FIFTY years of action at the North-East’s only motor racing circuit was celebrated in style with a weekend of nostalgic fun.
Croft Circuit, near Darlington, held its inaugural event, the Daily Mirror Trophy Meeting, on August 3, 1964.
Half a century on, the track was filled with the sights and sounds of the Sixties – and a few other vintage decades – again as the fifth annual Croft Nostalgia weekend took over, filling the paddock with historic vehicles, aerial displays and classic fashions.
The event had an added splash of glamour in the shape of rock legend Brian Johnson, the AC/DC front man, who took to the track in his Mini Cooper in the Historic Touring Car class.
Guests of honour at the weekend’s event were Jeremy Bouckley and Graham Birrell, who both took part in that original race 50 years ago.
Although Mr Birrell’s Ford Cortina GT was written off many years ago, Mr Bouckley was reunited with the Charlie Crichton-Stuart Cooper T59 he drove half a century ago.
Mr Birrell, 73, spoke of his love for a circuit he returned to many times as a touring car driver, where he also held the lap record.
The Scottish Borders native said: “I’m told I finished third in that first race at Croft although I don’t remember that. I came back many times and in 1969 I won seven touring car races here.
“I love this place, it’s a super circuit.”
Mr Bouckley, who was 19 when he raced at Croft in 1964, added: “Croft Nostalgia Weekend is like the Goodwood of the North.
“There’s a really laidback atmosphere and it’s lovely to see all the army vehicles and air displays.
“Croft has always been an enjoyable circuit to drive and it brings very happy memories being back here again.”
The weekend is one of the biggest nostalgia events in the north of England and one of the few in the country to combine vintage displays with historic vehicle racing.
Alice Widdows, one of the event organisers for the nostalgia side, said: “The exhibition space has been increased by 70 per cent this year. We’ve got people here from Darlington and people that have come from London and beyond.
“The whole vintage era is hugely popular at the moment and it’s great that we can bring something like this to Croft.”
Graham White, executive director of the Historic Sports Car Club, which organised the race meeting, said Croft was known as a ‘drivers circuit’, making it a very popular addition to the annual race calendar.
He added: “This track has had its ups and downs but it seems to be steady now. We’re delighted to be able to bring historic car racing here and support the only circuit in the North.”