British Classics Track Day

Article content: Our man in the UK who’s sort of like the Stig, but not nearly as fast, and he’s called Dave, gets the chance to drive an Aston Martin DB4, Lotus Cortina and Jaguar E type series 1 fixed head coupe.

Goodwood is one of the fastest circuits in the UK, but having driven the circuit before in my Caterham 7 on track days I knew it well and had my adrenalin fix before, so my day at Mithril Racing was about rekindling memories of yesteryear, mechanical sensitivity, and enjoying these amazing historic analog motoring icons.

My first drive was in the Aston Martin DB4 which looked like it had just come out of the restorers workshop which surprised me as they must lead a hard life. The same can be said about all the cars there. After trying to find the bite point on the clutch, I chugged away through the paddock, and was waved onto the circuit by a marshal, and gave it some beans. The noise from the engine was a soul stirring 6 cylinder howl, which dominated the whole experience, and made you smile.

British Classics Track Day - Aston Martin DB4 on track
Aston Martin DB4 on track

These cars pull from very low revs, so only third and fourth gears are used (on a 4 speed gearbox!) and the brakes don’t have to work too hard, as there is only one big stop, coming up to the chicane, with the other corners being taken with just a lift of the throttle and a light application of brakes.

It was interesting to be told the correct line to take, and I was surprised how well the car behaved, as she is a 50 year old tourer, not a sports car.

Not once was I told to slow down, in fact I was encouraged to go faster by taking the correct line, braking before the corner, and applying power through the bends.

Next car up was the Lotus Cortina, which had a much smaller 4 cylinder engine, but also weighed a lot less. What it lacked in aural drama it made up for by being a lot faster than the DB4 everywhere, even down the straights and generally felt more at home on a circuit, with less lean on the corners, lighter steering, and a faster revving engine.

British Classics Track Day - Lotus Cortina on track
Lotus Cortina on track

Last car was a dark green, series 1 E type fixed head coupe. I had a series 1 1/2 back in the day and it’s the one I had been most looking forward to driving. Just sitting in it filled my with pleasure, looking down that impossibly long bonnet, and feeling the skinny wooden rimmed wheel in my hands. I had worried that I would be disappointed with the drive, and that my recollections had a rose tinted aura about them, but as soon as we were under way, all fears disappeared. As you creep out onto the circuit, and then give it some throttle, the front rises slightly, with the rear pushing the tyres into the track, and you are assailed by a wonderfully smooth 6 cylinder sound as she gathers speed at quite a rate. The gear change was lovely and slick, and I was soon going at a respectable lick, with the corners taken at an enthusiastic rate, with encouragement coming from the Mithril instructor. The car feels from a different era to the DB4, which felt post war, but the E type felt modern, and could still be driven in today’s traffic without worry, even though they were both contemporaries.

British Classics Track Day - Jaguar E Type on track followed by Lotus Cortina
Jaguar E Type on track followed by Lotus Cortina

I had driven down to the circuit in my Seven, so had a warm, dry drive home to look forward to, with very little traffic on some of the best roads around, but before we set off home, we visited a local pub to have dinner and a soft drink.

Maybe next time I will try the Ford Mustang GT350, or the D Type, or the 911 RS or the….


Here’s a few select pictures from the day: