WORDS BY ADAM DICKINSON | IMAGES BY FULL THROTTLE PHOTOS
A beautiful July weekend featuring F1 machinery revving around the English shires competing for a historic title previously won by the likes of Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Stirling Moss. But Silverstone this was not.
Four weeks after Carlos Sainz became the latest British Grand Prix winner, historic racing enthusiasts descended on Oulton Park for the latest running of the Gold Cup, with Charlie Martin emulating those past greats in his Cooper T53.
That means he joins a roll of honour that includes Clark, Moss, Stewart, Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Denny Hulme and Jacky Ickx, albeit in a lower stakes affair than the event’s heyday.
“The Gold Cup was the biggest race meeting of the season at Oulton Park back in the late 1950s, '60s and into the '70s,” says HSCC Press Officer Paul Lawrence. “It was an international race, a non-championship F1 race for a while but as Oulton Park gradually fell from hosting international race meetings those sort of events fizzled out.
“So when it was decided that Oulton Park deserved a historic festival the Gold Cup title was brought back to life albeit in a new guise.”
Martin took the grand prize in his Cooper T53, but the weekend’s about far more than the just the main event.
18-year-old Samuel Harrison was competing in Historic F2, but still appreciated the buzz of the occasion: “It's the first time I've ever seen so many people watching the historic racing at the track, it was very surreal driving round and the banking were all full of spectators so that was really nice.”
Unlike the majority of drivers he competes against, the teenage Harrison is hoping to use historic racing as a stepping stone to racing GTs.
“I began racing in historic because after go-karts, I’d say it's easier to get into than more modern cars for us anyway and you don't need a huge team to run it.”
He’s following in the footsteps of Michael O’Brien, who races a McLaren 720S in the GT Cup, but cut his teeth competing in historics.
Harrison adds that despite the high competitive standard in the field, off the track things are much more welcoming.
“Everybody was really friendly, I wandered up and down the pit garages and asked a few questions,” he said of his Gold Cup weekend.
“I know from go-karting, we did British and European go-karting and there it's all very secretive really whereas everybody's very open in historics, you can go and talk to everybody and you know pretty much everyone.”
This year the Gold Cup weekend saw a revamped format with the schedule widened to take grids from race organisers like Masters, HRDC and VSCC, additions that made the festival a smash-hit with fans.
With happy spectators already making their plans for next year’s event and drivers like Harrison and O’Brien showing it can be as relevant for boy racers as old-boy racers, this most historic of events looks to have a bright future too.