In a new addition to the busy Silverstone Classic programme organisers have released details of a ‘celebrity’ race which will see ‘personalities’ let loose round the Silverstone circuit in a field of Austin A35s. Using the format that worked so well in the St Mary’s Trophy at Goodwood this year, the ‘star’ drivers will share their cars with the Austins’ owners with a race for each over the July Classic weekend.
Personalities that have already confirmed their intention to compete include celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, comedian Stan Boardman, Dragon’s Den TV star Theo Paphitis, snooker icon Dennis Taylor and Neil Primrose, drummer for double BRIT winning band Travis. Bike racing world champion Wayne Gardner will also be switching to four wheels for this very special showdown over the weekend of July 21st to the 23rd.
In keeping with the event’s prominence as the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival, these luminaries will all be racing in a huge grid of identical Austin A35 saloons from the late fifties. Celebrities will split into teams representing their professions – for example chefs, TV, sport and music – and each team will be mentored by a renowned racing driver. British Touring Car champions Gordon Shedden, Robb Gravett and Andrew Jordan have already signed up to captain three of the teams.
The competition itself will be split into two parts. Owners of the race-prepared A35s will qualify on Friday and race on Sunday with the celebrities together with their team captains in action on Saturday - which should see Shedden and Jordan resume their close Goodwood Revival Austin battle . Given the propensity of the little Austins to roll when treated harshly, it will be interesting to see how many are left for Sunday’s race.
“We have included celebrity races in the past at the Silverstone Classic but never before on this epic scale – it’s going to be an exciting and popular addition to what’s already an amazing weekend of entertainment for all the family,” enthused Nick Wigley, CEO of event organiser Goose Live Events. “This must be the biggest opportunity ever for so many celebs from lots of different fields to compete against each other on a racetrack. We put the word out a couple of weeks ago and the response already has been fantastic – everyone seems to be scrambling for their 2017 diaries!”
The star-studded showdown was officially launched on Saturday (5th November) at the Regent Street Motor Show where the Silverstone Classic stand featured three of the racy A35s that are being added to the bill at next summer’s extravaganza. The cars are well-known in classic racing circles and were introduced a few years ago by the Historic Racing Drivers Club (HRDC) as a cost-effective route into historic racing. More than 50 have now been built, guaranteeing an enormous grid – not to mention some unmissable enjoyment for contestants and crowds – come next July.