2016 Year in Review – Britcar
Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship.
Britcar GT and Production Championship.
Britcar Prototype Series.
Britcar in 2016 was a year of rebirth. Taken over at the end of the 2015 season by Hedley-Cowell Events Ltd, the series spent the off-season revamping the rules to make everything a little fairer and revamping the image to distance itself from the mis-management of the past.
Round 1 at Silverstone was a combination of hope for the future and dispair at the continuation of the past. With a decent grid and actually very good racing the competitive side was well sorted. The organisation was still lacking though as not circuit, nor club, nor series had thought to arrange a place for the media to work.
A horrendous downpour half an hour before the end of the 2 hour season opening race prompted a red flag, but the action was pretty good. Photographically it was as it should be. The detail work, the pitlane shots and the atmospheric images were great but at the end of the season I was shuffling through the keepers from that meeting going, “that wouldn’t make the cut now!”
The birth of a new championship is always a problematical thing. I only covered two rounds of the Prototype Series in 2016 due to clashes. The first I only got to because it was supporting another event I was covering. Still, the eight cars put on a good show and they sounded fantastic. Ill go into the photographic side of the meeting when I get to special events later in the review.
It was at Snetterton the series started to show a few cracks. The problem of catering to the Am end of the GT market is that car reliability can suffer. So can the urgency of repair work, we were missing the reigning champions after a shunt at the first round. Despite being run by the biggest owner of Ferrari’s outside of Italy, the #1 car couldn’t be fixed in the month and half between races.
Again, I was most impressed with my pit lane work at Snetterton but the action shots weren’t shocking. A rare clear May day in Norfolk provided some challenges but on the whole I was satisfied with the set.
Donington Park was the point at which the season started to sort itself out. The organisation was there, the on track action pretty good and the shooting was great. There were a couple of challenges where the circuit was being prepared to host the Download Festival a week later but I was very satisfied with the way this shoot worked out.
2016 was a year of firsts for me. The most shameful one was that I have never been to Thruxton. Just outside of Andover, its a significant distance from home so I wasn’t planning on doing it a week before going to Spa for British GT but I picked up my new car on the Friday and wanted to put a run on it so I headed down.
I was actually glad I did. Not only did we get to see some rather committed racing from the HSCC Motoring Classics Thoroughbred Racing Championship but we also witnessed some very brave GT racing too. Thruxton is very fast, with the GT cars pushing well over 160mph before hitting the brake pedal. It was a challenge re-adjusting to the fast pace, especially after shooting a bunch of MGBs which were determined but not as quick as a Mosler. Still, I got two very satisfactory sets from this meeting. Along with a £900 repair bill for the new car!
I wasn’t particularly eager to head to Donington for the Prototypes. A reduced grid left me with not a lot of work to do while I was there and I ended up spending quite a bit of time playing around on the infield, which was fully open for the first time in several years this time. To my shame I didn’t know until this meeting that there was actually a stately home in the background of the shot at Donington. I made the most of it while I could though.
Lots of long shots were the order of the day, playing with some of the history at Donington Park. I came away with a set that I love so I was very happy I opted to go.
Time for the round of the season I dread the most. I hate working out of the Silverstone Wing on a club meeting, especially one where the National circuit is also in use. Commentary was determined but drowned out by the noise of GT3 cars racing round the tarmac tundra which is Silverstone. Radio Silverstone was broadcasting the meeting on the National circuit, which to be honest held my attention better. It was trucks, but I was busy.
At least we had a decent entry, a few angles unique to the International circuit and the Heliport to play with. I came away with a set that was satisfactory, but nothing I really wanted to write home about.
When it comes to favorite racetracks in the UK, Oulton Park comes close to the top of the list for me. Its so photogenic, its a great mixture of fast and slow and it’s the other side of the Woodhead Pass from home. Even if the racing is rubbish, the drive home makes me smile.
It wasn’t a problem here though because the Britcar boys, bolstered by the addtion of the Rollcentre Mosler put on a symphony of colour, action and glorious V8 which thundered round the Cheshire countryside. The only blackspot on the day was the rain, which arrived big-time. As the good book puts it:
Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.
I only wish the lord had asked Noah to take care of my lenses too, because ten minutes into the Endurance Race, the Ark would have floated inside my 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L. £500 that cost to fix!
So while the round was a bit of a washout, both in terms of the track surface and the number of images, in terms of quality, I was actually very satisfied.
Brands is a special place. Night racing is a special type of racing. Night racing at Brands? Wild horses couldn’t keep me away. Despite the 400 mile round trip I was there bright and early and enjoyed covering the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Winter Series but the real focus of the action was the Endurance race into the night on Sunday.
Rain on Saturday hampered progress. All the shots in the darkness were misty because of the hanging water. On Sunday though the conditions were perfect, if a bit nippy. I love the set I produced at Brands. Its one of my favorite of the year.
After a year of covering ‘new’ Britcar, I’ve decided to move away from the championship I have covered since I first took up a pen, (or a laptop) all those years ago and focus on other championships for 2017. Britcar 2016 was not a vintage year to be sure but it showed progress. I may drop in on Britcar for a couple of rounds in 2017 but my experience this year gives me real hope for 2018 onwards.
Britcar Events in 2016
Including Endurance, Production and Prototype racing.
In our Archive.
With two different layouts at Silverstone.