This weekend I’m going to see some fantastic motorsport action at Silverstone, the home of British motor racing. I have received my ticket in the post and will go along with a college friend to experience the racing action from the Grand Prix Masters.
What is Grand Prix Masters I hear you ask? Well, it’s one-make motor racing series featuring retired Formula One drivers (who are all aged over 45 years old). It’s similar to the Golf Masters or Senior Tour in tennis for retired players who haven’t lost their competitive spirit.
The first race event, at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa took place on 11-13 November 2005. The second race at Losail International Racetrack in Qatar on 28-29 April 2006. Both races were won by Nigel Mansell, the 1992 Formula One World Champion.
The list of drivers taking part is impressive including Riccardo Patrese (team-mate to Mansell at Williams in 1991-92), Pierluigi Martini (Minardi driver in the late 1980s and early 90s), Emerson Fittipaldi (the two-time F1 and Indycar champion), René Arnoux (veteran French racing driver who won 7 Grands Prix), Patrick Tambay (another ace French driver) and many more racing legends.
As for the cars, the drivers race identical open wheel race cars, which are based on 1999 Reynard Champ Cars. The chassis are built by English constructor Delta Motorsport, and are powered by naturally aspirated 80-degree 3.5-litre V8 engines produced by Nicholson McLaren. The engines are based on the Cosworth XB engines previously used in Indycar Racing, and according to the series organisers produce more than 650bhp at 10,400rpm with over 320lbft torque at 7,800rpm. Still pretty quick but not as fast as a F1 car obviously…
Gearbox operation is fully manual, and controlled by a contemporary paddle shift arrangement. I like this feature as it allows the driver to manually change gears and put more skill into the driving.
Grand Prix Masters promoters boast the 650kg cars will reach 200mph. They claim that the combination of stable aerodynamics and considerably simpler technology than is in use in modern Formula One will better demonstrate driver skill and promote overtaking. Which I approve of, I like to see some real ‘wheel-to-wheel’ race action.
Electronic ‘drivers aids’ (such as traction control, power steering and ABS) are absent, and brakes are made of steel rather than carbon (as is used for many contemporary single seater race cars) to increase braking distances. Great news as this aid overtaking and focuses more on the unique talent of the driver.
The racing series sounds great and the opportunity to meet all the racing heroes is a dream come true! I will have a blast at Silverstone on Sunday.
More details on the Grand Prix Masters can be seen here on the official site: http://www.gpmasters.com/