Throughout the weekend the glorious sounds of historic racing cars resounded all round the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit. On the track and off, Spa-Classic fulfilled all its promises setting new records for spectators, more than 20 000.
After a slight fall in numbers last year, Peter Auto and its partners, in particular EFG and Zenith as well as the Bonhams auction house, mobilised their efforts to broke the record attendance of 20 000 spectators set in 2015.
On Friday, Spa-Francorchamps lived up to its reputation as it was raining when the entrants arrived at the Belgian circuit. It was one way of baptising the new grid, Euro F2 Classic, which will race at all the forthcoming historic meetings organised on circuits by Peter Auto. The clouds vanished on Saturday and Sunday and the spectators were able to enjoy the multiple attractions at the circuit to the full starting with the races.
Eight grids totalling just over 300 cars ensured the on-track spectacle. Among the most eagerly awaited were the saloons and coupes that commemorated the halcyon days on the Spa 24 Hours, and reminded everybody that in the not-too-distant past the Belgian endurance race was exclusively reserved for large-scale production cars. Like their predecessors, the drivers of BMW 3.0 CSLs, Volvo 240Ts and Ford Escorts did battle both in the daytime and at night as one of the heats took place late on Saturday evening creating an ambience that was sheer magic! And of course endurance fans got their full dose of thrills with the Sixties’ Endurance, the Trofeo Nastro Rosso, CER 1 and 2 and Group C Racing. Five Peter Auto grids assembled a large number of prototypes and GTs that had raced in the Spa 1000 km in the past: Ford GT 40s, Jaguar Type Es, Shelby Cobras, Ferrari 250 LMs, Porsche 962s, etc. There was also a scattering of more recent models like an Audi R8 from the 2001 Le Mans 24 Hours and a Maserati MC12 that raced in the 2005 Spa 24 Hours, which added spice to spectacular parades. Single-seaters made their comeback this year with the new Euro F2 Classic grid which attracted 19 cars that were responsible for the glory days of the European Championship between 1967 and 1978, as well as a field of 50 Formula Vees!
While practice and racing never let up spectators could leave the trackside for a few minutes – or even a few hours – to admire the 1400 collector cars on display. On Sunday, the 180 crews in the Youngtimer Rally joined up with this beautiful selection illustrating the history of the motor car, and brought their journey to an end with a parade on the roller-coaster in the Ardennes. In the village spectators thrilled with excitement to the Wall of Death (a motorbike show), and then tried their hand at the driving simulators. Other forms of entertainment like Racing Bug, the Michel Vaillant Gallery and exhibitors (scale models, ready-to-wear, books, watches, etc.) also delighted the large crowd.
Today, Sunday Spa-Classic hosted an auction by Bonhams for the fourth time in its history. Bonhams Head of Motoring Europe, Philip Kantor, commented: ‘Holding a sale at such an adrenaline-fuelled location is always a privilege, and we were delighted to bring such a varied selection of motor cars to Spa once again. Bonhams once again proved its expertise in offering significant single-owner collections, indicated by the 100% sell rate of the Swiss schloss collection.’ The star of the show was the perennially popular 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster, which achieved an astonishing €1,127,000 against a pre-sale estimate of €600,000-800,000.
Thanks to the success of this event Patrick Peter will be back in the spring of 2018 for the 8th staging of Spa-Classic. In the meantime, three weeks hence, the entrants in the Peter Auto grids will flock to the Dijon-Prenois circuit for the Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or.