In 1964, a young Swede headed to Karlskoga, his local racing circuit, to spectate at the sixth round of the European Touring Car Championship. It was a life-changing day for him, as he became fascinated with a huge 7.0-litre Ford Galaxie being raced by British driver, Alan Mann. He had never seen a car quite like the big Ford and it fuelled his future driving ambitions.
The boy would mature into rally legend, Stig Blomqvist, a driver for whom I hold the utmost respect, and you can witness him honouring his professional career at this month’s Silverstone Classic (26-28 July), when he drives that same Galaxie, as fielded by gentleman racer and Ford V8 specialist, Bill Shepherd. Like his infamous Top Gear namesake, Stig is not usually a man of many words, because he prefers to let his driving do the talking.
However, he told me: “It’s a very good story isn’t it, eh? Seeing that big car all those years ago really made a huge impression on me, when I was young. It looked four times bigger than all the other Cortinas and two-stroke Saabs on the grid back then! I could never have dreamt that one day I’d be actually racing the very same car that first excited me at Karlskoga. It’s going to be an incredible personal moment for me and a lot of fun at Silverstone. I can’t wait.”
Bill Shepherd has actually owned that very same Galaxie for more than 20 years, so it only seemed right and proper to invite THE Stig to the Silverstone Classic to race it. As was the case at Karlskoga in 1964, the commemorative Transatlantic Trophy race at Silverstone will feature a David vs Goliath grid packed with Lotus Cortinas, Minis and Alfa Romeos, all taking on American V8 muscle, in a full-capacity 58-car grid. Believe me…these racers do not hold back!
It the Galaxie wins, it could be a double-celebration as Blomqvist’s 73rd birthday is on the Monday (29 July) following. The full race programme will see more than 20 retro-races taking place, in an event also celebrating major anniversaries for Bentley, Capri and Mini, plus evocative showdowns for classic era Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 single-seaters, all together on the same race-card for the very first time. There’s also a sparkling Twilight Tribute to Le Mans as the sun goes down on the Saturday evening.
Ticket-only access includes period funfair rides, driving experiences, interactive games, massive car club displays, plus live music concerts on both Friday and Saturday evenings, which pay homage to the seminal Woodstock festival of 1969. Along with access to both racing paddocks and open trackside grandstands, all of those fun-fuelled attractions are included in the ticket price.