Back-tracking – our top five retro-racers

Heritage stock cars at Northampton media day

They say nostalgia isn’t what it used to be – but Britain’s race tracks certainly have the retro look these days.

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to attend a media day organised by BriSCA Heritage, the folk who revive and race old-style stock cars – some preserved from decades past, others modern reproductions of oval track machines from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

The event at Northampton International Raceway provided an excellent showcase for the dedicated enthusiasts who race these classic machines, and it got us thinking about the whole motorsport nostalgia scene.

Leaving aside the many wonderful historic car competitions, there are also race series for modern cars with the classic look. So here – in no particular order because we love them all – are our favourites, the famous five retro racers:

  1. Legends Cars – 5/8-scale replicas of American classics with punchy Yamaha engines, these cars originated on the US ovals, but are now equally at home on road courses around the world. The UK has the televised CPC championship on the circuits and a separate series on the short tracks. There is a separate series in Scotland too, and major international races.
  2. Trofeo Abarth 500 – Fiat’s new 500 captures the charm of the original Italian microcar, but with more comfort, space and power. The new Trofeo Abarth 500 GB series for the fastest 500 variant has been a real hit as a support feature to major events and with regular TV coverage.
  3. Fun Cup – they look like classic VW Beetles, but these are actually single-seat race cars with replica shells, and mid-mounted petrol or TDI diesel engines, competing in team-based endurance contests around the UK and more widely. They even have a 25-hour race at Spa. Fun is the word.
  4. MINI in WRC – not a race series, we know, but we were delighted to hear that the new-style Mini would be following its legendary ancestor into top-flight rallying. Remember the Cooper S winning the Monte? Now Prodrive is developing the Mini Countryman WRC, which should be ready for testing this autumn.
  5. Rebels Racing – Like the Legends, these are more scaled-down classic look-a-likes, but modelled on the old Ford Popular. These 5/8-scale oval racers compete on UK short oval tracks and occasionally in mainland Europe too. As the big bumpers suggest, contact is all part of the game.

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3 Responses to Back-tracking – our top five retro-racers

  1. Here’s another up coming classic formula for 2011…The Classic Modifieds.

    Classic Modifieds, a brand new & unique retro race formula made their debut at Norfolk’s Swaffam Raceway in July 2010. Time honoured favourites such as the Ford Anglia 105e, Mk I Cortina, Mk I Escort along with a Morris Minor 1000 were the first to hit the oval.

    The cars for many evoke memories of the halcyon days of oval racing, for others it’s more a nostalgic reminder of the cars that used to grace their fathers driveway.
    So come and step back in time and absorb the combined spectacle of racing classics and the deep rumble of powerful V6 engines echoing around Swaffham Raceway. The Classic Modifieds promise to provide a feast for all the senses.

    The formula was developed to deliver an inexpensive, yet a high performance retro class that would appeal equally to both the driver’s & oval race fans. With this in mind the emerging formula has materialised using models from the 1950’s and 60’s, V6 powered, running on retro high profile slicks. The look & the design of the cars drawing heavily from the early Speed & Economy cars raced at Hednesford in the 1970’s together with an influence from the 1970’s American Ministox & Modifieds formula’s.
    The cars are modified in line with published rules that define how the cars are to be built, powered and raced. The formula was designed for the true enthusiast, encouraging petrol-heads to build & modify their own race cars in a way that makes the cars evenly matched whilst keeping costs down! As well as running similar engines, all cars must have standard gearboxes and ‘old skool’ live axles with locked differentials. The formula is a non contact class – the external bars are there to protect the bodyshells from racing incidents. Organisers want to see a truly diverse line-up on the starting grid, so a limit of five identical cars per season has been applied, e.g. 5 Cortina’s, 5 Anglia’s & so on.

    Classic Modifieds due on track for 2011

    1. No 92 Morris Minor
    2. No 63 105E Anglia
    3. No 74 Mk1 Cortina
    4. No 69 Mk2 Cortina
    5. No 99 Mk1 Capri
    6. No10 Mk1 Escort
    7. No 77 105E Anglia
    8. No 01 Standard Vanguard 6
    9. No 94 100E
    10. No 30 Morris 1000
    11. No 71 Mk1 Capri
    12. No16 Corsair

    First race date for 2011 is the 24th April at Swaffham Raceway

    For more information please visit

  2. Pingback: Oval track racing – motor sport’s best-kept secret | Weltchmedia's Blog

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