Following the Nürburgring and Zandvoort, Spa-Francorchamps is the next venue on the historic motorsports calendar. Robbert Moree reports on the Spa Six Hours.
Motorsport is a dangerous sport. A fact painfully underlined at the Historic Grand Prix at Zandvoort. French racing driver David Ferrer crashed his 1970 March 701 during the Masters Historic Formula 1 Grand Prix. Sadly he wouldn’t survive his injuries. A sad event that leaves its marks on the participants and enthousiasts of historic motorsports. Many of the cars here at Spa sport a remembrance sticker carrying the name of David Ferrer. Before the historic F1 races are started, a minute of silence is held to the remembrance of Ferrer and so many others. There isn’t a face untouched by emotions like these. After all, he was one of them. There is only one way they know to really honour their lost companion, ‘Let’s Race!’ And that is what they’ll do with great passion for the rest of the day, although many of their minds will have wandered of to their late mate, David Ferrer.
In the 6 hours endurance race that is the heart of this whole weekend, we experience some serious battle. There are quite some Ford GT40’s competing, that are by far the fastest vehicles under these dry circumstances. Without the legendary thirst of the GT40’s they would win without a doubt, during the 6 hour race however, they need an extra refill compared to most other competitors. Something that clearly makes the race a lot more interesting to watch. Some of the GT40’s have to abandon the race with technical issues, the bodywork of some of the other cars in the race suffers from the heavy battle as well. Many a contestant will need a visit to the bodyshop after this endurance race. Driving in the dark adds another dimension to the race. Drivers put on their headlights or should I say stadium lights? That’s how they try to make the right decisions during many of the close encounters during the race. In the end number 55, the team Ward/Smith takes the victory in a Ford GT40. The first non GT40 finishes in sixth place, an Aston Martin DB4 GT.
Besides the endurance race there are several other races of the Masters’ serie to entertain the crowds. Lot’s of the British cars drive the Woodcote Trophy and the Sir Stirling Moss Trophy. The Historic Formula 1 race represents the Formula cars from the past, as does a race for pre-war monoposto racing cars. And than there are the pre ’66 touring cars. Cars like the Ford Lotus Cortina, Mini Cooper, Ford Mustang and the Alfa Giulia Sprint. These vehicles bring their paddock alive. The passion in here shows how much fun there is to be had on a smaller budget. Like with the professional teams, they keep on servicing and tinkering in between races and deep into the night.
We can’t leave them unmentioned, the girls of champagne house Pommery. In their tight blue outfits they roam from paddock to paddock all day long. They pose in front of the cars, shivering in their minimal outfits that do not offer any protection against the fairly cold weather. Fifteen degrees Celsius isn’t all that much when you’re wearing nothing but a thin layer of lycra. I can see the relief on their faces once they are allowed back inside, but not before they have finished their show, broadly smiling at the photographers. The life of a race car driver, as well as that of a photographer, certainly does have its perks as well.