In late February the quiet town of Stoneleigh comes alive with the sound of performance exhausts and screeching tyres. Race Retro’s annual car show sees two halls showcase some of the most iconic and successful race cars ever to grace the track (and gravel). Not content with just having the cars on display, Race Retro provide a full rally stage for the keen spectator and a Silverstone Auction house for the avid collector.
Race Retro typically attracts 24,000 people through the doors of Stoneleigh Park across a 3-day event. Essentially split across 3 exhibition halls, Race Retro is geared more to the racing enthusiast than the average petrol head. Whilst there are of course stalls that will interest everyone, motorsport is the focus here and there’s no shortage of disciplines on display.
Behind The Scenes – Championship Winning Rally Cars
The event features everything from the modest go kart, to some of the most famous world championship winning rally cars, and vintage F1 cars, mainly produced and engineered through British teams and manufacturers. It’s a fantastic place to see what Britain has to offer in the world of motorsport and to peruse the opportunities available to indulge your passion, be that an arrive and drive experience or taking part in a full series with the help of groups like 750 Motorsports Club.
Race Retro offers plenty of diversity across the motor sport genre. There is something for every enthusiast regardless of their particular interest or pastime. The event offers brilliant opportunities for people on all rungs of the motorsport ladder.
With the nuts and bolts for all manner of vehicles available to buy for the seasoned mechanic there are plenty of stalls offering the latest equipment available to not just fix your vehicle, but improve it too. Industry experts are on hand at their respective stalls and keen to divulge their knowledge.
Everything is under one roof at Race Retro. Those with a passion for the sport purely as a spectator or anyone looking to get started as a driver or engineer will have plenty of chances to speak to those in the know. From groups like 750 MC and the MG Car Club on hand to help get your first full season underway to Rallying With Group B who offer experience days (and a ride on the race retro rally stage). There’s also sim racing available, talks and interviews from champions such as David Llewellin and Jason Plato and arrive and drive opportunities.
Silverstone Auctions – Going Once, Going Twice
Silverstone Auctions are a significant contributor to the event and are able to showcase a huge selection of some of the rarest, most coveted performance vehicles, all of which are auctioned off through the weekend. One of the surprise standouts being a low mileage Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 selling for well over its guide price, at over £500,000.
With space at a premium, the layout of Race Retro is utilised to maximum effect. The live stage is an example where this works particularly well. Being tucked away in the far corner the crowds and audio volume don’t intrude on the other stalls whilst maintaining a significant yet intimate environment with the speakers. It allows for a fantastic opportunity to hear the likes of Jason Plato and Louise Aitken-Walker talk candidly about their time at the very top of British motorsport.
Reliving Past Glory – Incredible Rally Icons On Show
Heading outside to the ground of Stoneleigh Park and you’ll most likely be met by a rally car roar of exhaust and backfire as Race Retro’s party piece is just around the corner. Walk past the paddock to get up close and personal with some truly iconic vehicles, such as Richard Burn’s Mitsubishi Lancer and Colin McCrae’s famous Ford Focus. These aren’t replicas, they’re the real deal and ready to thrash it out across a purpose built rally stage.
It’s great to see these cars on display, to learn the history of them, get a look inside the cockpit and compare them to the photographs and videos seen a thousand times before. It takes it to another level to see them in their natural setting, the environment they were created to thrive in. It’s so important to inspire the next generation and as with historic air shows, starting these vehicles up is the absolute best way to keep their legacy alive.
The crowds that flock to see these machines out on track are a testament to how special they are and Race Retro bring them to life brilliantly by arranging and encouraging them back out into the environment they’re designed for. It’s a rare opportunity to see a Lancia Stratos squeezing between hay bales at the best of times but out on the track with the Impreza’s, the modern WRC Skodas and Fiestas and everything in between, is a sight to behold.
Hidden Gems To Impress The Crowds
Car shows can sometimes feel like they come thick and fast throughout the year, so it’s important for each event to make their mark on the motorsport scene and stand out from the crowd. Race Retro have managed to create and maintain a truly formidable position in the field to become one of the top motorsport shows in the country, and arguably further afield. It competes well with other larger shows at bigger exhibition halls such as the NEC. Stoneleigh might be a smaller venue but it is packed to the rafters and feels all the better for it. An annual event for every motor sport devotees diary.