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Triple Dose of Automotive Action is the Perfect Summer Tonic

Anyone with an interest in all things American automotive might have thought they had died and gone to heaven over the extended weekend of July 23/25, with major automotive happenings taking place in two relatively close parts of the country.  The combined European Street Rod Nationals and NSRA Hot Rod Supernationals kicked off at the regular venue of Old Warden near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire on Wednesday July 21st and an hour or so down the road at Silverstone,  Northants, the Silverstone Classic, boasted the biggest grid of V8-engined historic American muscle cars ever assembled at the track - 34 racing V8s with a claimed 17,000 bhp.

With the two events in such close proximity, it seemed only fitting to take in the double spectacle, especially as good weather was forecast for the whole weekend – and what a weekend it turned out to be.


Part of Sunday's impressive Supernationals line-up


Sadly we couldn’t attend the first day of the European Street Rod Nationals on Wednesday, but were there for Thursday afternoon/evening, which saw a cruise out into leafy Bedfordshire and a stop off at Adrian Smith’s Buckland Automotive Engineering rod shop before guests arrived back at Old Warden for a bangers and mash dinner and prize-giving.  During the evening, various awards were handed out.  A group of Finnish rodders took the long distance award, having covered over 1,400 miles one way to be there, while the hard luck award went to Kato & Anna (from Norway) who had their Chevy panel van sideswiped by a hit and run driver while in the UK. The duo were presented with a pinstriped toilet seat with the somewhat appropriate lettering under the lid – “shit happens.”


This chopped Chevy Delivery was one of the many stand out Euro Nats entries. The subtle body mods and modern day flip-flop paint adding to the appearance


Friday morning saw us head out to Silverstone where, in addition to circuit racing, the NASC's Chairman Mike Ashman had organised a display of rods and customs under the name of his new club (UK Street Machines) and was also planning  drag racing demos down the old club straight – the first time (we think) it had seen quarter mile action since the early seventies.  However, Friday’s drag racing action never materialised due to numerous changes in schedules (no fewer than 26 Mark assured us) which meant that the rallycross boys got the club straight to play with during the afternoon.  Apparently drag racing shootouts did take place on Saturday and Sunday and there was some grudge match racing with the classic sports car entries late Sunday afternoon.


Rods, muscle cars, customs, classic yanks and others on show at the Silverstone Classic  (above/below)

Throw in the odd pro-modified for good measure


If you like the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and you haven’t tried the Silverstone Classic, then the chances are you’ll probably enjoy it, as it boast similar cars and trade stands, plus the added bonus of serious racing action. The thundering roar of several Chevy engined Lola T70s blasting past the grandstands was worth the ticket price alone.


V8 sportscar action and an impressive line up of Chevrons, Lola T70s and GT40s below

A rare sight in the UK and one of our favourites was this '64 Comet


As well as healthy track action, the Silverstone Classic had other forms of entertainment to offer during the evenings in particular, with a mass hot air balloon ascent on Friday and music performances throughout the weekend.  Friday night saw rocking bands Dr Feelgood and the Yardbirds take to the stage and although only one or two members of the original Yardbirds line-up remain, they put on an impressive performance with a sound not dissimilar to the original recordings.  The crowning glory being their version of Dazed & Confused, which they explained, was theirs to begin with.  The music continued late into the evening and after the stage closed, Harley Davidson hosted a party in their marquee adjacent their massive and highly impressive trade stand with music from a Blues Brothers tribute band.  Of course the added bonus of a bar helped to while away another couple of hours. 

Frantic action in the paddock - a clutch change perhaps?


Come Saturday morning and we packed up the tents and were back on the road to Old Warden, much to the bemusement of campers who had  just arrived and set up at the Silverstone.  Back at the Supernationals it was clear to see that the 20th annual event had attracted an enormous number of hot rodders as the empty camping field we had left on Friday was now full to capacity – along with the adjoining field set up for Euro Nationals visitors.


Billy Gibbons answers a question.  Earlier he had everyone singing happy birthday to his lady

John Price hosted the Q & A session, which drew a healthy crowd 


There were many standout features of the weekend, including the slick organisation (it seemed like most of the Mid-Surrey Roadsters members had volunteered for duty for the earlier ESRA event), the star guests, the sheer number of hot rods and of course the weather.  Pete Chapouris was there throughout the entire weekend and chatted away with announcer John Price on stage to the assembled masses.  Headlining guest, Billy Gibbons from rock band ZZ Top, travelled north from a music festival in London to put in an appearance on stage during Sunday afternoon.  He answered rodders questions and signed autographs and although some may have been disappointed with the short 20 minute Q&A session,  Billy seemed to be signing autographs and meeting fans for hours before and after.  In spite of his fame it was interesting to see his entourage queuing up for food at the mobile vendors just like everyone else.


Previous Participants Choice winners were lined up to celebrate the 20th anniversay of the Supernationals


As for the show winners, Steve Marley and partner Diane’s freshly completed Model A pick up (by Carl Powles of Grimsby), with subtle grey paint and wheels and an equally sublime interior, walked off with Participant’s Choice, which was well deserved bearing in mind how much Steve and Diane have given to the hobby.  I think Carl must have been pretty chuffed too!  Shame I don't have a decent picture of it.

The top 10 winners and other notables are listed below.   

31 Ford Pick Up - Steve Marley

34 Ford - Dan Donati
34 Ford Sedan - Jean Michel Gonnet
34 Ford 4 Door Sedan - Kaj Tarvainen
37 Ford - Keith Murrell
Standard 12 - Matt Langbant
55 Ford Pop - Liz Anderson – Sweden
34 Chevy Coupe – Steve & Ryan Fletcher
48 Chevy - Micheal Zeise
32 Ford 5 Window - Gary Chester
46 Chevy Pick Up - Kevin Foster

33 Willys- Paul Kennedy

32 Coupe - Dave Sturgess

Story & Photos: Andy Kirk

We loved the interior of this '32 Roadster and the whole car appeared to have been built to a very high standard, but it didn't make the top 10 cut


Another favourite of ours was this oh so subltle Falcon done with a hint of pro-touring style

Keith Abrehart's gorgeous steel 32 Coupe was another fresh out rod from the HGHR stable.  Again, maybe it was just too subtle for the judges?

A smattering of bikes made up the showfield but what there was seemed to be of real quality

Cheeky showground photography!

A couple of scandinavian customs


Les Howlett was busy showing potential buyers around his tasty steel coupe

Not sure who this 32 Roadster belonged to but it certainly shouts hot rod

Even rock stars have to eat sometime!  One for the album for the Potato Crazy vendors


Pop Browns