Once every year a small piece of the Netherlands temporarily becomes British territory. An enclave, surrounded by the invaded country. Already on the access road it is clearly defined, from this point on the language is English and distances are measured in Yards and Miles. You can hear, see and feel the atmosphere changing. We are of course talking about the British Race Festival in Zandvoort here. Martin Philippo reports.
It is still early when we walk through the access tunnel and enter the track area. We don’t want to miss anything of the first race of the British Mini 7 Club. A field full of souped-up Mini’s, with roaring engines and whooping gearboxes. Close-racing as it should be. We are absolutely not disappointed, it’s really a sensational show. The track is fairly wet in places and this causes the odd skidding which gives loads of fun for the spectator, especially in the Hans Ernst corner. A few drivers find their way into the gravel, fortunately without any damage to man or machine.
We get in to a chat with an English lady of a group present with Morgan three-wheelers. She tells us the orange Morgan isn’t her daily driver, it’s just for racing. At home she usually uses the pre-war Frazer-Nash, which is also present in the paddock. There is a small problem though, the clutch isn’t working properly, a piece fell of during their return trip from Italy. Later on a part of the trailer will be machined to get that clutch fully operational again. In the mean time I get the full explanation of how a Nash clutch works, as at Nash, they had their own ideas of how the mechanics of a clutch should work.
During the race I see the passengers leaning out in the corners and duck into the bodywork on the straights. There is a very strong resemblance with motorcycles with sidecar. Which isn’t even such a strange idea, after all a Morgan is classified as such in some classes, so a passenger is required. The sound of the V-twins is phenomenal, especially coming from that 1922 Morgan Aero, that once raced at Brooklands. One of the members of the group isn’t very lucky, on the exit of the Hans Hugenholz corner he hits the verge with his front wheel, spins and damages the front suspension of his Nash. It is all accepted with British pragmatism.
The festival isn’t purely British. The Dutch Vintage Sports Car Club organises, in cooperation with Circuit Park Zandvoort, a Vintage Revival, with around sixty pre-war sports cars and racers. For these ladies and gentlemen it isn’t just a nice day out on the track. During the day they take paying passengers for a spin round the track, raising money for Fight Cancer. The roaring of these pre-war racers is a joy for the ears. The guileless spectator would expect some kind of spluttering coming from these oldies, but they couldn’t be more wrong. These things go up in their revs with ease, something that is very obvious with that photogenic looking owner of a black Bugatti. It is clear he enjoys this to the max and gives his car a thorough booting. Nice details are the white race-overalls worn by the drivers, something which reminds involuntarily of Goodwood. The organisation of the whole thing is superb.
Towards the end we walk past the Morgan People to wish them loads of fun and a safe journey home. There are people working on the Frazer-Nash clutch. The lady herself has her tool kit out on the Morgan to fix the handbrake. Old cars are just like small children, they keep you busy and although enough reason to grumble, you wouldn’t want to miss them for the world.
Text and pictures: Martin Philippo