Friday, 2 September 2016

The Gold Cup, Oulton Park

The last few years have seen me heading off over the country for different events for the August Bank Holiday.  Back in 2012 I was at the Twinwood Festival in Bedfordshire, in 2013 I returned to Twinwood in somewhat worse weather, and 2014 saw me travelling a little less to Oulton Park for the big Gold Cup weekend.  2015, falling just after that year's Sexhibition event, I didn't do anything.

This year I headed back to Oulton Park for the Gold Cup motorsport weekend.  Knowing that I was going to be collected bright and early for the trip to Cheshire, I had meticulously planned my outfit for the day.  With plenty of showers predicted and lots of cloud, I had decided on a vintage outfit complete with stockings and suspenders, of course.  I checked the weather reports religiously up until Saturday night to make sure that there were no changes in weather - more sun, and my outfit may have to change, more rain and as much as I like old cars and a bit of racing then I would probably turn down the offer of attending.

However, with the summer that we have had, I should have known that things wouldn't go according to plan regarding the weather.  I awoke on Sunday to sunshine peering in through the bedroom blinds, like an angelic Peeping Tom.  One look at the weather reports showed things miraculously had changed again.  For over a week there was no doubt that it would rain at Oulton Park -the only question of how much.  Now, however, the reports said no rain, just clouds, and some bright sunshine.  That meant a hasty change of clothing plans.

I slipped into my vintage Hawaiian dress and, more in hope than expectation, grabbed my parasol, just in time for the doorbell ringing to alert me to my ride to the circuit.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
Luckily, only clouds greeted us on arrival, and after parking up we quickly headed for the Pit-Stop Cafe for a customary big breakfast.  Once fuelled up, it was time for a slow meander around the pits.  I love early mornings at motor race events, with the busy atmosphere of people working on their lovely cars, the mixed scents of petrol and oil as engines are tuned and the air of vibrancy and comradeship that seems to prevail among the racers and crews.

It's also a great opportunity to get close up to the cars themselves as they sat under awnings and covers, mechanical gladiators in the quiet calm before the rage of battle.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
I especially loved the pale blue Chevron (No.6 - above) - all beautiful simplicity in it's elegant curves, but sadly I didn't see it race.  One of the main races of the weekend was the Jaguar Classic Challenge - a full 40-minute race.  So, the pits had numerous and lovely Jaguars lined up, all being prepared for their turn on the track.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
After strolling around the pits, I headed over to the WWII display, featuring military vehicles and a (non-flying) Spitfire.  There were plenty of people around the area in vintage dress to add to the display.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
On the main infield area the car clubs had gathered - so anything from pre-war vintage cars to late 1990s models were parked up.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
After a good look around the cars it was time to head back to our car to set out the seats to watch for the first race and open up the picnic hamper.

On cue, the first of the days races kicked off, starting with Historic Road Sports Cars.  In a haze of tyre and exhaust smoke they screamed past on the opening lap, vying for track position on the circuits 'Cascades' section.  Fantastic.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
I loved the blue Sunbeam and little red Frog-Eyed Sprite (which seemed to spend most of the race tootling along at the back of field in a world of its own), but the race was dominated by a blue Morgan and a blue Lotus in hot pursuit, right down to the last lap.  The Lotus was catching up to the Morgan and it looked like a matter of time before it passed the Morgan - only to lose ground after a spin, but caught up again by the last lap, but couldn't find a way past. Great entertainment to start the racing.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
Next up came the Silverline Historic Formula Junior Championship for front-engined single seaters.  Another thrilling race emerged, with the No.2 green Elva eventually victorious.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
Race Three was the long-standing Guards Trophy for Pre-1966 cars.  The top three places on the grid were held by Ford Mustang V8-powered TVRs, and as the flag went down they thundered off into the distance, with the remaining field struggling to catch up.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
Eventually, after some on-track tusselling, the No.46 TVR Griffith triumphed in a thrilling race.

Another gaggle of pre-66 race cars hit the circuit next - this time Grand Prix cars...

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
...before one of the main races of the day - the Derek Bell Trophy.  Definitely the loudest cars of the day, these F5000 and Formula 2 single seaters screamed around the track far quicker than anything I'd see that day.  I wasn't sure of any of the photographs would actually come out, so was quite pleased that they were actually in focus!

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
The winner was the No.22 March.  Brilliant racing, again, even if the March did lead pretty much from the start.

By 3.30pm it was time for the Jaguar Classic Challenge, a race I'd been looking forward to all day.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.

Dexi Delite Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Gold Cup, Oulton Park 2016.
Though not as fast as the previous race, nor as aurally spectacular as the V8 TVRs, it was still a great spectacle, and there isn't much to better the glamorous lines of an E-Type, particularly the extra fast Lightweight models that dominated the race.  It was certainly a fabulous end to my time at the Gold Cup, as sadly although there were a few more races my ride home was scheduled for 4.30pm.

Another great race event from Oulton Park and a lovely way to spend a Bank Holiday.  I'm looking forward to the next few weeks as I'm going to pretty busy socially... so hopefully more posts to come shortly!

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