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Historic Racing: 40 Years of the Group C at The Silverstone Classic

At The Classic next month (26-28 August), Silverstone will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the legendary Group C sportscar era.

In addition to hosting the first Formula One World Championship race, Northamptonshire also had the honor of hosting the very first Group C race.

On Sunday 16 May 1982, the Six Hours of Silverstone opened the 1982 World Endurance Championship, heralding the dawn of a glorious new era of cars that quickly rivaled Formula One in popularity. One of the most revered motor sport series of all time was Group C because of its immense global popularity.

40 years on, The Classic will celebrate the birth of Group C at Silverstone with a special display of iconic Group C cars and evocative track demos.

Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell won Silverstone's curtain-raiser in 1982 with a blue and white Rothmans Porsche 956. On debut, the Porsche 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 still took Group C honours.

Just five weeks later, the same holy trinity won the most famous endurance race of them all: the Le Mans 24 Hours.

In the early days, Porsche dominated Group C despite intense competition from numerous rival global manufacturers.

The Group C era saw Jaguar, Mercedes, Mazda, and Peugeot all become Le Mans winners, while Ford, Lancia, Nissan, and Toyota enjoyed their own lesser successes before ever-rising costs led to the end of Group C.

Classic races for cars of that era have been on the bill at The Classic in years past, but entries have dwindled in recent years, giving this one-off celebration added significance.

“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 an iconic works Rothmans 962, spectacular 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.”

Besides recognizing Silverstone's importance as the launchpad for Group C racing, The Classic will also celebrate the circuit's role in launching Formula One.

In addition to four fantastic races for historic Grand Prix cars, the three-day extravaganza will also feature awesome track demos of Formula 1 cars from the high-revving V8, V10 and V12 era of the late 80s and 90s, as well as two very special showcases. There's a world exclusive display featuring all seven of Lewis Hamilton's title winning Formula 1 cars for the very first time, plus a chance to get up close to a grid of the latest Grand Prix racers.

Providing exceptionally good value, all tickets for The Classic include admission to all of these eye-catching displays plus access to both racing paddocks, open trackside grandstands, a mouth-watering Foodie Fest with celebrity chefs and a pop-up Diddly Squat Farm Shop, live music concerts with chart-toppers on all three evenings and a feast of family entertainment.


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