If watching Lewis Hamilton win his 4th championship title is a feature of your Sunday TV sport then this was also probably an event for you; read on! However, apart from being at Silverstone, any direct parallels with the high octane, multi million pound F1 probably ended there.
This was the 67th running of the Birkett Relay featuring a huge field of 70 teams each with a total of over 350 cars all battling it out as a relay event over 6 hours. From a barely souped-up mk1 mini to supercars with loads of horses under the bonnet there was a tremendous mix of cars, performance and variety to make the racing both entertaining for the spectators and highly challenging for the drivers. To make matters worse, the last team to finish was the crew from Top Gear which featured a big old Mercedes saloon and Rolls Royce as part of their team line up!
A truly unique event but especially notable for the girls as Matt Le Blanc strutted his stuff in the pit lane – much to the adulation of the spectators. But few were able to eclipse the British Army Motorsports (BAMA) entry led by Maj Darver Farard who managed to get a team snap with the TV Stars!
Team Army not only support BAMA with its several motorsport disciplines but also delivered the primary sponsorship for the event to allow TeamBRIT (British Racing Injured Troops) to enter two fun-cup cars into the race. With 6 drivers and two fun cup cars (VW Beatle — shaped) and a Caterham 7 it provided an inspiration for others to follow with carefully adapted cars catering for mental and physical disabilities.
Watched from the prestigious BRDC hospitality suite overlooking Luffield corner, it was a thrill for the ‘petrol heads’ amongst the Team Army sponsors, supporters and many with their enthusiastic youngsters to see the event unfold and even get into the pits with the teams and onto the pit wall. A great excitement and unique experience for many. Despite staying dry it was not short of thrills and spills as the race came to a close at 5.45pm with well over a 100 laps of the grand prix circuit completed. A handicap system designed to even out driver and car performance (a mystery to most!) it enabled the race to have competition to the end. With the event featuring as the annual Inter-Service competition for such racing, the BAMA boys encountered a number of unforeseen problems and did a remarkable job to turn the 2 remaining cars around through adversity to finish a highly respectable 11th overall, only 2 laps from the overall winner on handicap but nevertheless go home with many repairs to complete with engines, gearboxes and a car badly (and expensively) damaged — ouch! The overall winner of the race (and subsequent winner of the 2017 Inter-Services) was the RAF team who completed the same number of ‘scratch’ laps as the BAMA boys albeit 39secs quicker. Once the all important handicap was applied, the RAF team came 1st of 70 teams, 2 laps in front of the BAMA boys.
TeamBRIT were over the moon to complete the race unscathed and with a 58th placing from a field of over 70 (and a mere 7 laps behind the winning RAF team). Some 60 sponsors and military motor racing fans joined another 100+ sponsors, families and supporters for a tremendous day in the BRDC facilities. A big thank you must go to Carwood for stepping in to help sponsor the TeamBRIT entry and the day’s package.
OK, so it is not for everyone, but those who secretly wish they could be out there on the track and the youngsters who aspire to be the next Lewis, it was a great day to admire and cheer on the TeamBRIT achievement and enjoy a fabulous day ‘in the fast lane’ — or at least alongside!
Chris Humphries of Carwood joined by your roving reporter hands out some kindly donated Bose headphones to the drivers
The full team
The Team Army team
With kind thanks to Kingsize Photography and Usha Chadha for the images
Published: 30 October 2017