Brands Hatch celebrates Grand Prix half century anniversary

David Brabham (l) and son Sam Brabham took part in the Jack Brabham tribute parade. Pictures by Simon Hildrew.

David Brabham (l) and son Sam Brabham took part in the Jack Brabham tribute parade. Pictures by Simon Hildrew.

First published in Sport
Last updated

The last major event at Brands Hatch saw the north Kent circuit celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first Grand Prix in fine style with a pair of FIA masters historic Formula One contests.

On the same day the life of three-time world champion Sir Jack Brabham was celebrated by a moving parade of cars originally built and raced by his eponymous team.

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Sir Jack's son David led the tributeat the wheel of a Martini-liveried Brabham BT45, while his own son Sam also took part in a 1967 Brabham BT24.

The ensemble of Brabham machines took to the track for a flying lap of the Grand Prix circuit, on which Sir Jack was a winner in 1966, before coming to a halt on the grid for a special photo shoot.

Brands Hatch’s own F1 history was celebrated in fine fashion by a pair of historic Formula One races, both of which were won by Steve Hartley in his Arrows A4, who was forced to fight hard for success in both races.

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Hartley led the first of the two contests from lights to flag, despite constant pressure from the chasing Ensign, capably piloted by Simon Fish.

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The chasing Ensign driver attempted to outmanoeuvre Hartley as they entered Paddock Hill Bend on the second lap.

However, the Arrows driver stood firm on the inside line to defend his position.

The lead battle endured throughout the race, with the gap between the top two being maintained at less than a second for the latter half of the race.

Mike Wrigley's Williams was left in a lonely third position, but behind him a terrific battle was ensuing for fourth position.

Richard Barber's Williams FW08C led the scrap in the early stages before dropping out with a car issue, with Gregory Thornton eventually taking the spot in his Lotus 91/5, following a close scrap with the Ian Simmonds' Tyrrell and Mark Dwyer's March.

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Fish immediately underlined his intentions at the start of the second historic F1 race, overtaking Hartley before druids and maintaining an advantage for the opening five laps.

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Hartley stole the lead back as they headed onto the Grand Prix loop for the sixth time, a lead which he would retain until the end.

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There was major drama on the eighth lap as Dwyer rolled his Ensign into the Clearways gravel trap, causing a safety car period.

The second half of the race was dominated by Silvio Kalb's charging Arrows as he hunted down Wrigley's third placed Williams.

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Kalb did eventually get past the Williams but fractionally too late, as Wrigley held on to take his second podium of the weekend.

The FIA masters historic sports cars provided one of the most exciting contests and it was Martin O'Connell in the Chevron B19 who once again took the early lead from yesterday's Lola T70, this time driven by Leo Voyazides.

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O'Connell was unable to make the most of his early advantage, as he was forced into a retirement by a damaged gearbox.

Voyazides eventually brought his car home, almost 40 seconds ahead of Jason Wright's similar Lola.

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Voyazides was also victorious in the Pre-66 Touring Cars as well as the gentleman drivers contest, alongside his regular driving partner Simon Hadfield.

Chris Ward drove his Lister Costin to victory in the Stirling Moss Trophy, for classic sports and GT cars, while James Murray took victory in the second of the weekend's FIA Lurani Trophy races for Formula Junior machines.

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One of the most eclectic grids of the weekend came in the Netherlands-based NKHTGT race, which featured everything from Chevrolet Corvettes to a Fiat Abarth 1000.

Michiel Campagne won the race in one of the former.

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