One of the best classic motorsports events on the European mainland is without doubt the Spa Classic. Organised by the well known Peter Auto Organisation from France the event started originally in 2011 but since then has grown out to one of the most popular classic racing events throughout Europe.
The 2013 event held in the weekend of May 24th until May 26th gathered 9 different fields including legendary Group C cars, protoypes, sportscars and GT’s entered for Classic Endurance Racing as well as a large field of classic Formula 2 single seaters from the seventies. Besides this the organisation managed to bring three unique fields to the Ardennes featuring the Trofeo Nastro Rossa, Spa Classic Jubilee and Spa Classic Endurance T1 & T2.
The Spa-Francorchamps was originally designed in 1920 by Jules de Their and Henri Langlois Van Ophem, using public roads between the Belgian towns of Spa, Malmedy and Stavelot. Spa is located in the Belgian Ardennes, a region of extensive forests formed by the geophysical features of the Ardennes mountain range and the Moselle and Meuse River basins.
In the original layout the track measured 15 km and counted several dangerous spots like the fast Masta Kink and Burnenville.
Due to several fatal accidents over the years, Spa was in 1978 for the final time in its original form.
In 1979 the track was shortened to 7 km including a movement of the start/finish line. Without the fact that Spa is one of the most challenging the track is also famous for its unpredictable weather.
Over the weekend of May 24th until May 26th drivers and spectators were treated with rather cold to mild temperatures, some snow flakes as well as heavy rain……
The event started on Friday with several practice sessions, followed by the first races on Saturday. As usual the grids for Classic Endurance Racing were packed featuring lots of Porsche 935’s, Ferrari 512 BBLM’s, BMW M1’s and several Chevron and Lola sports cars. Due to a serious gear box problem, the highly appreciated Porsche 917 owned driven by Vincent Gaye didn’t make it to the track.
Fans of Italian build sports cars and GTs could eat their hearts out with the Trofeo Nastro Rossa. An interesting field of amongst others Ferrari 250 GT’s, Bizzarrini 5300GT’s, an Iso A3C as well as a great looking Maserati 300S pleased the crowds.
Another highlight of the weekend was the participation of Group C Racing. The FIA introduced Group C in 1982 for sports car racing and intended to replace both Group 5 Special Production Cars and Group 6 Two Seater Racing Cars.
In Spa the great sounding Sauber-Mercedes C11 of Gareth Evans and Bob Berridge saw action dominating the 60 minute race on Sunday.
Other cars present during the weekend were several Porsche 962’s, the unique Australian Veskanda, a couple of Jaguars etc.
The Historic Formula 2 Trophy brought back some good memories from the seventies. Originally Formula 2 open wheel cars saw life during the early fifties. Between 1961 and 1971 1.6 litre engines were introduced, followed by 2.0 litre engines from the early seventies until the mid eighties. Especially this period turned out to be Formula 2 most succesful era.
Another highlight during the weekend was an actual evening race celebrating the legendary 24 hours race of Spa. Epic touring cars from the seventies such as the Ford Capri and BMW 3.0 CS participated in the event. To honour the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911 the organization managed a special race only open to classic Porsche 911’s.
The fourth edition of the Spa Classic awaits us May 2014.