Featured: The 2017 Spa Classic Could Be The Pinnacle Of Vintage Motorsports

The 2017 Spa Classic Could Be The Pinnacle Of Vintage Motorsports

Jayson Fong By Jayson Fong
May 26, 2017
18 comments

Photography by Jayson Fong

One of my initial thoughts as I began my drive to continental Europe for this year’s Spa Classic was that I’d never really been to the iconic circuit during the warmer months of the year, and I can’t recall the last time it wasn’t raining on me trackside. Hoping—and as you’ll soon see, naively expecting—a bright and sunny Belgian reception, I ended up arriving in the Ardennes forest during an absolute downpour. In all honesty, I should have known better than to expect anything else. Alas, Welcome to Spa.

While it would have been nice to have some extra dry clothes, it was still far from doom and gloom over the weekend, largely because there was an assembly of race cars that filled a paddock spread over two pit lanes (to say nothing of the parking area) to take my mind off of the indecisive and inclement weather.

Primarily made up of the beautiful endurance racers from the1960s through to the beasts of Group C and GT cars of more recent times, there were some welcome rarities on display that offered eye candy for visitors in almost all directions, and often in quiet garages hiding some pretty exceptional kit.

However, if missed in the garages, the next best place to catch them was in the assembly area, which was more like a busy section of interlinking roads that eventually lead you to the circuit entrance. Prior to each race, this area hosted some of the best looking traffic jams in the world, with spectators gathered around cars and the occasional glass of wine left on a bonnet as Creedance Clearwater Revival blasted from a nearby VW Kombi Van. Laid back in atmosphere for a few moments before the start, the mood flipped as soon as the whistle blew: helmets went on and engines fired up for the real thing.

On the circuit, a wet day of qualifying and practice made for some spectacular scenes as rooster tails followed closely behind their creators, and images of Mercedes C11s and Porsche 962s hitting boost as they wove through puddles, battling for grip with their rears kicking sideways became firmly imprinted in my memory. Even when the rain eased off for the racing occasionally, the surprises and entertainment didn’t stop coming and spectators were treated to a string of special sights as large grids of racing legends (for instance, a collection BMW 3.0CSLs and flame-spitting Porsche 935s) filled the valley with a mechanical symphony that lasted throughout the day and well into darkness.

Despite all these breathtaking sights and sounds, my weekend highlight had to be when I encountered two of the most valuable cars at the meeting filled with them: a Ferrari 275 GTB and 250LM locked in a game of V12 cat and mouse. Powersliding sideways and engine literally smoking hot and on the heels of the 275GTB, I watched with both anxiety and excitement as £10million of 250LM was thrown through the corners.

And it’s this type of tableau that sums up the Spa Classic for me. With vintage cars worth millions battling it out in head to head racing against a backdrop that constantly reminds you that you are at one of motorsport’s best circuits of all time, the Spa Classic is definitely an event I’d recommend you leave a space for in your travel diary. But remember to bring your walking shoes, you’ll be needing them. It might be a good idea to have an umbrella too, just in case.

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Jayson FongNicolas MossBryan DickersonSam HancockChristopher Gay Recent comment authors
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Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss

Jayson, as always I find your pictures amazing… yet I can tell you really enjoy this event because your results zoom past eleven as they go to twelve. I can only hope to someday attend and be allowed to carry an umbrella for you.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Her I am looking at these pictures again. The picture of the white Group C car sending up a huge spray is fantastic. When I was a kid and movie Le Mans came out, it was the scenes at night and in the rain that really captured my imagination. The huge plumes of spray and the lights reflecting off the pavement. I’m glad you were there for the crappy weather and those moody shots!

Sam Hancock
Sam Hancock

…agh, I misspelled Jayson, sorry dude:(

Sam Hancock
Sam Hancock

Yo Jason! Sensational photographs!! Great job man, and nice write up too.

Jayson Fong
Jayson Fong

Thanks mate! I’ll catch you at the next race meeting! 😉

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Sorry for the misspelling Jayson.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Damn Jason,
Nice job! My only complaint is there’s only one shot of the 312-p. I have some shots of this Ferrari I took in 1972 but they’re nowhere as good as yours.
Thanks

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

Hey Bryan,

Is this the same 312 they did a video of at Willow Springs?

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Hi Christopher,
Man, I love that Willow Springs 312 video! It looks like the same #87. I’ll have to dig through my old slides and see if #87 was one I saw at Watkins Glen back in the day.

Martin Philippo
Martin Philippo

Nice!
You were there on the Friday obiously. We camped there that nigt but were treated to a great day Saturday.
See https://www.cinecars.nl/en/betoverend-spa/

Jayson Fong
Jayson Fong

Yes was there the full weekend, but it’s always the moody stuff that creates fond memories for me! You’ve got some lovely sunshine in your images! I’ve saved some of mine for the upcoming features though, so keep an eye out for them!

Bill Meyer
Bill Meyer

Thanks Jayson. I particularly like the wide shots that show the gorgeous topography and elevation changes at Spa. I’ve said this before but you might be having too much fun even with the damp weather.

Jayson Fong
Jayson Fong

Thanks for the kind words Bill, although Such a picturesque location makes it difficult to take a bad picture! 😀

Nope Nope
Nope Nope

OOOOHH MYYYYYY, you guys hust made my friday even better <3

Dennis White
Dennis White

Jayson, I don’t think you’re telling the truth about the Belgian weather. I was there last August for the Grand Prix and it was sunnier and hotter than here in So Cal! I think it must be like that year-round.

Btw, great article and pics. Thanks!

Jayson Fong
Jayson Fong

Ah! Yes, now I can confirm that it is actually me who brings the rain wherever i go! I’ve been told i must be cursed several times tbh…Hope that i don’t ever attend the GP, it will most certainly rain then!hahahah

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

Jayson, great shots as always… although, I never like to see a driver getting T-boned by another car. Ouch.

Thanks for sharing.

Jayson Fong
Jayson Fong

Thanks Chris, it was on the first lap of the 1hr race too! Ouch indeed!!!!