Aintree Circuit Club

You can relive a bit of British Grand Prix history – in just about any car you like

Whether your car is a MINI or a 911 - it can take part in events at Aintree circuit

IT’S NOT often that you can say a Fiat Stilo is as good at something as a Porsche 911 is – but then it’s not every day that parts of the old Aintree race circuit are opened up for go-faster fun.

No, not that Aintree circuit – if you’ve ended up here by mistake because you’re actually looking for The Champion sports pages then I’m afraid to say that there are no jockeys, highly decorated ladies’ hats or whinnying thoroughbreds here. Nope, this particular course is the one famed for racing of the motor variety, including the very first British Grand Prix won by Sir Stirling Moss. He tackled it in a single-seater Mercedes W196 – but if you wanted to follow in his tyre tracks last weekend then all you needed was a racing helmet and a secondhand hatchback.

Liverpool Motor Club holds a couple of track days a year on the surviving bits of the track – and for a fiver to spectate I reckon it’s a bargain-priced way of spending a couple of hours listening to screeching tyres and watching all manner of motors scrabbling for the best lines through the sweeping right-handers. I popped along last Saturday during the Bank Holiday weekend and the thing that surprised me was the mind-boggling variety of what was out on track. Sure, you’d expect Elises, 911s and Honda Type-Rs on a track day, but I wasn’t expecting the next car to barrel into the first corner to be an 05-registered Fiat Stilo. Or a TVR Tuscan virtually unchanged from when it took part in the bonkers Tuscan Challenge race series 20 years ago. Or an Opel Manta, for that matter.

It’s good, old-fashioned car-related fun that doesn’t get hung up on who’s got the priciest entry or the quickest lap time – there was a chap with a Lister ‘Knobbly’ continuation racer, for instance, but the chaps taking part in Ford Fiestas had equally big grins on their faces after venturing back into the paddock.

More importantly, it keeps part of the North West’s motoring heritage alive – yes, I know that the full Aintree circuit that Sir Stirling would’ve diced with Fangio on closed in the 1960s, but by having Porsches and Lotuses screeching around the club circuit it keeps the idea that Aintree isn’t just about horse racing in the wider public imagination.

And any element of keeping history that involves hoofing about in a Fiat Stilo has got to be worth it for the amusement factor alone. Count me in.

Why closed roads motor sport would be a win for West Lancashire

I WOULD love to see the day that Lord Street in Southport – which is almost exactly, give or take a few yards, a mile long – is used as a drag strip.

Before you start hammering the keyboard with an indignant email to The Champion’s letters page, expressing your outrage at the sheer stupidity of an elegant shopping thoroughfare being temporarily used for such a low-brow, knuckle-dragging excuse for a weekend’s fun, it’s worth pointing out that Brighton’s been using its seafront for just such a purpose for decades.

What’s more, it’s been much easier to do this sort of thing legally for about two years, since the Government introduced a law allowing event organisers to temporarily close off public roads and use them for motorsport. At the time it was even championed by David Cameron (remember him?), but very few people have taken advantage of it.

But – if a conversation I had the other day with the organisers of the Ormskirk MotorFest was anything to go by – Aintree Circuit Club could be about to. It’s already proven with its annual visit to Ormskirk that people (roughly 15,000 of them, if official counts are anything to go by) are more than happy to watch E-types and Ferraris doing laps of a one-way system, but now it wants to up the stakes and have a fully-fledged, competitive event where cars will really be able to strut their stuff.

It’s not been decided where such an event should take place – although it’s likely to be somewhere a bit quieter than Ormskirk’s one-way system, for all sorts of logistical reasons – but I reckon a properly managed, safety-assessed bit of driving against the clock would be a great way of putting the North West on the petrolhead map. Remember I said that very few people have actually used that change in the law? A couple of event organisers down south and over in North Wales have put their own events on rather successfully, but the only comparable example I can think of is the Coventry MotoFest, which used parts of the city’s ring road for timed sprints. From what I gather, it was a big hit, but there’s nothing in this part of the world that’s comparable.

I can see all sorts of applications (and, if you’re the shy and sensitive type, I suggest you skip this bit and go straight to the Sports page). Half Mile Island in Skem would be perfect – would it possible, given sufficient skill and a tuned Nissan 370Z, to drift it in its entirety in front of a mesmerised audience? Or what about Parbold? The Parbold Hill Climb has a lovely ring to it – in yer face, Shelsley Walsh!

Obviously, I fully suspect that anything that does materialise will be at least a little bit more sensible (and fully risk assessed, of course). But anyone does have a valid economic case for closing off Lord Street for the afternoon – and a burning desire to find out whether a Nissan GT-R would be quicker than a 911 GT3 RS in a straight line – just tell them that I sent you…