After a gripping qualifying session in the rain yesterday the sun is shining at Silverstone for the 50th British Grand Prix held at this famous old Northamptonshire circuit. To celebrate that anniversary some of the stars from the past were out demonstrating some lovely old cars.

Below, Damon Hill driving his father Graham’s Lotus 49.

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Below, Adrian Newey driving the UTP March followed by Emerson Fittipaldi in his McLaren M23. Behind him is the McLaren of James Hunt.

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Last week I and some other RAC members had the rare privilege of having dinner with two time Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Although now in his 60s he looked incredibly fit although he has long since lost his former trademark muttonchops. It proved to be a great evening as Emerson turned out to be a thoroughly charming and patient man. Down-to-earth, he took time to answer all our questions even though he had probably heard them all many many times before. He entertained us with incredible stories about his career, both in Formula One and in IndyCar. It’s astonishing to think that he started racing in the same year that Jack Brabham retired and only finished racing in 1997 when he was well into his late 40s. Over a varied career he not only won the world championship twice but also the Indianapolis 500, also twice. He also won the British Grand Prix twice and will be driving his Silverstone winning McLaren M23 tomorrow before the British Grand Prix.

What was particular striking about Emerson was that he clearly has a real interest in the history of motor racing. For the dinner the Club could not, unfortunately, decorate the table with the British Grand Prix trophy as it had already been sent to Silverstone. Instead the beautiful Tourist Trophy took pride of place. Emerson took a real interest in the trophy, looking carefully at the names of the illustrious drivers who had won it in the past. I think he regretted the fact that his name was not on it! However he explained he never really took to sportscar racing and never did Le Mans as a close friend of his father whom he had looked up to as a child was killed there in the fifties.

Of course, like many other British men my age, the thing I particulary remember about Emerson Fittipaldi is the Corgi toy Lotus 72 JPS. I think every boy at school had one at the time of Emerson’s first world championship in 1972. I took my own along to the dinner and Emerson very kindly agreed to sign the box. It will be treasured even more now!

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Emerson Fittipaldi with the Tourist Trophy

Some interesting new iron (aluminium, carbon fibre …) at the FoS this year. Highlights below.

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The new Ford Mustang – finally available in right hand drive. Aggressive retro styling looks good – shame about the awful colour

 

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More “motor show” colours on the McLaren stand. Am I the only one who prefers the simple look of the MP4-12c nose to that on the new 650S nose? Must be as apparently there was so little continuing demand for the old car once the 650S was launched that they have now stopped making it.

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The Jaguar F Type Project 7 is an important car for Jaguar. Based on the slightly more extreme concept shown at last year’s FoS , the Project 7 is actually a production car – indeed the fastest production Jaguar ever. Its V8 is tuned up to 575 bhp – 25 more than the R Coupe. It also has bespoke aero, and trick suspension and diff with standard carbon ceramic brakes. The screen has a greater rake than the standard convertible and it has an D Type imitating faring behind the drivers role hoop. Inside it looks fairly standard and weather protection consists of a rather impractical clip on hood like the recent Boxster speedster. Its a striking car and they hope to sell 250, and only 60 in right hand drive. But what’s it for? Too comfortable and therefore heavy for a racer (and the rollover protection looks too scant) yet too uncomfortable for every day use. Is it therefore just for collectors and occasional track days?

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This stunning Jaguar SUV concept is far more likely to make JLR lots of money. Aimed at rivalling the Audi Q4, BMW X3 and especially the Porsche Macan it should perform well and in a different segment to current Land Rover products. I would certainly buy one. The bad news is that we are unlikely to see one for sale until 2018, with a hot version not to follow until 2019.

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VW ran their diminutive XL electric car up the hill. It looks like the future for urban transport but is very very small and very very expensive.

 

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The new Renault Twingo Sport looks like great fun. Based on the same platform as the new Smart 4-2 it has a rear mounted 1L turbocharged engine. Hot versions later this year should have 140 bhp making the car a mini 911!

There is always a fine selection of Le Mans sports cars at Goodwood ranging from those from the earliest days of racing to the very latest winning machines.

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Andy Wallace is reunited with his 1988 Le mans winning Jaguar XJR – 9

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This year’s Le man winning Audi e-Tron. Havings stumbled in the early rounds of this year’s World Sports Car championship they managed to win the race that really mattered. Sound familiar Peugeot?

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1970 Ferrari 512, just like in the film Le Mans..

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Mercedes high speed transporter carrying the fabulous Uhlenhaut Coupe (see previous posts from Stuttgart)

 

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This year’s Le Mans Toyota hybrid

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Gorgeous Jaguar D Type Le Mans winners – 55, 56, 57. This Ecurie Ecosse car won in 1957 and provided the design inspiration for the Project 7 Jaguar

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Vast V12 Sunbeam racer from 1920 and even bigger 1911 Fiat

Due to restrictions on testing (!) there were no contemporary Formula One cars tackling the hill at Goodwood this year. That did not stop some of the teams bringing cars for static display or bringing cars from previous seasons for their drivers and test drivers to run up the hill. Even then runs were restricted to demonstration performances with plenty of doughnuts and burnouts and very little speed. We had to look to the historic guys for real pace.

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Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-26 he drove in 2012.

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Max Smith Hilliard in his 1972 Surtees TS9B. Seconds later he stuffed it into the bales at Molecombe corner. He was unhurt and at least he was trying!

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Legendary Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi driving the McLaren M23 with which he won McLaren’s first world title in 1974.

One of the best things about the Festival of speed is the close access to the drivers available for fans.

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British GP winner Johhny Herbert sharing a laugh at the Williams pit

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John Surtees was celebrating the 50th anniversary of his world championship with a class of cars and bikes associated with his career in action on the hill all weekend.

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An immaculately turned out Paddy Hopkirk reunited with his Monte winning Mini Cooper

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Twelve time World Motor Bike Trials champion Dougie Lampkin in action

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Felipe Massa reflecting on his good fortune to no longer be at Ferrari

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I had a good chat with Andy Wallace about Le Mans in 1988. The XJR made 250 mph down the pre chicane Mulsanne Straight. At night he could see so little as the lights were mounted so low that he had to pick out his braking points by calculating distances from land marks as they flashed by. To this day the XJR is the fastest car to have driven at Le mans. Andy has no desire to ever drive that fast again – he said it was something you could only do when young, fearless and lacking in imagination.