50 Photos Of The Action-Filled Brands Hatch Masters Historic Festival
Photography by Jason Fong
Set in the beautiful Kent countryside, Brands Hatch is a stunning spectator track and is one of the best places to get in touch with the magic of motorsport. Although it is the arena-like ‘Indy’ configuration that is used primarily throughout the year, the special GP loop that sees cars head into the adjoining forest is limited to use for only a handful of special events—and the Masters Historic Festival was one of those events.
Recalling the rich history of racing at the circuit, the Masters Festival brought together a mix of single seaters including headline FIA Masters Historic F1 championship, endurance sports cars, thunder-y Can-Am machines, and tin top touring cars in a series of sprints, plus the first Masters 3 hour endurance race. A special tribute to racing legend James Hunt also took place to mark 40 years since his first Formula 1 championship.
Although an oil spill and a resulting two hour halt to track activity on Saturday forced drivers to stand back powerless as the orange marshal army descended on the track, this did little to dampen the highlights from the weekend’s racing. Among many were the pre-’66 touring cars, with sideways Ford Cortinas and flame-throwing Mustangs providing some great entertainment. In the Historic Sports Cars, Mark Bates in his Porsche 911 RS took the battle to the sports prototypes, pushing hard into corners. In Can-Am, the eye catching orange Mclaren M8F attempted to engulf the tarmac as it shook the ground on every pass—it was definitely the most aggressive looking car of the weekend.
Formula 1 has always had a special relationship with Brands Hatch, and although the history that has been made at this circuit plays a large role in the circuit’s charm, it is the fact that the GP circuit has largely remained unchanged since these cars were driven in anger in period that made this weekend a genuine step back in time. Watching as the line of historic F1 cars jockeyed for position before braking hard with a succession of violent downshifts for the apex at the exit of dingle dell was simply magical.
With most of the crowd spending their time at legendary Paddock Hill Bend, you could have easily mistaken a walk along the GP circuit for an afternoon stroll through your local national park—such was the relaxing nature of the weekend. The tranquillity of the forest was only disturbed for a few moments per lap by the grid, before the you could once again hear the birds chirping.
It’s this relaxed nature of historic racing that continues to draw me to cover these events. Unlike the closed-off spectacle that is modern F1, weekends like the Masters Festival—bringing variety, exciting racing and plenty of noise—make watching motorsport an absolute joy. Take a wander through the pits and you’ll also enjoy the opportunity to have great conversations with drivers who are just as fanatical about the cars as you are.
For me, that spirit and camaraderie is what motorsport is all about, and thanks to a great weekend at Brands Hatch, I was able to get in touch with that magic once again.