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How a nonagenarian racing club is celebrating a rare motorsport anniversary

The Vintage Sports-Car Club will begin its 90th anniversary race season this weekend at Silverstone and a whole host of celebrations are planned as it continues to be an important home for historic vehicles

VSCC start at donington 2003

Photo by: Mick Walker

Any organisation that reaches its 90th birthday is clearly doing something right and deserving of a celebration. And the Vintage Sports-Car Club, which was founded in 1934, is certainly planning to commemorate its 90th in style with a week of festivities later this year.

Starting with its traditional Vintage Prescott hillclimb event on the weekend of 3-4 August, the action is then due to transfer to in and around the Stratford-upon-Avon Racecourse on the Monday, when a week’s worth of activities kicks off.

“There will be driving tours, rallies and a big gala day on the Saturday – car clubs are invited to come along to that,” says VSCC secretary Tania Brown. “The public is invited to come in on that day and we will have lots of cars running. It’s about making sure it’s a showcase for anyone that wants to bring their cars along.”

Plans are also being developed for something extra special at the event, with more details due to be announced nearer the time. But the celebration as a whole is designed to reflect the broad range of different disciplines that the VSCC is involved in, stretching far beyond its four circuit racing meetings and regular Pomeroy Trophy February fixture.

“We’ve got something like 54 permitted events this year,” Brown states. “We’re putting something on all over the country nearly every weekend.

“One of the things we’re really proud of is our programme of social tours. It’s not competitive but gives friends a chance to get their cars out and be with like-minded people. It’s getting people out there – you can take the family out for a tour, or you can do a hillclimb or you can do a trial with the family.”

VSCC runs dozens of events each year across many different disciplines, including hillclimbing

VSCC runs dozens of events each year across many different disciplines, including hillclimbing

Photo by: Paul Lawrence

Some of the cars that compete with the VSCC across these varied disciplines even predate the club’s own beginnings. And Brown believes it’s vital that these machines still have the opportunity to get their wheels turning.

“I think it’s really important because it’s great to see cars in museums, but they were built to be used and raced,” she explains. “It really gives a chance for other generations to learn about them when you see them being used in the way they were built to be used.

“There’s nothing like a vintage car – it’s something you can get your hands dirty with. You can be part of maintaining skills, educating people and making sure these cars are still around.”

"It’s important to us that [if] we do something for fun, we’ve got to do it responsibly. I think our members have really taken that on board"
Tania Brown

It’s little wonder that Brown says some of the machines to be found competing with the club would be on the scrapheap if opportunities for contesting events did not exist. And that ties in with the ethos from the VSCC’s 1930s origins, although the club has also sought to move with the times over the past 90 years and has recently led the way in developing sustainability initiatives.

“I doubt our forebears thought we would still be going 90 years later when they set it up with a bit of a pub chat in 1934!” admits Brown. “Back then, it was all about protecting the craftmanship and having fun with our cars. But we know there’s a social responsibility to it.

“We’re doing this for fun, so we have our carbon offsetting and sustainability initiatives. We did our winter driving tests with Coryton Sustain 80 [sustainable fuel], which was very successful. It’s important to us that [if] we do something for fun, we’ve got to do it responsibly. I think our members have really taken that on board.”

Many individual members offset their own emissions from competing, while the VSCC has various schemes in place to negate the harmful impacts of its events more widely. The first of its race fixtures comes at Silverstone this weekend and, to tie in with the celebratory theme, this has been expanded to a two-day meeting for this special year.

ERA also has a 90th anniversary this year and several models are
expected to race at Silverstone

ERA also has a 90th anniversary this year and several models are expected to race at Silverstone

Photo by: Mick Walker

The Saturday will be focused on vintage (pre-1930) machinery, while slightly younger cars are due to be in action on the Sunday. Several other anniversaries are also being marked, including 90 years since the first ERA was built.

“We’ve got five or six ERAs [entered] with possibly a couple more as well,” says Brown. “We also have the Hesketh 308 [Formula 1 car] with Lord Hesketh as it’s 50 years since they won the International Trophy race at Silverstone. It’s something completely different and it will be wonderful to see. And we’ve got a parade of Frazer Nashes as it’s 75 years since their first race at Silverstone.”

Further celebrations are planned at the club’s events at Donington Park (which is set to feature a series of demonstrations of cars through the ages), Cadwell Park and Mallory Park, alongside an appearance at the Oulton Park Gold Cup. All of which will acknowledge the past and continue to write more history in these historic machines’ long stories.

Brown believes it’s important to preserve the history of cars by using them

Brown believes it’s important to preserve the history of cars by using them

Photo by: Mick Walker

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