The Castle Combe Autumn Classic takes place on the Sunday of the first weekend in October. On that same weekend in 2011, the Bristol Motor Club, in partnership with the National Trust, organised the SPIRIT OF THE 60s, a tribute to the Dyrham Park hillclimbs that the club used to run five decades earlier.
Not only did the event celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Dyrham Park Speed Hillclimb, it also marked 50 years since the National Trust took over the running of the Estate. These two anniversaries happened to coincide with the club’s celebration of its Centenary.
Many of the cars on display were the same ones that took part in the original hillclimb. They performed demonstration runs up the historic drive, watched by a record crowd of over 5000 spectators, all eager to experience again the sight and sound of motorsport in the Park. It was a nostalgic and emotional reunion between drivers, their cars, and the unique atmosphere of Dyrham Park.
All involved were hoping that the event would be repeated in 2012, but it soon became apparent that it did not fit in with the National Trust’s plans for major renovation of the house and park. Rodney Gooch, Castle Combe’s Marketing Director, came to the rescue by inviting Bristol MC to stage a smaller-scale display as part of the Autumn Classic race meeting. It was to feature many of the cars of the type that took part in the 1960s event – to embody the essential Dyrham Park Speed Hillclimb.
The display has fitted so well with the Autumn Classic theme, and is so popular with spectators and participants alike, that it has become something of a permanent fixture on the calendar.
Allen Harris handed over the organisation to his successor as chairman of Bristol MC, Matt Nichols, who may be contacted by email, or phone 07989 601774.