For petrolheads, the last weekend of August is a date for your diaries. Over the last three decades, The Classic at Silverstone has grown into a very successful weekend of pure motoring fun, with all the ingredients for the perfect family weekend break, from on-track racing to off-track entertainment. In 2021, Motul officially partnered up with The Classic. To find out more about what’s in store for 2022, we caught up with The Classic’s marketing manager Michelle Sweetman.
Michelle, why should people visit The Classic at Silverstone this year?
We’re embracing ‘the best of British’ theme in celebration of it being our Queen’s Jubilee year. As part of this, we’re celebrating British motorsport heritage, which is widely known for a variety of brands, teams, and countless motorsport successes. Several historic British racing brands have already confirmed their presence, and the event will be supported by some high-profile live bands, great food and a whole weekend of racing featuring the world’s finest vintage and historic racecars. We’re really looking forward to this year’s edition.
For those among us unacquainted with the event, which racecars are allowed to race during the weekend and what does the racing schedule look like?
Our race lineup covers the spectrum of 100 years of motorsport. The range of racing on offer is from basic pre-war race cars through to much more recent and sophisticated endurance race cars and all the eras and classes from Formula One, sports cars, GT cars and touring cars. On Friday we have the qualification day, and on Saturday and Sunday we have genuine period-correct races. And these are not demonstration races, the drivers really go all-in, bringing back racing as it was executed in the period the cars were built. It’s close wheel-to-wheel racing. As Monday will be a bank holiday, the racing and entertainment will go on later into the Sunday evening. We try to make it a real family event where everybody can have a lot of fun while enjoying the races.
What differentiates The Classic from other historic events?
We go for an inclusive approach. This means we have an open paddock, giving the visitors the possibility to live up to the race experience and talk with the racers and mechanics. We also have historics racing from every period. More than you will see anywhere else in one weekend. There really is something for everyone with the track programme complemented by off-track activities for the whole family to enjoy. This year we’re also welcoming F1’s best-ever sounding engines: the high-revving V8, V10 and V12 powertrains introduced at the end of the 1980s that superseded their turbocharged predecessors, and which are widely hailed as the most dramatic and exciting engines in the sport’s long and glorious history. Up to 20 F1 icons (dating from 1989 through to 1997) will be reviving their magic with incredible daily displays on the track where they raced so memorably in period. Also new is our date: we moved the event to the last weekend of August, to end the summer in a very memorable way.
What has been the evolution of the event over the years?
On the track we see the evolution as time goes by. The cars racing in our most modern grids weren’t even built when the event first took place in 1990. Interest in classics has grown in that time and the total number of event visitors has grown too as we’ve developed the family-friendly aspects of it. The Classic now surpasses 100,000 visitors over the weekend. What hasn’t changed, though, is the fact we have flat-out championship racing. The drivers are really competing to win. The Classic is not about exhibition racing, it’s the real deal. After the challenges of the last few years, we’re excited to have things back on track.
How do you explain the growing popularity of the classic car market and your event?
People hunger for events that allow you to be nostalgic. It’s like time travelling to the 1970s, ‘80s, or ‘90s. And the sounds and smells of racecars from the past is incomparable.
The Classic and Motul partnered up officially last year. What’s the benefit for your organisation and the drivers?
Motul has a racing pedigree that goes beyond pre-war. It also offers specific classic oils and tops its benefits off with a full car care product range. Motul’s brand values, brand image and love for motorsports are simply a perfect match for our event. And not only our event benefits from Motul’s grassroots. The partnership also benefits the drivers and visitors who are all car lovers. Motul’s technical specialists will be in place during the event to support the racers, and we are currently investigating the possibility to have an oil analysis lab in place. The partnership works both ways, there will be over 100 car clubs and communities present, which is the perfect audience for Motul’s classic oil range.