon Frost, and two invitation cars, the front-engined, Monopole FJ for Jean-Luc Renard and the ex-Harry Schell 1950 Monaco F1 GP Cooper-JAP v-twin for journalist Dominique Pascal, while Goodwood French commentator, Olivier Barjon was also there in his near barn find Cooper Mk II, although not yet ready to race.
Prescott is the great early August annual social occasion for VSCC members with the Orchard car park as full of desirable motor cars as is the competitors’ paddock. Rileys are always well represented and with the grandson of founder William, and son of Victor Riley, Victor Jnr in attendance, this year even more so. The hill also finds favour with Lady drivers, often sharing with their ‘other half’ which, of course, is more difficult to do when circuit racing, and there were many among the large entry.
Lyn St James crashed James Heck’s Corvette out of a star-studded Charity Pro-Am race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the weekend of 3-4 August. The seven-time Indy 500 starter and prominent sports car racer sustained minor injuries during the crash and was kept overnight in hospital as a precaution. “St. James said. “I’m really thankful that all of the safety equipment that I wore and what was on the car functioned as it was designed to. I am walking away from a pretty big hit.”
Willy T. finally won the Pro-Am race at Indianapolis Photo Courtesy SVRA
The race was won by Willy T. Ribbs and Edward Savadjian in a Duntov-prepared 1969 Corvette A Production racer, Ribbs’ first Sportscar Vintage Racing Association pro-am win after seven tries. After a close battle Geoff Brabham had taken the lead of the 50-minute race until a belt broke in his similar Corvette, shutting off his power steering and rendering the car undrivable.
“We were having a great duel with Geoff, and I honestly feel for him,” Ribbs said from the podium. “We had the deal here all but closed the last two years and then something always happened. There’s no place like the Speedway. Anytime you win here, it’s a terrific day.”
Previews of upcoming events, Race & Rally Reports, News, Reviews, Letters and Regulation Information from our current issue.
These stories are all from the current issue of Historic MotorRacing News. Some have been abbreviated for this web site. If you'd like to receive the full version, go to Subscribe where you will find postal subscriptions available. A full subscription also entitles you to access the current issue online, so you can take it with you and read it anywhere, as well as full access to our archives of back issues and to our exclusive subscribers information and bulletin area that will soon become available.
Bits & Pieces
Return of the Works Bugatti 59/50B
In July 1939 Jean Bugatti accepted the invitation to compete at the first Bugatti Owners’ Club International Prescott Hillclimb and brought the monoposto Type 59 fitted with 8-cylinder supercharged 4.7-litre type 50B engine for his works driver Jean-Pierre Wimille. The car came second in the event behind the ERA of Raymond Mays. Except for its single post-war outing in 1945 in the hands of Wimille at the Coupe des Prisonniers in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, the 59/50B was not to be driven again and like so many Bugattis, ended up in the Schlumpf collection, which has now become the French National motor museum - Cité de l’Automobile in Mulhouse. This summer the car will return to Prescott after 80 years as part of the Bugatti Trust’s summer exhibition, just as the Bugatti Owners Club that owns Prescott celebrates its 90th anniversary this year with a special anniversary edition of the famous hillclimb on 25-26 May