Riding shotgun in a BTCC Jaguar MkI for what are meant to be parade laps takes on an unexpectedly wild turn, especially when Rickard Rydell and Jason Plato appear...
Silverstone Circuit is soaking wet and Anthony Reid is driving. These two elements alone mean that jumping into the passenger-side leather bucket seat of a 1959 Jaguar Mk1 British Touring Car just to do some filming for the Silverstone Classic isn’t going to be a tame experience. Excellent.
That hunch is proved correct, as Reid powers out of the pits beneath The Wing and passes both the yellow Rover Vitesse and ex-Alan Minshaw BMW E30 M3 before dropping the Mk1 into formation on the entry into Village.
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At which point Reid welds his right foot to the car’s bulkhead to induce a massive slide, much to the delight of his passenger/AutoClassics' stand-in crash-test dummy. Thanks to a liberal dose of opposite lock, the Mk1 comes to heel as we continue past a Ford Mustang and the sweet sounding BDA-powered Alan Mann Escort also in the 60th anniversary display. The nose of the Jag responds well, despite the car’s weight and the poor conditions.
The media day is sticking on the smaller International Circuit so, instead of powering down Wellington Straight, the track takes a sharp downhill right before exiting onto Hangar Straight. Again, Reid tries to deliberately provoke the rear-axle with another stab of throttle.
But a puddle of standing water exaggerates the car’s rotation and the 1998 British Touring Car Championship runner-up is flailing at the wheel to stop a seemingly inevitable spin. He keeps the car pointing in vaguely the right direction, but the momentum of the sudden change in direction again sends his passenger lurching around the cabin. This is greeted with applause.
It’s at this point Reid’s smile widens and he says, ‘Well, there’s only one thing worse than being talked about…’. His exuberant charge up the field isn’t just about getting the Justin Laws-prepared car to the front of the photoshoot, though. As Reid pulls to the right of the track he draws alongside the Volvo S40 Super Tourer.
In the driver’s seat is 1998 title sparring partner and champion Rickard Rydell. A glance is exchanged between the two, and while one car maybe 30 years out of context and the two drivers are now good friends, it feels very authentic. Before now, the closest to recreating their season-long duel was on a dusted off copy of TOCA 2. This now takes some beating.
After half a lap of tailing Jason Plato in the current Team BMR Subaru Levorg and rotating with the rest of the BTCC line-up for photos, Reid wants more fun. The congested track means he runs wide on the exit of Club and over the kerb as he catches yet more hilarious oversteer.
There’s a brief fumble as the wipers are required in the spray by which time the Escort, M3 and Vitesse are all back through. It’s just a filming day, there’s no competitive element – well there’s not meant to be anyway.
Reid again runs the car off circuit while sliding, stepping up the pace to regain the lost positions. He slots into place behind Rydell and Plato. But after a momentary hesitation, Reid powers by and then past the camera van. The added speed combined with the next-to-no-grip track results in masses of understeer while navigating Chapel to rejoin the Hangar Straight again, this time the rear end only protests a little.
At this point Reid settles back into order so that the rest of the formation flying for the camera can be completed. If the abundance of oversteer and general boisterousness is his idea of contributing to a piece of filming then it’s no surprise Top Gear drafted him in so often for stunt driving.
Although a keen and in-demand historic racer, Le Mans podium finisher Reid is now 61-years-old and a grandfather. But no-one seems to have told him that – he has little sense of self-preservation. In this case, that’s brilliant.
Images courtesy of Jakob Ebrey, Silverstone Classic and LAT