On the first weekend of August, Bellahøj in Copenhagen was once again turned into the cradle of Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix with hundreds of historic racecars – both on the tight street circuit and displayed on the infield.
While the full and correct name of this amazing race event is Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix, us Danes simply call it CHGP. We’ve had the privilege of enjoying these epic battles on a street circuit in the midst of Copenhagen ever since the first historic race meet in 1996. It’s pedal to the metal regardless of how old and valuable these racecars are, which of course only adds to the excitement. Needless to say, ViaRETRO were there throughout the weekend – possibly more than you had imagined too, as our very own Claus Ebberfeld’s presence was felt – or at least heard – through his role as the official speaker for the racing. In the meantime, my better half, Gitte, and myself toured the track and infield with our photo gear trying to capture both the action and the excellent atmosphere – not least in ViaRETRO’s camp which is always a popular meeting point.
But let’s start with the paddock where the mechanics spanner away, the drivers prepare psychologically and all the spectators gawk and dream.
Every part of the circuit could be viewed thanks to plentiful numbers of screens.
Of all the cars battling it out on the circuit, I was awfully impressed by the pre-61 Grand Prix cars, and especially by the Bugatti T59/50D from 1938, which was developed as a counterstrike to the progressive racers from both Auto-Union and Mercedes-Benz. Yet the suspension was really – even then – rather antic with its live front axle.
Competing in the same class was the wonderful Scarab from 1960, developed by the half-Dane, Lance Reventlow. Just like the Bugatti, it too was really quite dated from the word go, with its front-mounted Offenhauser 4-cylinder engine, where all its competitors were sporting mid-mounted engines.
But the pre-76 class proved just as exciting. This was largely thanks to the participating Mk1 and Mk2 Ford Escorts and not least those sat behind the steering wheels. It’s truly astonishing what they can make achieve from those humble saloons.
Not that the others weren’t highly capable as well. Just look at these fabulous examples from the hard-fought pre-65 class, with amongst others the frighteningly sexy Ford GT40 bearing number 6 and Dane, Karsten Ree, behind the wheel.
And then there was of course the customary andoh-so-popular Royal Pro / Am race, where race cars are shared between professional and amateur drivers. This is where we get to enjoy our very own Prince Joachim in his Lotus Cortina, but by this point both my legs and my ears needed a rest at the ViaRETRO campsite.
This year’s ViaRETRO campsite perfectly reflected all that ViaRETRO is and promotes: Diversity. Classic cars of varying origin, age, type and marque – but with a true passion as our common ground. The ViaRETRO campsite also had its own screen where we could follow the racing while relaxing and conversating among good friends. Saturday evening, ViaRETRO even hosted an excellent dinner, expertly overseen by reader “MichaelV8”. You would have to search long and hard for a more pleasant atmosphere…
Among the other campsites and exhibitors were also several car clubs such as the Ford Club, the Lancia Club, the Porsche Club, the Volvo P1800 club and several others.
And Sommer’s Automobile Museum were there too with an old Bentley and Keld Hansen’s old championship winning SAAB 96.
But I’ll allow myself to be critical as well, as I frankly fail to see what was achieved by DTC and Legends Cup being present at CHGP. There’s nothing historic about either race series and they were certainly at odds with the rest of the concept. Was it merely a means of creating a fuller program for the weekend and thereby hoping for more spectators? Perhaps. But then the same question could rightfully be asked about some of the big exhibitor stands on the infield which were crammed with brand new cars. At least KIA had the decency to offer some entertainment for the younger drivers.
A champagne bar was placed just outside the paddocks – another excellent place to hang out for a while. On the resulting heady mix of French bubbles and high-octane fumes, it was all too easy to get lost among the trade stalls offering appropriately themes clothing or another diecast model for the collection. I’m quite sure that the champagne also helped these two beauties appreciate the classic car scene more than they usually would.
CHGP is a bouillon cube of sights, smells, sounds and action from the enticing world of historic motorsport. There’s plenty on tap to keep you entertained for the full weekend, though I suppose some of those who live on the streets used for the circuit may have a different perspective on the matter. Still, as we entered the grounds we were offered earplugs which I politely rejected to ensure I got the full fat experience.
Make sure to reserve the 3rdand 4thof August next year for an action-packed weekend in Copenhagen. You could even join us on the ViaRETRO campsite for the best atmosphere in town!