The 2021 Royal Automobile Club Historic Awards, held at the Club’s Pall Mall Clubhouse last night (25th November) celebrated outstanding achievements within the British historic motoring world. In a year in which live events were able to return, virtual initiatives started in 2020 evolved, and skilled craftsmen and women and dedicated, determined enthusiasts and organisations continued preserving and conserving our automotive history, there was a great deal to celebrate.
Impressive and diverse nominations received from across the UK were assessed by specialist panels of expert judges across a range of categories reflecting the breadth of this sector – as did the winners themselves. In addition, the Royal Automobile Club Lifetime Achievement Award was presented, in recognition of an individual who has, in the opinion of the Club, made an outstanding contribution to the British historic motoring movement across many years.
The Lifetime Achievement awardwas presented to John Grant, Chairman of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, a talented historic racer – he has campaigned Chevrons, mighty McLaren and Shadow CanAm cars and a Silk Cut Jaguar XJR9 – and former Chairman of the Motor Sport Association (now Motorsport UK). A lifelong enthusiast for all forms of four-wheeled sport, John spent most of his working life as a successful businessman, with directorships of Ford of Europe, the Ford Motor Company USA and Jaguar Cars, and has combined his considerable financial talents and management skills with his passion for the sport, to the benefit of all who share that passion.
David Tremayne – himself not unfamiliar with the world of speed record-breaking attempts – won the Outstanding Journalism category for ‘Donald Campbell: the man in the shadow’, an incisive profile of the land and water speed record-holder, written to coincide with what would have been his 100th birthday and published in Magneto magazine.
The winner of the Young Achiever award (supported by 1762 from Brewin Dolphin and StarterMotor), is 26-year-old Billy Earwicker, who demonstrated a passion and understanding of engineering from a very young age. Joining Project Shop at the age of 15, he soon displayed astounding talent for retaining information and a knack for creating his own tools, and his new role this year at Everrati showcases his knowledge of classics in a new EV setting.
The multi-talented Reverend Adam Gompertz, Station Chaplain for Bicester Heritage and founder of the online (and now ‘real world’) REVS-Limiter community, has gone above and beyond the extra mile of his job description, in continuing to work tirelessly to engage people with new ideas and bring communities together and help others, and the judges felt that he was thoroughly deserving of receiving the Personality award (supported by NET-HERO).
The judges in the Competitive Event category (supported by A. Lange & Söhne) had a superb selection of events large and small to choose from. The award went to the ‘bonkers but brilliant’ Longstone Tyres Light Car Race, with judges noting that ‘speeds may have been low but the enjoyment factor among VSCC participants and spectators was sky high. This was a great idea, superbly executed – pure magic!’
The Motoring Spectacle winner wasthe Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional, the judges commenting ‘Not only does such a gathering of the mundane create a wonderful spectacle, but it captures the zeitgeist of the classic world, introducing legions of new fans to the joys of owning old cars. Affordable, accessible and inclusive, this event turns the everyday into the extraordinary.’
The Collection award (supported by Footman James) was won by the Silverstone Interactive Museum, now the pre-eminent display of Grand Prix cars and the stories behind them in the UK. It is, however, much more than that, with its emphasis on involving its visitors – especially the young – in that story through interactive presentations particularly praised by the judges.
The award for Restoration (supported by Bicester Heritage) went to a unique vehicle, the 1979 Aston Martin Bulldog. The judges cited its remarkable ‘against the odds’ original story, from the lost years of the car’s mistreatment and disappearance in the Middle East, to its rescue by Phillip Sarofim working with Richard Gauntlett, son of former Aston Martin Chairman Victor, and the painstaking work by Classic Motor Cars to not just restore Bulldog but also to prepare it for 200mph speed runs, as originally planned back in 1979.
Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, said: “These awards are now a key date in the Club’s busy Motoring calendar and continue our rich heritage of rewarding the achievements of pioneers, champions and all forms of excellence.
The standard of entries this year has been quite remarkable, and I’m again especially impressed by the nominations for the Young Achiever Award – it really does give me confidence that the preservation and guardianship of our historic vehicles are in safe hands.
I would like to extend a huge congratulations to John Grant, Chairman of the British Racing Drivers’ Club for winning the Lifetime Achievement Award – John’s contribution to all types of motorsport and motoring has been outstanding and it’s a pleasure to be awarding it to someone that has played such a pivotal role within the industry.”
Royal Automobile Club Lifetime Achievement Award: John Grant, Chairman of the British Racing Drivers’ Club Outstanding Journalism: David Tremayne – Donald Campbell, the man in the shadow (Magneto) Young Achiever (supported by 1762 from Brewin Dolphin and StarterMotor): Billy Earwicker Personality (supported by NET-HERO): The Reverend Adam Gompertz Competitive Event (supported by A. Lange & Söhne): The Longstone Tyres Light Car Race (VSCC) Motoring Spectacle: Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional Collection (supported by Footman James): Silverstone Interactive Museum Restoration (supported by Bicester Heritage): 1979 Aston Martin Bulldog (Classic Motor Cars/Phillip Sarofim)