If I told you vintage cars were like drifters, you’d be forgiven for laughing in my face. As it turns out, the only way to race a pre-war is by going for the slip. Tom Waterfield is a member of the VSCC and the custodian of ‘Dragonfly’ - a yellow GN. I’ll let him explain:
“That thing’s got a solid rear axle; so to go round a corner one wheel has to be slipping, which means most of the time you end up with both wheels slipping - you’re just going sideways round all corners. It makes for some quite fun driving. So it’s sort of a bit like a drift car. That’s what all GNs and Nashes are like.”
The VSCC are your true hard-knuckled enthusiasts; the folks that despite the fog, are here at Silverstone on this cold February morning pushing their machines to the limit. “[Even though] it’s all from the age when the car was the thing that replaced the horse - you get all the fun of actually going out on the track, you get all the adrenaline and it’s still a bloody quick car. There’s such a friendly atmosphere - it’s a laugh.”
I asked Tom how he got into vintage racing. “Well it all started with my Grandpa - he raced and then my mum raced, so we were sort of brought up in a family where everyone raced vintage cars.”
Pushing ‘Dragonfly’ back into a garage, it quickly drew a crowd. Its greasy yellow paint and low body gives it an aggressive sporting stance you can’t ignore. “It does require a lot of maintenance; you get to know what needs to be checked and what's wrong with it, you learn the noises that it makes.”
Vintage motoring seems to offer the next level of engineering intimacy from a time when cars had to be listened to, where modern input-process-output is simply clinical in comparison.
Strolling around, you realise that Silverstone is a big place - it’s able to swallow up the entire F1 circus, so seeing it transformed into such a casual meeting place seemed to tame it. Those garages with their polished floors were filled with a heady mix of classic favourites, exotic pre-wars and some favourite 80s icons as race-prep companies worked tirelessly. There was even a gaggle of Volvo wagons, and a Pug all stickered up and ready to go.
We’ve decided the most rewarding thing about a morning with the VSCC at Silverstone is just seeing these old sports cars actually getting used by the people that love them. In fact, not just used, raced - it was hard not to dream of joining in. “I try and use it as much as possible as I’ve only been lent the car. It’s a case of getting the worth out of it.”
For any car lover not sold on ‘vintage’ as being fun, prescribe yourself a heavy dose of VSCC club racing. Stand along the pit straight and besides nursing your chilly extremities, you’ll probably have a massive grin on your face. Why? Because Vintage cars aren’t just reserved for those doddery country lanes. They are scary, fire-spitting, popping, and farting race machines. These things take some real driving.
What are your thoughts on vintage?