Spectacular Group B Rally Machines To Be Unleashed At Silverstone Classic
It says a lot that although Group B rallying existed only for a few years in the early 1980s, it still today is harked back to frequently as world rallying’s golden age. Often termed ‘Formula 1 in the forests’, Group B regulations introduced for 1982 had minimal restrictions or homologation requirements, and allowed almost unlimited power. With this, fearsome machines were created and wrestled on exacting rally stages around the world.
And at this summer’s Silverstone Classic retro racing festival, taking place on July 26-28, a number of Group B machines will be unleashed in a special live display. Rallying at Silverstone isn’t as odd a pairing at you might assume, as while the venue is most commonly associated with F1 British Grands Prix, the World Rally Championship’s Rally GB—known formerly as the RAC Rally—used to hold crowd-pleasing Sunday Spectator Stages in locations such as stately homes and race tracks. With this it competed at Silverstone on five occasions—in 1980, 1989, 1997, 1998 and 1999. Silverstone therefore missed the legendary Group B era, but Silverstone Classic this July will seek to make up for the omission!
The special rallying showcase at this year’s Classic will include fearsome Group B monsters such as the Ford RS200, Nissan 240RS and Peugeot 205 T16. And it won’t only be about Group B machines, as the very iconic blue Subaru Impreza in which Colin McRae competed at Silverstone in 1997 en route to winning his third and final RAC Rally will be there too. Even better, the cars won’t merely sit on display in static form, they’ll be demonstrated in anger in the event’s live demo area located on a stretch of the old Silverstone track layout between Abbey and Bridge, now called the “Shift & Drift Zone”. And Silverstone Classic visitors will be able to enter the zone for no extra cost over and above their Classic entry ticket.
The rally machines will share the spotlight in the zone with the ever-spectacular rubber-burning Streetcar Shootout, where more than 70 cars compete in a British streetcar drag racing contest which is now celebrating its 10th year at the Classic. Last year, newcomer Danny Wilson took top honors in his Outlaw Anglia, crossing the line at some 153mph. And this year, Sam Freeman will open each show with a display of his supercharged Keith Black-powered Dragster producing some 2000bhp, while closing each show will be Thing 8 supercharged outlaw–the star of last year’s Classic–plus Lee Galimore’s Red Mist Altered dragster, with that display totaling close to 4000bhp.
Legendary stunt driver and multiple world record holder Terry Grant will also feature in the Shift & Drift Zone, with his usual spellbinding display. “It’s great to be adding the aura of Group B to the power-packed Shift & Drift Zone show,” said Silverstone Classic CEO Nick Wigley. “Those monsters really caught the public’s imagination back in the eighties and it’s no surprise that they continue to do so today. The heroics of Colin McRae were similarly exciting, so the presence of his RAC Rally-winning Subaru is sure to be yet another must-see magnet for all Classic visitors.”
Images courtesy of Silverstone Classic