Free after the long running British TV-series, Robbert Moree presents us his vision on the British Race Festival at Circuit Zandvoort. Minus the obligatory murders, thank God.
The British Race Festival at Zandvoort has over the years become a genuine tradition and if there is one thing that is genuinely British, it’s tradition. Brits love their traditions and many of them would just love for the heyday of the old days to live on for eternity. Clerical and industrial revolutions, like the Germans, the French and the Italians, Britannia managed to rule for centuries. Likewise the Brits pioneered in the development and amelioration of this up and coming industry. Too bad those same Brits held on far to long to those same traditions in the 60’s and 70’s of last century. As much in design and engineering as in their industries labour relations. A combination that resulted in the demise of what once was a great car building nation. Morgan might well be the last, be it extremely conservative, surviving British car manufacturer. Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls Royce and Bentley have all been scooped up by foreign hands and became some kind of tribute to the past, obligatory references to leather and shiny wood interiors and all. The rest of all these illustrious British car manufactures have become memories of a long gone era that is painstakingly kept alive.
This summer weekend we are here to witness the British monoposto’s race like in the old days, to hear highly tuned classic Mini’s roar around the track and to behold the full glory of the classic touring car class. Thanks to the Dutch Vintage Sports Car Club there are plenty of pre-war vehicles here too, mainly British, of course. CineCars Diva Han Brouwers brought his Talbot 105 and coach builder Bas Janssen his Austin Seven Special. Marc and Jeroen Alberda Jelgersma brought two vehicles. Jeroen an Austin Seven Special and Marc a Bugatti he urges around the track accompanied by their dad. Rob Janzen is driving the 1931 Austin Ulster owned by Velja Mijatovic, a car that participated as a factory entrance in the 1000 Miglia that same year. I’m allowed a session alongside Rob in the Austin Ulster, which is a completely new experience for me. An 87 year old car like this is something else. Completely. This machine was built in a time when men were obviously a lot smaller, thus we are pressed closely together. There is this heat shield mounted on the exhaust just where it passes the co-drivers elbow, it’s clearly there for a reason. Racing on such narrow tires requires feeling for the reaction of chassis, spoke wheels and those same tires, just to make sure we make it through the corners as well as to keep a straight line in heavy side winds at 80 miles per hour. My respect for the drivers of such vintage car most certainly gained some weight. This is from an era where driving a car was still tangibly dangerous, seriously dangerous.
Every year the British Race Festival allows us to travel back in time, starting at the very entrance of Circuit Zandvoort, which temporarily acts as British territory. A bit like the fictitious county of Midsomer from the aforementioned TV-series. With negotiations on Brexit revving on full throttle this all feels kinda special. What will happen when the United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU? Luckily that is a completely different, albeit very British, discussion. For now the British Race Festival is a true tradition, so we’ll be back next year.