Last AMOC racing meeting of 2017

Perhaps it sounds a bit dramatic: ‘last’ AMOC racing meeting of 2017, but unfortunately it is true. I wish it wasn’t, because – as always – it was a wonderful event.
I’ve been to quite a few AMOC race meetings now (last year and this year) and I am never disappointed. Some races happen every time, but they also manage to come up with different combinations or add a different race. In this case, for example, the last race of the day was a 3 hour relay.
And, as before, there is much more on track than Aston Martins. So much to see!


This Aston Martin V8 Vantage has a very unusual colour, which came out even better when it was on track racing in the sunshine.
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It’s always a good idea to get to the track early for events like this.
Chances are it won’t be too busy, so if you’re early you have plenty of time and space to walk around the paddock and get a good look around.

Some of the race cars will be in their boxes, with others in tents or in the open air somewhere else in the paddock. Either way: race cars galore!
The cars entered in the AMOC Intermarque Championship, Aston Martin GT Challenge and Pre-War Team Challenge are by now well-known to me. Especially in the case of the pre-war cars I specifically seek them out. These are, as the name of the race suggests, all pre-1940s and without exception stunning. For this day there were 16 cars on the grid, because the pre-war race was combined with the St John Horsfall Memorial Trophy. The majority of cars were Aston Martins and Bentleys, but the others (Invicta, Talbot, Alta and Austin) are equally wonderful to watch.


The Pre-War Team Challenge & The St John Horsfall Memorial Trophy is like stepping back in time.
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Of course the attending AMOC members brought their cars and these were on display throughout the day. They also went on track during the track parade, which is always a wonderful sight. Many, many Aston Martins of all types and ages go around the track for a few laps. In most cars you can see smiling people (no one is in the car alone) and around the track the smiles are returned, especially when the engines are being revved, generating gorgeous sounds.
The track parade is during lunch time, so if you decide not to get a meal you can walk around the paddock again. However this time you can go into the boxes to see the race cars up close, or walk to the pit wall and view the parade from there. The atmosphere is relaxed throughout and the owners really don’t mind if you take photos of their cars during the break. I personally love going into garage after garage and see the cars up close. I tend to find my favourites first and then have a look at as many additional (for me sometimes new) cars.

The first race was before lunch, so after lunch I had to quickly make my way back to the grand stand to watch the remaining races.
This time the afternoon races were a bit eventful. During the Pre-War Team Challenge two cars were fighting a bit too hard for the same part of the track, resulting in a crash. It didn’t seem to serious. The drivers were out of the cars quite quickly and the cars were retrieved later. However it does make you think about the question: should a classic race car be in a museum or should it be raced?
On the one hand I believe they should be raced. It’s what they were built for. But when you see two come together the first thought is ‘they should put them in a museum’. It’s a question that will be answered differently by everyone and, if you’re like me, the answer may change depending on the situation.


The cars are lining up for the start of the track parade.
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Speaking of crashes, the AMOC Intermarque Championship/GT Challenge didn’t even finish one lap. On the first lap several cars came together, causing some serious damage on some who could not continue in the race, and this caused the red flag to come out. Even though these cars are considerably younger than the pre-war cars, it is still very painful to see a beautiful Aston Martin with damage on almost all sides. I saw one of the cars that could not take part in the restarted race afterwards in the paddock and I can confess it almost brought tears to my eyes.
It was also an eye opener, as I could see underneath the car’s bonnet and it seemed the engine was unaffected due to additional bars added to the engine bay.
Also not unimportant: all drivers are fine. Some even managed to patch up the car and still compete.

This particular race was absolutely spectacular. Two Ferraris were battling for the lead, weaving their way through a very large grid. This battle continued until the chequered flag. One of the cars spun and lost the lead quite late in the race, near where I was watching. These people may not be professional race car drivers, but they do know how to race! Traffic was very effectively used to keep the opponent behind and next traffic was the cause of the second placed car catching up. The applause by all the people on the grand stand was very well deserved.


These two Ferraris were battling until the very end of the race.
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This season has truly gone out with a bang and I am a little bit sad to see the end of it. Thankfully there will be more racing next year and I will certainly be there to watch it!

