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, 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.