Hundreds Of Race Cars Came To Hungary’s F1 Circuit To Celebrate And Reenact History
Photography by Máté Boér
Two years after the first running, Peter Auto’s colorful field of historic race cars arrived at the Hungaroring once again to provide another weekend of fantasy fulfillment for those of us who’d rather see a Porsche 917 lap the track than a Mercedes-Benz FW10. Only a 30-minute drive away from the capital city of Budapest, the track gathered 45,000 spectators over the course of the three-day spectacle of motorsport, despite the pessimistic weather forecasts. The number of participants has also grown in the event’s short history, with 170 cars populating seven different race groups in 2019.
Local favorites were complemented by international additions, like some of my favorites, the 1957 Maserati 300S and a pair of Bizzarrinis: a 5300 GT and GT America. It’s rare to see anything from Bizzarrini at a proper track event, and I made sure to memorize the schedule of their race group. The difference between the two models is that the GT America wears a fiberglass body instead of an alloy one, and underneath uses a double wishbone suspension setup in the rear.
As can be expected at major classic events these days, an astonishing lineup of Porsche racing machines were also unloaded from a host of transporters, with the endless numbers of 911s accompanied by 718s, a 904, a 908, 910s, a 924 GTR, 962s, and the big 917 itself, dressed in its iconic Gulf livery. I never thought I’d have the chance to see a 917 coming through the Hungaroring chicane, but there I was, watching it at racing pace, for the legendary Porsche wasn’t there for a rolling exhibition: it finished at the top of the podium, beating Chevrons and Lolas of the period like nothing had changed since 1970.
I made up an oddball of the weekend award just to give it to the lovely 1958 Deutsch & Bonnet HBR. This little French car had a wonderful patina to it with a hand-painted license plate and all, and although its two-cylinder Panhard boxer motor wasn’t competitive against the Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Porsche it was grouped with, it finished both races and earned some well-deserved bits of extra applause from the audience.
Both weekend afternoons were highlighted by true racing action, not parade laps. Saturday was capped with a two-hour race from the Sixties’ Endurance category, in which a handful of Shelby Cobras dominated the field. Especially the team from DK Engineering, with their ex-Colombian Cobra showing outstanding performance for a car of its age (and value), easily winning the event with the largest starting grid of the weekend.
The spectators had to wait until Sunday afternoon for the 911 2.0L Cup competition, which offered the Hungaroring Classic’s best lap after lap action and car vs car duels. Even those who might otherwise say that the umpteenth 911 can’t be that interesting ended up watching this race open-mouthed. If you aren’t familiar with the series, it’s a grid reserved for the original, 2.0L short wheelbase chassis 911. Behind their steering wheels one will find many professional drivers, who also actively race in series like the Porsche Supercup or the European Le Mans. Their 90-minute race was a perfect highlight and finale for me, as it’s always good fun to watch collectible, sought-after classics go at it like a modern cup car group.
Similar to the track’s story with Formula One in 1986, the Hungaroring became home to the first major classic car event of this scale in Central Eastern Europe, and the organizers announced that a six-year contract has been signed, ensuring that the event will be held every other year. There were already plenty of visitors from neighboring countries, and I’m sure that with the new schedule firmly in place, we’ll only be hosting more fans in the future. The organizers did a good job improving on the already successful recipe from the last version, and they filled the empty spaces of the track’s service areas with hundreds of classic cars, food trucks, historic airplanes, picnic areas, all the usuals you’d expect at a world-class classic celebration. I haven’t taken the time to think much about my 2021 calendar yet, but this is certainly on it.