Special races dedicated to the memory of two of motor sport’s most respected figures, Peter Gethin and Alan Mann, will be among the highlights of the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival, this summer’s Silverstone Classic powered by the AA (20-22 July).
The Peter Gethin Memorial Trophy for howling, growling Formula 2 and Formula 5000 single-seater machinery (1960s-70s) plus the Alan Mann Trophy for evocative Under 2 Litre Touring Cars (1960s-70s) are sure to provoke plenty of emotion among public – already pre-sales are 31 per cent up on 2011’s event which attracted some 80,000 visitors, itself a record.
Gethin was renowned for his exploits in Formula 5000, winning back-to-back British titles in 1969 and 1970 plus the Tasman Series in 1974. He even used an F5000 car to upstage the Formula 1 teams in the then-annual Race of Champions event at Brands Hatch in 1973. Gethin is also famous for winning what remains the closest race in Formula 1 history – the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 1971.
Meanwhile Mann set new standards in race car preparation that earned his Alan Mann Racing team official backing from automotive giant Ford and made it the outfit to beat in European and British saloon car racing in the mid-late Sixties. In addition, Mann’s squad was responsible for one of sportscar racing’s most stunning creations later that same decade, the Ford F3L.
Present at yesterday’s (Weds 9 May) Silverstone Classic media preview event were both men’s sons, Nick Gethin and Henry Mann – the latter will contest the U2TC race at the wheel of a Ford Lotus Cortina in the iconic red and gold colours made so famous by his father’s team.
Nick Gethin said his father, who passed away in December 2011, would have been moved by the tribute. He commented: “It’s just a lovely occasion and actually an absolute privilege to see and meet other drivers racing cars from that era and who want to carry on that spirit. The race will be a very emotional occasion for many people. My father would have been proud as punch and touched greatly that so many of his contemporaries thought so highly of him.”
Having lost his father in March, Henry Mann added: “Dad would have been chuffed. In the last ten years of his life it was always a great pleasure for him to meet up with old friends and see the old cars go round. He’d been out of racing for about 30 years but then, to suddenly find this revival in classic and historic cars and bump into some old friends and faces around the paddock – particularly at the Classic – was a big thing for him.
“The race for me will be quite a big deal. Normally I’d have called my father and asked for his advice on a few things but not having that now is a bit difficult. It will be emotional but hopefully he will be looking down approvingly. I’m not expecting any gentlemanly behaviour from my rivals and neither my father nor I would expect that. We’re racers at the end of the day.”