Reigniting Rivalries: The Spa Classic Offers Decades Of Racing History In A Single Weekend
Photography by Jayson Fong
Layered with motorsport history since it was first raced on in 1922, the Spa-Francorchamps has seen nearly every level of competition, from single-seaters to endurance racing prototypes, take place on its corners. Helping to revive the spirit of this extraordinary past, the Spa Classic saw the circuit located in the heart of the Ardennes Forest welcome nine grids of historic machines back to one of the world’s most beautiful and challenging tracks.
With a large focus on Spa’s rich history of endurance racing as well as a nod to its single-seat past with the Euro F2 race in which many legendary names owed their experience, spectators were given stunning views as eight of the nine races featured some of the world’s most iconic sports cars to have ever raced. From the dominant V12 Ferraris of the 1960s, a grid dedicated entirely to early Porsche 911s, all the way to the high-speed hysteria of Group C, and technical marvels of modern prototype and GT cars—there was truly a race for any classic car enthusiast.
Among the many highlights of the weekend, it was likely the Sixties Endurance Grid which best rejuvenated the spirit of endurance challenges at Spa. Formed by over 70 entries that included everything from V8-powered AC Cobras, Jaguar E-Types, and featherweight Lotus Elans, the formation of such a variety was reminiscent of scenes from the period. To the delight of spectators, exciting racing followed suit as cars battled out for two hours, creating a never ending stream of the sights and sounds of the 1960s through the Ardennes.
In similar nostalgic fashion, the Heritage Touring Cup, made up of a range of the most loved liveries from 1966 to 1984, would take the endurance theme to the next level with racing taking place in complete darkness. Setting myself up at the summit of the circuit and looking down onto Pouhon with the paddock in the distance, I watched as Ford Escorts and Capris, BMW 2002s and 3.0CSLs relived their rivalries in what must be one of motorsports’ most inspiring views.
Returning to daylight, some of the most exciting racing was seen in the two grids of Classic Endurance Racing cars. Spanning a period from the late 1960s to the 1980s before the era of Group C, Ford GT40s went head to head with Chevrons while BMW M1s took on the might of the Porsche 935s. With some astonishing differences in speed between the classes, it was a breath of fresh air to watch as brave drivers in older cars piled on the pressure at the heels of their contemporaries and made some tight overtakes.
It’s a sobering thought when you consider that there has almost been a century of racing at the circuit. The scene of many memorable moments in racing were celebrated over the weekend with the cars that were there to make it happen. With more contemporary machines from recent times beginning to claim historic status, I’ll be looking forward to future editions of the event.
If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that there will be no shortage of cars and drivers and fans to call upon to take up the challenge. There’s no place like Spa.