bits and Pieces 3 March 2017 - New Book

50 years of the HSCC

At the culmination of the Historic Sports Car Club’s 2016 50th anniversary season, a substantial new book tracing 50 years of Club history was launched at the HSCC awards dinner on November 19.

Being a keen enthusiast for the history of historic racing, I rushed to get my hands on a copy, and I’m happy to say I have been rewarded for my efforts. To me the personalities, the cars and the races that were run as historic are just as enthralling as those that ran when the cars were new. And in this case, the cars were not all that old.

The 256-page, hard-back book, entitled ’50 Years of the Historic Sports Car Club’, was written by motor sport journalist and Club PR officer, Paul Lawrence, and tells the story of the HSCC form the inaugural Griffiths Formula race at Castle Combe in 1966 through to the end of the Club’s 2016 championship season. It contains 580 photographs, many never before published, and has a foreword by Sir Stirling Moss, the HSCC’s patron-in-chief. It also contains a list of all the Champions during 50 years.

In 1966 many of the best sports cars of the ‘50s and early ‘60s were being heavily modified to try to keep them competitive with more modern machinery, while others were being sold off to America. To try to turn the tide of this destruction, celebrated racing photographer, Guy Griffiths, and race and rally driver Betty Haig came up with the idea of running races for “Interesting sports cars manufactured between 1945 and 1955.” The first was to be at Castle Combe on May 14th. According to Event Secretary Michael Burn, “The raison d’être for this race meeting is to provide competition for those cars and drivers who are seldom catered for elsewhere. There will be no Minis and no Lotuses. The results will not be regarded by the organisers as of prime importance.” Neil Corner, who went on to become a stalwart of the HSCC, won the race in his D-type Jaguar.

The initiative met with great approval by the owners and drivers and from this the Historic Sports Car Club was born. However it was not plain sailing. They struggled with grid numbers in the early years, until some sponsorship (most notably from Anthony Bamford at JCB), the inclusion of later cars as the years elapsed, and a proper championship structure, saw historic racing become ever more popular. It was, however, still pretty low key and a sport for pure enthusiasts.

The book goes on to chart the highs and lows over the next decades – 1987 for example saw the birth of Historic Formula 1, the precursor of today’s FIA Championship - of what is now one of Britain’s leading historic racing clubs, becoming a race organising club in the early 1980s and going through hard financial times in the 1990s.

It also tells the story of the competitors who have raced with the HSCC over 50 years, often in their own words as they reminisce over their experiences racing with the Club. It includes records of all the Club’s championship and annual award winners. There are lovely photos of many still racing today, taken in their younger, more tender years.

The book and can be ordered from the HSCC office on +44 (0)1327 858400 and is priced at £30 plus £5 postage and packing (UK) with discounts for HSCC members and marshals.

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