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AMOC Racing, Brands Hatch, 12 August 2017

At 8:30 the day already promised to be a good one. The clouds were losing their greyness. Soon after the sun was smiling upon Brands Hatch.
The open practice session provided an easy start to this action packed day. After that the rest of the morning was dedicated to qualifying sessions.
I spent the morning exploring the track, trying to find various viewpoints for my photos. Brands Hatch is one of the most accessible tracks in that respect. There are many places you can access and usually you can see about 75% of the track. For spectators without cameras it is even better as the mesh surrounding the track is less of an obstacle.

The track parade during the lunch break was simply magnificent. There were so many cars on the track the first ones were right behind the last ones. Compared to last year there were more newer models, but I certainly spotted a few less common cars.


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The first race of the day was the Pre-War Challenge. It’s one of my favourite races. With one Talbot and several Bentleys and Aston Martins – all built in the 1920s and 1930s – it was nothing short of epic. They used the handicap format for this race: the slowest car started first and the rest were released at different times. These times were calculated with the aim of having all seven cars battling it out at the end. That didn’t quite work out, but it was a spectacle nonetheless.

Next up was the AMOC Intermarque Championship. Very early on there was drama when the #44 and #144 Porsches came into contact. The whole grid was very close together so for the cars nearby this was a near miss. The Porsches ended up in the gravel with damage that looked quite severe. They had to be recovered, so for some laps the rest of the field had to follow the safety car. Both Porsche drivers had by then walked off together, both unharmed.

The single Aston Martin in this race (the #007 V8 Vantage) had been next to the #44 when the Porsche lost control. It seemingly got away unscathed, but did retire from the race later on. I do not know why.
This left the race to the remaining BMWs, Porsches and Ferraris. The race was won by #170 BMW Evo M3 which was clearly going very fast and finished with a 40 second lead.


The #007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage in iconic Gulf livery.
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The AMOC ’50s Sports Cars race was no less spectacular. The yellow Turner Sports (#27) gave the #18 Cooper Monaco good chase, but could eventually not keep up. In turn he found himself under threat from the #26 Cooper T39 Bobtail. The Turner had to come in for an unscheduled stop, but later rejoined the race. The entire race was a wonderful battle until the end in a field with gorgeous cars. The #18 won the race.

More drama happened in the Aston Martin GT Challenge. The #007 Vantage GT4 (known as James) had one car less in front of him due to the #71 Ferrari not making the start. The Ferrari had trouble during the green flag lap and only managed to join the race after a few slow laps and two visits to the pit lane. James had lost quite a few positions at the start and was pushing hard to regain these. However, mere moments before the pit stop window closed it ended up in the gravel, which ended his race.

The #169 Ginetta seemingly had a bit of a misunderstanding with the #71 Ferrari which caused the Ginetta to momentarily try a career as a lawnmower – unsuccessfully. After an unscheduled stop it rejoined the race.
The #199 Lotus Evora was happily going around the track, apparently oblivious to the all the drama and eventually lapped the entire field. It drove off into the distance to victory. Aston Martin team mates #12 and #24 fought over second position as true sibling rivalry, but the #12 car kept his brother at bay and won the second spot trophy.


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The last race of the day was the Innes Ireland Cup. Unfortunately I only caught bits of this race as I was on my way to leave the track, but it was certainly good enough to stop here and there to appreciate the track action. There were only a few cars in this race, all lovely examples. The #85 Lotus Elan was the fastest and therefore the winner.
This fifth race concluded yet another brilliant day organised by the Aston Martin Owners Club.
I’ve been to quite a few race meetings now and I will continue to go, because the racing is superb, the cars on track are gorgeous, awesome or both and the atmosphere is always relaxed and welcoming. Bring on Silverstone in September!

AMOC Racing, Snetterton, 8 July 2017

The sun was blazing over Snetterton yesterday, the sky a beautiful blue and white blanket over the track filled with a large variety of cars, old and new.
Since I have now attended a number of AMOC race meetings, I being to recognise some of the cars out there. It just makes it all a bit more familiar. The turnout this time was absolutely amazing. This was possibly the largest number of Aston Martins (racing and attending) I have seen, apart from the Spring Concours, of course.

