The 2019 Hungaroring Classic

Wet conditions created challenge and spectacle
Photo Credit: Wouter Melissen

The 2019 Hungaroring Classic

Wet conditions created challenge and spectacle
Photo Credit: Wouter Melissen

After visits to the Chantilly Arts & Elegance and Goodwood Festival of Speed, we ended our three-weekend marathon through Europe at the Hungaroring, just east of the Hungarian capital of Budapest. The occasion was the second edition of the Hungaroring Classic. The inaugural event in 2017 was the first-ever major historic race held in a country that was once behind the Iron Curtain. Once again, the 2019 Hungaroring Classic was a joint production between local organizers and French specialist, Peter Auto.

In the 2019 season, Peter Auto presents a familiar grid of sports and touring cars competing in a six-round championship. At this stop, local staff not only provided the volunteer assistance required at the farthest location on the calendar, they also helped attract a huge crowd of 45,000 spectators. During breaks, 780 cars owned by enthusiasts took to the track. We saw everything from a Gullwing Mercedes to Skodas to hot rods, providing a wide array of cars to suit every taste.

Claudio Roddaro, in his mighty Porsche 917 K at The 2019 Hungaroring Classic

The man of the hour, Claudio Roddaro, in his mighty Porsche 917 K

We were not the only ones making the European round trip to these distinctly different events. Monegasque racer Claudio Roddaro participated in all three events with a Gulf-liveried Porsche 917 K. Celebrating the 917’s 50th anniversary with great style, he showed the car at Chantilly and even completed the rally on public roads. He then demonstrated the Porsche at Goodwood Festival of Speed before entering it in the hotly disputed Classic Endurance Racing 1 competition at the Hungaroring. After running the car on public roads, over speed bumps that seemed impossibly high, Roddaro told us that he thought the nuts and bolts had shaken loose to the point that he would not be competitive at the Hungaroring. His performance proved to be far more than competitive — he won against the lighter Chevron B19s that were much better suited to the tight Hungaroring Circuit. Roddaro claimed his third victory in four attempts this year, providing the most fitting celebration of the 917’s golden anniversary.

Smith and Cottingham’s Cobra, winner of the The Sixties' Endurance Race at The 2019 Hungaroring Classic

Smith and Cottingham’s Cobra, winner of the The Sixties’ Endurance Race

A set fixture of the Peter Auto weekends is the Sixties’ Endurance race. It is a two-hour race with a mandatory five-minute pit-stop for GT and sports cars from the 1950’s and early 1960’s. During spring and autumn, the Sixties’ Endurance Race begins in the late afternoon and runs into sunset, but on a July date there was plenty of daylight after the checkered flag fell. Daylight wasn’t the only challenge, however, Friday and Saturday both saw wet conditions. Fortunately, the rain didn’t slow the pairing of Andrew Smith and James Cottingham, who won the race handsomely. The pair claimed victory in striking bright blue Shelby Cobras, which were driven by all five top finishers.

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Perhaps the most evocative of all Peter Auto grids is for Group C and GTP cars. These prototype racers of the 1980’s and early 90’s are among the very last sports racers built to relatively lenient regulations. They combined sophisticated ground-effect aerodynamics with mighty engines that were fuel-limited only. Not surprisingly, these Group C machines are expensive and complicated to run, resulting in a grid of just nine cars at the Hungaroring. They nevertheless provided quite the spectacle, with beautiful ground-effect-induced rooster tails during a wet qualifying session and a 45-minute race that saw the first and second place cars finishing nose-to-tail across the finish line.

 
1970's and 80's BMW and Ford at The 2019 Hungaroring Classic

The Heritage Touring Cup for 1970’s and 80’s touring cars relives the great BMW-Ford rivalry and provides a particularly spectacular field

Spread over seven different grids, the Hungaroring Classic managed to attract a total of 170 historic racing cars, an impressive figure considering the travel distance for most teams and a date that coincided with summer holidays. Next up for Peter Auto is the Monza Classic in September. Whether there will be another Hungaroring Classic in two years is still uncertain, but we’ll remain hopeful.

 

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