Right. Phil Lomas, 1992 champion (Skoda-Rover V8) and Nigel James lead the field in 1993
Updated 13 March 2012 DAVRIAN & ROVER pages added, updated BMW, OTHER SPORTS & GT pages
Updated 12 March 2012 Car Index reworked into A-Z format
Updated 25 January 2012 to links adding in specialsaloons.com and special saloon forum
Updated 7 April 2011 to Pages: IMP, SKODA-ROVER
Updated 6 April 2011 Adding Peter Howarth photos to Pages : LOTUS, OTHER SKODAS.
Updated 5 April 2011 Adding Peter Howarth photos to Pages : MG6R4
Updated 8 March 2011 To Pages : PROSPORTS, ULTIMA, VIDEOS, FOR ESCORT, BMW, DAVRIAN ,
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Castle Combe race circuit in Wiltshire England existed, as a low-key club racing haven where major championships almost never ventured. For years it had teetered on the edge of closure, beset by financial and planning issues, a few vocal NIMBY neighbors and thus no capital investment to improve it's ancient bumpy surface and limited spectator facilities. In many ways it was stuck in the late 60s, and all the better for it as the viewing was clear of any debris fencing and the run off areas were such that you stood pretty close to the cars as they blasted past, heightening the impression of speed and excitement.
Once the circuit's very existence had become more secure, under Howard Strawford's enlightened control, by the mid 80s it started to blossom as a popular venue not only for competitors but also for spectators. The May Bank Holiday event in 1994 alone drew 14,000 paying spectators; all attracted by good value for money, close high-speed racing, entertaining commentary and great viewing. And this was for an afternoon of club racing....not the BTCC and TV cameras.
In more recent years Combe has continued to prosper and grow, hosting British F3, BOSS and BRDC GT races (among others); it's now smart, well maintained and busy - a circuit of the 21st century with debris fences and large spectator banks to keep in the noise, a tarmac covered paddock and slick organization. And they event cut the trackside grass....
Back in the 80s and early 90s every meeting would feature the circuit's own hard fought FF1600 and Special GT series, and an eclectic mix of club racing series from Mini Sevens and Ford Fiestas to Monoposto and Clubmans.
Over time the Special GTs evolved into a series of major interest among the regular race-goers and grew from a fairly humble combination of Special Saloons and Modsports cars (there were never enough of either type to fill the grid alone) into a heady cocktail of 4wd Group B rally cars, Group C Le Mans cars and some potent and plain weird specials. In fact almost anything with at least two seats and covered wheels! Often competitors from a visiting series would join in for another race or just to benefit from some extra practice laps prior to their own event. Prosports, Thundersaloons, Modified Saloons, Ferraris, Porsches, Intermarque and Clubmans entries often filled out the grids and sometimes caused an upset or two in the results.
Over the years there were eras - we had the Imps and Mini Marcos's in the early 80s, Lotus Elans in the mid 80s, MG 6R4s at the turn of the decade, TWR Jaguars shortly after and then a host of Prosports and closely related Ultimas . The joy of it was never knowing exactly what was coming next! In these days of one-make and spec' series, such variety only increases the nostalgic appeal.
This website is not a definitive history but a rose-tinted look back at the wonderful (& the sometimes wacky) cars which graced the grids for a decade and a half .
Text & Photos By Simon Lewis (email)
Additional photos by Peter Howarth
Any inaccuracy that may be found in the identification of the cars or drivers is entirely unintentional and I am happy to correct or alter anything that's incorrect or causes offence. Any contributions, photos, stories, links or videos will be most gratefully received.