A (presumably nearby) dealership brought in a ‘few’ Aston Martins for everyone to enjoy. Very cleverly, they also provided a marquee where you could ask about any of the cars for sale and a financial plan, if you require one. It was tempting…


This is the Aston Martin I really want, the DB11. I will keep on dreaming…
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The day was filled to the brim with track activity. Practice first thing in the morning, qualifying sessions immediately after, race 1 before lunch. The other 5 races were in the afternoon. It simply never stopped. Just how we like it, right?
The AMOC Intermarque Championship and GT Challenge were of course the main races, but the other races were certainly just as entertaining and enjoyable.

I have to admit that my favourite non-Aston race was the MRL Historic Touring Car Challenge. I have been car crazy since a very young age (approximately 4) and to see a few Ford Capris out on track absolutely made my day. The MKII Capri was my first car love and I still turn around in the car (only when I’m a passenger of course!) when I see one out and about. In addition there were some Rovers out there too. I remember a neighbour had a big Rover when I was about 8 and I loved it. Add a Mustang and an old Alfa Romeo and you have my attention. It was a wonderfully diverse grid with some astonishingly beautiful and well kept machines.


Another favourite is the 1954 Austin-Healy 100M, driven by Paul Kennelly. He races this car in the AMOC ’50s Sports Cars and it’s always a delight to watch. What a beauty!
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When you go to an AMOC race meeting you’d better skip lunch. Because lunch time is parade time!
I was lucky enough to be part of a parade as a passenger in a beautiful DB7 at Brands Hatch last year. There were about 70 cars on track that time. It seems there were more at Snetterton yesterday, but I honestly didn’t count them. They only got three laps, so I spent all my time enjoying the view and trying to photograph as many as I could.

I did just say that the Capris made my day, but the Capri is no longer my absolute favourite. Aston Martin has the largest part of my car loving heart.
One of the reasons I keep on attending AMOC race meetings is because of the DB4 Lightweight. I cannot express how much I love that car. For a long, long time the DB4 (series 1, I should add) was my favourite Aston Martin and this particular one is just that bit more beautiful.


A firm favourite: the DB4 Lightweight.
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Apart from all the wonderful cars, Aston Martins or otherwise, the races themselves are great fun to watch. I have said this before: it does not matter what level people are racing on, they take their racing seriously. It just makes it great for the spectators as well.
You can see a car lock under braking and the next time they come through the same corner they almost lose the car, just as if they did not already have a moment the lap before. These cars are all being pushed as hard as their drivers can push them.

There’s one more car I want to mention. I am not a big fan of the V8 Astons. Don’t dislike them, but their looks are just not my favourite. And then this one appeared:


The 1972 Aston Martin AMV8 driven by Simon Watts and Roberto Giordanelli.
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Now, is that car not absolutely stunning? I had never seen one of these as a race car before and I think it carries the racing look very well!

And this is another reason AMOC race meetings are the thing for me. In short: AMOC members bring their cars, the racing is amazing and some of the race cars are stunning. What more could you possibly want?

AMOC Spring Concours 2017

In 2016 Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. told the world that they would open a new site which would become the factory for the DBX. The location was an old MOD site at St Athan, Wales.
In early 2017 the site is still mostly empty so the Aston Martin Owners Club took the opportunity to host their Spring Concours there. Let’s see: AMOC (very good at hosting ‘parties’), AML (very good at being at the right place at the right time) and AMHT (very good at displaying the best of Aston’s history) together at one location. Yes, that’s a must see.
So off to Wales we went.

AMOC hosts a Concours twice a year, once in spring and once in autumn. If, like me, you don’t know what that is: the club’s members bring their cars and these cars are judged. In short: there’s prizes up for grabs in several categories. One thing is for certain, you can expect the best examples to be there.
In this case reportedly around 700 Aston Martins were present. Considering several halls were in use, each of them huge, I believe that number to be accurate.


One of the halls was only beginning to fill up when this photo was taken. The entire hall is twice this big.
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The Aston Martin Heritage Trust was also there with, among others, a DBS display to celebrate this model has now been around for 50 years.
As if that wasn’t enough, there were several very special cars to be seen. There was the unveiling of the Red Arrows Edition Aston Martin Vanquish S, while previous special editions were on display nearby.


