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, 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.

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.

Aston Martin GT Challenge, Oulton Park

My fascination for anything Aston Martin is by now well documented. Not so well documented is the fact I have been a member of AMOC (Aston Martin Owners Club) for a few years. You don’t have to own an Aston Martin to join the club and the members are extremely welcoming to anyone. All you need is the passion and I have it in abundance.
AMOC also organises races. The only AMOC race I had been to was in June 2008 during the weekend long celebrations of DB4’s 50th anniversary.
Seeing another AMOC race was therefore long overdue.

The start of the Aston Martin GT Challenge/Intermarque race.
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Due to the large number of Aston Martins on the British GT grid this year (nine!) I had already decided to go to a few races of that series. Having AMOC provide one of the support races a few times was a bonus I couldn’t resist.
Oulton Park is a track I am already familiar with and I like it a lot.
This weekend is a little bit strange, because the action is on Saturday and Monday, which leaves me today (the Sunday) to process the events of yesterday.

As always the day started with a stroll through the paddock. Very soon I had found the Aston Martins which would take part in the Aston Martin GT Challenge. This is an intermarque race, so out of 18 cars only 5 are Astons. It has to be said that this race is in fact two races: a GT Challenge and an Intermarque Championship.
The Intermarque Championship has been running since the early 1970s, so it is by now quite well established.

A favourite of mine when growing up: the Triumph TR7 V8.
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I have watched both qualifying and the race and thoroughly enjoyed the on track action. There were some close battles which almost make your heart stop; especially when it involves a classic car.
One of my all time favourite Aston Martins is the DB4. This race saw a beautiful Aston Martin DB4 Lightweight (1959) take on much newer cars and sometimes it was a little too close for comfort. Thankfully it came out unharmed.

The 1959 Aston Martin DB4 LightWeight driven by Martin Melling.
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In a few weeks time this circus moves to Silverstone. I have tickets for that weekend as well. I reckon that will be yet another very enjoyable race to watch!