This Is Where Iconic Race Cars Spend Their Winter Break
Winter is usually a slow period in circuit racing, and—often for enthusiastic spectators—a period often accompanied by the twiddling of thumbs and a countdown calendar of some description. But it’s not all bad news: hibernation for most historic racing cars usually means specialist garages around the world are packed full of special machines for storage, servicing, and other work.
And that’s exactly what I found at the home of Sam Thomas Racing, historic racing specialists who also look after the Alexander Calder BMW 3.0 CSL Art Car recreation we’ve featured on Petrolicious before. Of all the garages I have had the opportunity to visit, I must say that this one in particular stands out as one my favourites because of its remarkable variety. It is simply a treasure trove of significant cars that span what some may call the golden era of motorsport, mainly from post-WW2 to the 1980s.
From a 1950s Ecurie Ecosse Lister Knobbly, ’60s Jaguar E-Type Lightweight, ’70’s Samson Shadow DN9 Formula 1 car and two ’80s Silk Cut Jaguar Group C cars, all eras were covered as well as many types of motorsport—from racing prototypes to single seaters.
Stand outs for me were the Lister Knobbly that I witnessed take home the silverware at last year’s Goodwood Member’s Meeting, and, of course, the Silk Cut Jaguars. Although I have a soft spot for the machines of Group C, it would be hard not to acknowledge how special it is seeing two of them under the same roof.
But what really made the visit special was seeing this variety of cars at so many different stages of the restoration process. Although many cars were more or less intact and race ready, it was also great to see many stripped bare to their raw state as a tubular chassis or bare shell. This was a nice reminder that each component is a work of art, reinforced by the spare Silk Cut Jaguar body shells that were exhibited on nearly every wall.
This season, Sam Thomas Racing will be campaigning most of these machines, and I’m more than excited to see them on full throttle in the warmer months. However, after visiting a garage full of history like this, for now, I’ll just enjoy the fact that I’ve found the perfect way indulge in historic motorsport during winter…