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Crystal Palace, 29 - 30 May 2011

The Crystal Palace race circuit in South East London was a popular and easily accessible venue for motor racing fans up until1972, but complaints from local residents about noise, and mounting circuit safety issues forced its closure. In the late nineties, the Sevenoaks & District Motor Club organised some sprint meetings, using part of the original track, but by 2000 the local council had plans to remodel the park, and motor sport activity ceased once again. However, the club didn’t give up their battle to hold sprint meetings in the park, and a decade later over the Bank Holiday weekend in May 2010 motor sport was back. The gathering was a great success, with over 200 hundred competitors participating over the two days, and around 5000 spectators enjoying the on track activity and the ambience of the grass paddock area, with its laid back “clubby” atmosphere.

The success of the 2010 gathering saw a return of the event over the same weekend in 2011, now with a title sponsor in the form of the Ancaster Group, a major Fiat, Hyundai and Nissan dealer in the south London region. Naturally they had expansive displays of their vehicles, including the Nissan 370Z and GT-R, an  example of the latter also being the course car, together with a F1simuator and a  “Guess the number of footballs in the boot” competition for the younger attendees. There was also a separate paddock for various car clubs, which contained almost as wide a variety of machinery as the adjacent race paddock.

There was plenty of track activity, with a tightly run programme, that kept things moving and interesting for the large crowd of spectators, with practice runs in the morning, and three competitive runs for each group each afternoon The variety of cars participating covered a  very broad spectrum with something for virtually every taste, from pre-war charmers like a Bugatti T35B, MG J2 and J3 models, a Riley Falcon Special and a pair of Fiat Balillas, through a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette, the unique HWM- Chevrolet “Stovebolt Special”  to more modern examples like a quintet of Ferraris, an Alfa Romeo SZ and a very rare Lancia 037 Stradale. Sunday visitors had a bonus in the form of a demonstration run by a 1971 Surtees TS11 F5000 car, which had been raced in period by Sam Posey to 2nd in the 1972 championship. For fans of two wheels, there was a display area where members of the Brooklands Museum were demonstrating motorcycles from the museum’s collection. Back on the track, and the fastest time of the meeting went to Mike Field in his Stohr DSR, with a time of 35.85secs, beating the Ensign LNF 3 of Fyrth Cross by 0.05sec.

Keith Bluemel