Report and photos by Peter Falkner
The F1 Historic and Spa Six Hours 2011 took place on September 23-25th at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the heart of the Ardennes forest, Belgium.
This is the final 2011 competition of the Masters Historic Racing series, the teams having done battle since March on circuits in England, Germany, Spain and Portugal. The twelve different class races were a mix of 30 minute sprints, 60 minute mini-endurance races, pit stops and driver changes included and the headline Spa Six Hours endurance race. All classes raced on period appropriate rubber while they recreated the legendary struggles between names like Lotus, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Chevron, Lola and Jaguar. Add to that the first-time appearance of the thundering 8-liter V8 Can-Am cars in the Trans-Atlantic Prototype Challenge class and it looked to be a heart-and-ear pounding weekend of racing.
The crisp autumn air of early morning clarified the crackle and pop of cold racing engines as they were brought to life for a memorable three days of historic car racing. This event attracted over 600 historic racing cars and 1000 drivers to a circuit many consider one of the most challenging, beautiful and rewarding in the world.
Spa Six Hours Endurance Race Report
Pit crews flood the pit lane with tires, jacks, pit boards, lights and spare anything that might need replacing during the next six hours. Over 100 cars ranging from 1800cc MG Bs to 6.5 liter Corvettes and the mighty 4.7 liter GT40s braced themselves for the six hour ordeal ahead.
At 4pm five GT40s lunge towards La Source and are well on to Eau Rouge before half of the remaining 100 car grid has reached the line. The drivers settled in for their stint and the race took on a certain rhythm of lapping, pitting for fuel, lapping, pitting for driver changes and rubber. The field stretched over the entire 7 kilometer circuit, each class waging battles, the slower cars watching their mirrors for fast approaching GT40s, Jaguar E-Types and Shelby Cobras.
At race midpoint, the GT40 of Glaesel/Kelleners looked rock solid, having taken the lead on lap 55. Another GT40 of Voyazides/Hadfield and the TVR Griffith 400 of Shipman/Hales/Reuben filled out the top three. As the light faded battle scars began to appear, missing headlamps, crunched bodywork and smoking mechanicals punctuated the strain.
Charging towards the end of the fourth hour, drivers began to contemplate the peril ahead. Eau Rouge corner challenges all comers from club racers to Formula 1 stars. That is in full daylight. Soon it would be dark. Rules allow supplemental lighting on the cars but it must be period appropriate, no steerable bi-zenons here. By 8pm the spectacle took on a whole new life with flashing head and brake lights and tales of varying bravery at Eau Rouge told by glowing brake discs.
As the final hour wound down, the punishment has taken its toll on the historic machinery, less than half the field still running. The two GT40s led the pack by almost ten minutes and the end was in sight. Flashing over the line 1st was the #3 GT40 of Glaesel/Kelleners after leading 58 laps during the race. Second, after leading 39 laps went to Voyazides/Hadfield in their GT40, 1:54.83 behind the winners.
Spa Six Hours Endurance Race Results
1. Glaesel C./Kelleners R. Ford GT40
2. Voyazides L./Hadfield S. Ford GT40
3. Scragg C./Coyne D. Jaguar E Type
4. Shipman J./Hales M. TVR Griffith 400
5. Weavers A./Batenburg J-P. Shelby Cobra
Spa Six Hours 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: Peter Falkner]