This year, we attended the Spa Summer Classic for the first time. A summer event at the magical Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
And summer it certainly was with temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius. Not exactly ideal for the mechanics of the participating “old rascals”.
The Spa Summer Classic can somewhat be seen as the little brother of the Spa Six Hours. Both are organised by Roadbook. The Summer Classic focuses more on the smaller amateur teams. And there were certainly more than enough participants. Most of the races had a very large field of participants in which we saw many beautiful cars.
BELCAR HISTORIC CUP
The level of the Belcar Historic has been on the rise for several years. Most recently, there was the addition of “Super Tourer” cars such as the Nissan Primera, Audi A4 Competition and the BMW 320i. The latter won both races in its debut race in Zolder, making it the big favourite for both heats at the Summer Classic. Unfortunately, a broken drive shaft threw a spanner in the works during a final preparatory test.
The damage was so severe that a forfeit was imposed and the Qvick team had to enter another car as a back-up. And with a BMW E30 Touring, this was perhaps the most remarkable car of the series.
Fifty cars took part in qualifying on Friday afternoon. Wim Kuyl, with his Capri, achieved pole ahead of Luc Moortgat’s Porsche and the BMW M3 of Mike Smith and Colin Turkington.
In the first race, there is an exciting duel between Wim Kuyl’s Ford Capri and Luc Moortgat’s Porsche. The Ford is a fraction faster than the Porsche and wins by 2 seconds. Fastres’ BMW M3 gets to join the podium in third place.
On Sunday, the second course was in the late afternoon. The predicted storm for the Liège province had fortunately disappeared but the numerous rain showers did make for a wet track. Best-known competitor is four-time BTCC champion Colin Turkington. He is in Mike Smith’s ex Bigazzi BMW M3 competing in the guest class of the Belcar Historic.
Wet conditions always make for a beautiful and spectacular race. Kuyl’s Capri is no match for Moortgat’s Porsche in the rain. The latter immediately takes the lead and will not relinquish it. Among the chasers, Turkington and Qvick, in their BMWs, make their way to the front. Turkington finishes second behind the LM driver. Fastres, as on Saturday, climbs into the final podium spot just ahead of Qvick’s BMW Touring.
SPA 3 HOURS
On Saturday evening, as it is the case during the Six Hours by the way, there was an evening race for GT and touring cars. Here, slightly younger cars ( up to 1976 ) were allowed to participate, such as the Ford Capri, BMW 2800 CS, Ford Escort and Porsche 911 Carrera. The race duration here is only “only” 3 hours though. But that is certainly enough the summer period.
The win was still for an older one with the 1965 Lotus Elan. Ex BTCC drivers Sam Tordoff and Andrew Jordan had a minute-and-a-half lead over the Jaguar E Type of Sautter and Newall.
BIMMER RACE CAR CHALLENGE
The Bimmer Race Car Challenge is a series in which only BMW cars are allowed. There was a very nice mix with most models of the 3 series ( E30-E36-E46-E90 ), 635 CSi, a 5 series E28 and even two examples of the M1 Procar.
And the distinction between the models is then also quite large. So we saw simple and home-built 3 series E30 models but also a rather brutal 325i E30 Compressor version and even an ex 24 Hours of Spa winner with the 1990 Schnitzer Fina M3 Sport Evo.
The BMW M3 obviously provides the largest number with both models in the E30 – E36 and E46 series. In recent years, quite a lot of replicas of the original M3 were built and we saw several versions of these as well in their then-current version. You immediately feel 35 years younger!!! And on top of that hear the sound of the atmospheric S14 engine. Perhaps the best-sounding 4 cylinder engine ever. Fantastic!
Among all this violence also an ex-WTCC 320i E46 used by the Schnitzer team for Jorg Muller in the 2004 world championship.
With 50 competitors, who then also got to complete three races, this was certainly one of the most attractive series of the weekend. Winning in all the races was the M3 E36 of Englishman Mark Smith. With his BMW prepared by AM Speed, he was just slightly faster than Marc Lauri’s E30 325i Compressor.
The other podium places were shared between Marc Seesing’s Fina M3 and Tim Kuyl’s WTCC 320i.
This Bimmer competition is a Dutch organisation.
YOUNGTIMER TOURING CAR CHALLENGE
The Youngtimer Touring Car Challenge showed that our northern neighbours still have beautiful historic motorsport. A very diverse field (70 cars) with cars from all classes, including touring cars, GTs, prototypes and even Imsa and Transam cars.
And there is not only quantity but also quality. The vast majority are perfectly prepared cars ranging from a Canam Mclaren, through many Porsches ( both 911 and 964 ), Alfas to an Opel Kadett.
Still, we saw some mavericks like this Pontiac Transam SCCA,
Or the giant Oldsmobile Cutlass Transam.
And you can really see that it is a big car when it storms up the Raidillon behind this Chevron B8. The Chevron can go twice in the Oldsmobile.
The first two races were won by Walter Hoffman’s Mclaren MC1 Canam ahead of Roger Bolliger’s Transam Pontiac. The Mclaren no longer takes part in the third race and here the win is for Christian Nowak’s Cobra.
CANAM EN SPORTSCARS
With 20 participants, this series was the smallest of the weekend. Among the participants we found a Norma LMP1, a Canam Mclaren ( M8F or M6B ) and at the back even a Mini Cooper S! Diversity at its best!
This makes for big time differences between them but not really exciting races. The first race was won by Pilz’ Mclaren M6B ahead of Schleifer’s Norma LMP1, which had to concede 45 seconds. However, the Mclaren does not come to the start for the second series and so the Norma can win this race unopposed.
NK GT en TC
Another Dutch series with the historic championship for GT and Touring Cars. A bit like the Belcar Historic with us. And here too we have to conclude that the level has risen in recent years. Once again a wonderful starting field of 50 cars with very beautiful and even unique cars.
The win in both motos is for Reuben’s TVR Griffith. And this Plymouth Barracuda GT of Konola can finish third twice. Nice achievement for this surely special car.
This Supersixties is a series for GT and Touring cars between 1947 and 1965 and is again a Dutch organisation. The cars are these as we know them from the Spa 6 hours or the Peter Sixties series.
The big difference is that there are now two races over 40 minutes with one pilot per car. Another starting field of around 50 participants, including many Dutch ( of course ) but also some Germans and even some Swedes.
The wins are nicely split between Peter Thompson’s TVR Griffith ( Saturday ) and Kennet Persson’s Ford GT40 ( Sunday ).
The Spa Summer Classic was well worth a visit. We saw beautiful races with very nice cars. Those looking for atmosphere needn’t bother because animation or the many stands, like at the 6 Hours, are not present at the Summer Classic. This is an event for true car enthusiasts looking for beautiful racing cars and great races. By the way, admission to this event was completely free. So why not consider a visit?
More info on the organisers’ website.