Alex Brundle storms to victory at Brands Hatch Historic Festival

Brands was packed with people who want to spend their weekends setting up, building, restoring and then racing their classic racing cars flat out. There were so many interesting people there who are just unapologetically pursuing their passion which is something that made for quite a cool environment to be in. With so much cancelled this year I think everybody was kind of snatching the opportunity to go and race their classic cars in front of a crowd who they can interact with. 

The racing – from pre-1950s Grand Prix cars all the way through to early 80s F1 cars – was pretty serious. You had manufacturer level sports car drivers going flat out in well prepared classics. It wasn’t the type of historic racing I’d been told about in the past which is a few passionate amateurs turning up, screwing bits onto their cars and whoever doesn’t break down wins the race. You’re talking about teams that are taking data acquisition and working hard with an engineering team to make themselves quicker. It all looks funky; 60s and 70s chic but actually underneath it all there’s a massive amount of technical work going on and driving talent quietly on show.

I was racing a Jaguar E-Type and a Lola T70 MkIIIB across the weekend. The E-Type when I first drove it in testing just felt utterly disconnected from the racetrack, but I am slowly beginning to understand what it takes to be a GT pro of yesteryear! The main challenge of driving it was trying to keep hold of the brakes – something which I never even think about in a modern racing car. Mostly in prototypes you have carbon disc brakes and they don’t overheat at all. They barely wear! And you never even think about them over a 24-hour race. Well we were doing a 90-minute race in the E-Type and let me tell you 25 minutes in, I was fully in tune with the preservation of the stopping materials! 


We were up against some big V8 Daytona Cobras and two TVR Griffiths so our plucky straight six E-type was missing a pair of cylinders. It was good fun to mix it with them and although we just missed out on the podium by coming fourth it was a good start for me in terms of historic racing.

The Lola felt a bit more ‘normal’. It’s a 1969 car and back then they didn’t know anything about safety and crash structures, so no need to add them! As a result it’s incredibly light. It’s only 800 kilos in comparison to a modern prototype which is 900-plus. It just felt flighty, nimble and slightly fragile until you got on the power. The engine has so much grunt you can feel it straining against the chassis.

It was a mega result to win in the Lola. The engineering of Andy Brown and the Pearson Engineering guys have put together a car that’s absolutely mega to be honest. I was absolutely in my element in that thing. I could throw it around and we had the speed at the front. In many ways though the performance in the E-Type was more rewarding because it was a real step into the unknown for me in terms of understanding how a car that old performs over a race distance.

It’s probably the most fun I’ve had for a long time in a race car driving those two beasts around Brands Hatch GP. It’s a really good place to go and do that kind of thing. You’ve got the grass and the gravel trap; it’s quite old school and will remain so, as there’s no space around it to build those big wide runoffs. It’s incredibly immersive, white lines kerbs and historic cars in your line of sight really teleports you back, an engaging experience. If it was down to me I’d have all of the race tracks like that but that’s another story. 

So did the experience come in handy?

Well, I was back to the carbon fibre stuff in Paul Ricard for the European Le Mans series this week and I had a moment in the modern car, which, you don’t have in any historic car but required totally the same mindset – a power steering failure. The young driver in me wanted to throw my hands in the air and park on the side of the track but because I’d been in the classics I remembered you can do a full electronic reset from the main dashboard which cured the issue so we could continue with the race. I wouldn’t have been in the mindset to fix issues on the fly and save that modern car unless I’d been in a classic car just a week before. So my team-mates can thank the 60’s machinery for keeping us in the race!

I’ve now got two weekends of Formula 2 commentary before I go to Le Mans and then the next event of this historic programme at the Spa 6 hours. I’ll be announcing the cars I’m driving over the next few weeks. The Lola is a classic Le Mans car so I’ve won one race in a Le Mans classic and now I need to go and win it for real in a modern Prototype. It’s going to be difficult with no crowd there but it’s the first time in two or three years where I really feel I have the package to win the race in our class. Guess I’ll have to drive it all night and find out!

Alex Brundle and Adrian Flux

Alex teamed up with specialist motor insurance broker Adrian Flux this year thus extending the company’s portfolio of prestige sporting sponsorships and associations.

If you’re lucky enough to drive a car similar to these two which have set Alex’s pulse racing, you’ll be looking for a rather special insurance deal too. Adrian Flux is famed for its sensible and tailored approach to quoting policies and you can call 0808 503 9920 for a quote or book a call back at a time that suits you. 

It’s cheaper by phone: 81.5% of customers receiving an online quote in August 2022 could have obtained a cheaper deal if they had called (based on information they provided).

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