Red Arrows Edition Aston Martin Vanquish S
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I was very happy to see the Valkyrie. Even though I had already seen her in Geneva, I thought it was very good that people who may not have had the opportunity (or the wish!) to go to Geneva now had a chance to see her to. She got a lot of attention, which is not surprising. This car is something else.

My personal highlight was definitely the CC100. This car was created for the company’s centenary celebrations. Only two were made, so chances are very slim indeed to ever see this one anywhere other than in a magazine. But there it was.
An added bonus is that one of the designers involved in that project was at the Concours. It is a very welcome extra being able to talk to him for a while and get his perspective on the project and the car.


Aston Martin CC100
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And the list doesn’t end there: DBR1, Lola Aston Martin, One-77 and the Vulcan. All present and set up in such a way that everyone had a chance to have a good look. There were several Lagondas and I even spotted two Cygnets.
There was so much to see that after 4.5 hours I had to give up. Not only did I have quite a drive back home, but the sheer number of cars was a bit overwhelming. However, that drive (several hours) was very much worth it.

Just think: that very same evening they probably had to clear everything out, because the next day construction on the factory started. The Concours will very likely never be held here again.
It was an epic and unique event.

AMOC Racing, Silverstone, 1 October 2016

A few years ago, when I was still a member of AMOC (Aston Martin Owners Club), I was aware they organised races. Because I didn’t have a car, I never got to attend any of these race meetings. This year I’ve been to four of them. The last one of this year was at Silverstone and it was quite something.

In 2016 Silverstone has been ‘behaving’. I’ve been several times and we’ve seen snow, rain, wind, sun (too much of it) and more rain. On 1 October it was predominantly rain. It made the racing all the more exciting to watch. I can only imagine what that must be like from a driver’s perspective when you’re trying to keep your classic race car on the track.
Despite the weather the entire day was very enjoyable.


Tom Black’s Aston Martin GT4 during the Aston Martin GT Challenge.
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As was to be expected, it was not very busy. Only one grandstand was open (BRDC Grandstand) and it was not 100% filled. It is however a wonderful place to view a race from due to how much of the track you can see. Luffield corner is a spot where a lot happens normally anyway and this day was no exception.
Several classics did drift off the track, but thankfully most managed to save the car before it went into the gravel and rejoin the race. Often this resulted in applause from the grandstand.

The variety of cars on track is astounding. Of course there are Aston Martins, but this time there were a lot of MGs. The Intermarque Championship/GT Challenge saw the return of the Porsches and BMWs. The 50s Sports Cars race had several absolutely gorgeous Austins and Jaguars. For me the icing on the cake were the pre-war Astons: an Aston Martin Le Mans (1933), Aston Martin 15/98 2 seater (1937), Aston Martin New International (1932) and Aston Martin Ulster (1934). In that race there was one more pre-war car: a Bentley MK VI of 1948 which was unbelievably fast. The sound was a delight…I think I know where the current Bentley team gets their slogan (Bring The Thunder) from.


The Bentley MK VI (1948) driven by Michael Haig took victory in t he Pre-War race. We’d seen this car in the paddock, but on track it is a magnificent beast.
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During the lunch break some of the AMOC members took their Aston Martins to the track for a parade. I was lucky enough to be able (and allowed!) to go to the pit wall and watch them go by (camera in hand, of course).
Some of the boxes were open, so I wandered in here and there to snap a few photos of the cars. It was an amazing opportunity to see some of these classics up close.


The participants in the MG Acers/pre-War race are waiting in the rain for their race to start.
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It was once again a fun filled day with beautiful cars and a very relaxed atmosphere.
I have enjoyed the four race meetings I’ve been to so much I intend to go to as many as I can next year. So keep your eyes peeled for more beautiful Aston Martins of various ages in 2017.

AMOC Racing, Brands Hatch, 13 August 2016

Despite its modest size, Brands Hatch is an iconic track. It has been home to racing since 1926 (pre-tarmac). Its history includes being host to F1 from 1964 and 1986. On this Saturday (13 August 2016) it was home to AMOC Racing. It was the fifth meeting of 2016 and the third I attended. It’s a combination I simply cannot resist: a lovely venue, several cars of my favourite marque and a great club. And this time there was a bonus…

As before there were several other marques on track throughout the day, providing a wonderful diverse display of cars of various times. I can only assume there are more than just Astons on track because there are simply not enough of them to fill the entire programme (if anyone knows otherwise, please let me know). Any chance to race given to anyone I would consider a good thing. It might just introduce AMOC Racing to fans of other marques and non-Aston Martins to Aston Martin fans. After all, we share a passion for cars and racing.


