Silverstone will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the legendary Group C sportscar era at its Bank Holiday Classic, August 26-28.
The Six Hours of Silverstone on May 16, 1982, was the opening round of the 1982 World Endurance Championship—the first race for the much-anticipated new Group C prototypes and the dawn of a new generation of sports racing cars which quickly rivalled Formula 1 for popularity among fans and manufacturers.
Such was its immense global popularity that seminal Group C remains one of the most revered motor sport series of all times.
This year, 40 years on, The Classic will salute the significance of Group C’s birth with a special display of iconic Group C cars topped by evocative track demos on both Saturday and Sunday.
That 1982 curtain-raiser was won by the car and driver pairing that would become Group C deities: a blue and white Rothmans-liveried Porsche 956 shared by Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell. The Porsche debutant actually finished second on the road behind the Lancia LC1 of Riccardo Patrese and Michele Alboreto (which was running to less restrictive Group 6 regulations) but crucially took Group C honors on its debut.
Backing-up this milestone success at Silverstone, just five weeks later the same Ickx-Bell-Porsche trinity won the most famous endurance race of them all: the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Despite increasing competition from numerous rival global manufacturers all keen to jump aboard the burgeoning bandwagon, Porsche dominated Group C in the early day, but slowly its stranglehold was loosened. Jaguar, Mercedes, Mazda and Peugeot all became Le Mans winners in the Group C era while other global automotive giants including Ford, Lancia, Nissan and Toyota all enjoyed their own lesser successes before ever-rising costs spelt the end for Group C and resulted in the introduction of new technical regulations in the mid-1990s.
“In most of our lifetimes, Group C was the zenith of sportscar racing, and so we are thrilled to be celebrating its 40th anniversary with special on and off track displays at The Classic,” commented Nick Wigley, CEO of The Classic promoter Goose Live Events. “Silverstone was where the first-ever Group C race was held so, once again, it’s the perfect place to be marking such an important milestone in motorsport history.”
The special celebration at The Classic is being curated with the enthusiastic support of Group C arch enthusiast, collector and racer Henry Pearman who has pledged his full support.
“Having helped to put together the display to mark the 25th anniversary at The Classic in 2007, I am thrilled to take on the same role this year,” confirmed Pearman. “We’ll be bringing a selection of great cars for the demonstration runs, including a works Rothmans 962, ex-John Fitzpatrick 956, plus the distinctive Richard Lloyd RLR 962, which has a strong connection with Silverstone as the much-loved British team was based at the circuit.
“With other Group C cars joining us, too, this should be a superb Ruby birthday celebration to remember.”
The fun-fuelled three-day Northamptonshire extravaganza will feature not only four great races for historic Grand Prix cars but also awesome track demos of Formula 1 cars from the high-revving V8, V10 and V12 era of late ‘80s and ‘90s as well as two very special showcases, including a world exclusive: all seven of Lewis Hamilton’s title winning F1 cars displayed together for the very first time.
For tickets and/or additional information on The Classic 2022 at Silverstone, click HERE.