by Jeremy Walton
An attractive and uniquely rewarding experience awaits those who venture west for events with a variety of automotive themes.
Forget the big time events like elitist Goodwood, or the slick and vast spectacle that are Silverstone Classic. And you can also say goodbye to steeper entry and refreshment fees, most of the events described here were visited for £5 to £10.
The exceptions are Castle Combe’s picturesque circuit racing charmers. Race meetings packed with classics from bellowing V12 Jaguars to flatulent 4-cylinder British sports cars. Top that up with contemporary hatchback chargers, fighting for track space over generous 40 minute encounters, and the entertaining Combe track’s £10-£15 customer charges for such automotive variety tickets are good value.
The West’s biggest national race weekends for 2 and 4-wheels are at Thruxton, which remains imposingly fast and unaltered since it re-opened to cars in the later 1960s.
We’ve seen many thrilling events there since the days when future and current World champions like Jackie Stewart, Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill came to do battle at the Easter Formula 2 weekends. Yet any member of the public can experience the 100 mph swoops of this sweeping former airfield at the wheel of an exotic car from Porsche to Lamborghini and Ferrari.
Of course you have to pay, in our case around £200 to drive Lotus Exige, a single seater [severely speed restricted to 4500 rpm] and a reconnaissance laps in a Mazda. It was another £35 to take home a DVD permanent memory of our laps in the Lotus, professionally framed from an in-car camera.
Then there are the local and country shows where you can view anything from stream engines little and large to wartime and commercial vehicles, motorbikes, tractors and the inevitable classic cars.
Our recent family favourite is the Stockton Vintage Nostalgia event on the A36 outside Salisbury, perhaps because it is sponsored by Ringwoods brewery! More seriously, Stockton also features jazz and rock music, retro clothes and a good turnout of automotive exhibits that you don’t see so much of at other events.
American vehicles were strongly represented in 2013, from shimmering Airflow caravans in hand-beaten aluminium, to one of Ford’s biggest commercial failures—and Edsel as an estate, no less. Plus some shimmering cool customs with more under-bonnet chrome than a jukebox.
There are many more idiosyncratic western events, which might grace this site if the Webmaster has an acre of space to fill. Otherwise, we hope our photo gallery is worth the proverbial 1000 words to tempt you out for some ‘must see that’ sights.