The BMW M3 GT4 of Jeremy Cooke and Mike Dowd during the Aston Martin GT Challenge.
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The weather couldn’t quite make its mind up (then sunny, then overcast, but thankfully always dry!), but that didn’t deter the masses. Maybe it is because this is not the biggest of venues, but it felt a bit busy. Because I was there by invitation I saw a little bit less of the track action than normal. You know: places to go, people to see.

What I did see was, once again, close and passionate racing. It is always great to see cars go nose to tail through the corners; or even side by side! When you hear the commentators calculate, lap by lap, how close cars are, you know a pit stop can and will make the difference between winning or coming in second. Edge of your seat stuff!


Robin Marriott’s Aston Martin GT4 (with tape and all!) during the Aston Martin GT Challenge.
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During lunch there was a track parade. That’s where my bonus comes in.
I was a passenger in a beautiful dark green DB7. And it was awesome. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be on the track in a gorgeous and luxurious car between a large number (an estimated 70) of cars of similar description. To see the stunning DB9, Vanquish S and DBS in front and know there are DB4s behind you, to name but a few. To hear the V8 nearby when everyone speeds down the pit straight. That feeling when the car accelerates and you get pushed in your seat and then the slight movement forward under braking, the car’s nose going down. And this isn’t racing, this is just a bit of fun.
I guess a love for cars is required to understand the grin and goosebumps this causes.


Nicholas King’s Aston Martin DB4
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What more can I say? I’ve just spent a day among Aston Martin enthusiasts, some of whom race during a fun filled day. I think it’s safe to say, after spending three days with them, that AMOC Racing throw a good party.
Bring on Silverstone!

The next and last AMOC Racing meeting of 2016 will be on 1 October at Silverstone.

Aston Martin GT Challenge (and more), Silverstone

A few weeks ago I saw beautiful cars race around the Oulton Park circuit for the AMOC Intermarque and the Aston Martin GT Challenge. It was good.
Little did I know that Silverstone would be even better.
I should have guessed, of course. I would imagine that everyone who races anything would love to do so at Silverstone.
From a spectator’s point of view that is nothing short of fantastic, because you get to see so many wonderful cars, old and new. The British GT weekend at Silverstone saw four races organised by AMOC: AMOC Intermarque, Aston Martin GT Challenge, Innes Ireland Cup and AMOC 50s Sports Cars.


A beautiful 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint which took part in the Innes Ireland Cup.
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The weather on Saturday was glorious (not so on the Sunday!), so nothing stood in the way of our enjoyment of seeing classic cars going around the iconic track at a speed you sometimes wouldn’t expect these cars to be able to go.
To be honest, the spectacle was so good I didn’t actually pay any attention to who was winning. Even though the winner of AMOC 50s Sports Cars race was very easily identified. The #4 Ginetta G4 finished with a gap of 2 minutes and 40 seconds ahead of the rest of the field! As the commentator said: “That is the gap, not a lap time”.


Always one of my favourties: the Aston Martin DB4 (1959).
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Of course the Intermarque and GT Challenge saw more modern cars race each other. There were Porsches, Ferraris and Aston Martins, the latter old and new.
The Aston Martin DB4 was for a very long time my favourite Aston Martin (damn you, DB11!). The lone DB4 Lightweight I saw at Oulton Park was now joined by two more and a (dare I say ‘regular’?) DB4 (see photo above). However, I would certainly not say no to a GT4 or N24. That sound!


A 1957 Jaguar XK150 – a style I very much like.
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Needless to say, due to the diversity on track throughout the day and the sheer number of beauties AMOC had managed to get together, I ended up staying at the track all day. I know quite a lot of people only attend the Sunday (race day) during any race weekend. I hope they come to realise what they are missing.
I will definitely try to attend more AMOC race events, because they are simply too good to miss.