This August’s Lotus Festival at Brands Hatch (24/25 August) will mark 50 years of the Lotus Cortina. Celebrations will include a special race for the all-conquering touring car classic on the full Grand Prix circuit.
The Lotus Cortina was the first of a successful series of collaborations between Colin Chapman’s sportscar marque and Ford in the 1960s that included Formula 1 and the Indy 500. Instigated by Ford’s visionary executive Walter Hayes, Cortina bodyshells were sent to Lotus, where Twin Cam engines were installed and suspension modifications were made.
The car was duly homologated in September 1963, and in the same month had its first outing in the Oulton Park Gold Cup. Lotus Cortinas finished third and fourth, while the following year saw a string of successes on the National and International stage, culminating with Jim Clark’s easy win of the British Saloon Car Championship and Sir John Whitmore’s achievements on the European stage with an Alan Mann-prepared car.
Success also followed on the rally stages, whilst the coveted road-going cars were snapped up by those inspired by Clark’s exploits on the UK’s circuits. A Cortina cornering sideways with a front wheel cocked in the air became a familiar sight in the mid-60s motorsport world and it helped propel Ford to the top of the sales charts.
A huge field of spectacular action from a Cortina-only grid will form the centrepiece of this August’s Lotus Festival, with two races joining a packed race programme. Other activities will include Classic Team Lotus F1 displays and demonstrations, rally demos, a trade village, music concerts, club gatherings, air displays and more. Owners of both road and race Lotus Cortinas all over the world are invited to take part in displays and parades at the event.
Carol Spagg of race organiser Historic Motor Racing said: “We had 28 Cortinas on a 60-car grid at Silverstone last year and the crowd went wild to see them racing wheel to wheel! This year’s one-off race will give us the opportunity to have a record-breaking number of Lotus Cortinas all racing together on the long Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. It is bound to be popular with drivers and spectators.”
Paul Golding of Lotus Festival organiser LoTRDC added: “Lotus Cortinas are an integral part of the Lotus history. We are thrilled to be able to invite all Lotus Cortinas to join us, both on track and for display, to a memorable anniversary weekend celebration for these great cars.”
David Willey, Motorsport Events Manager at MotorSport Vision said, “We are privileged to have this opportunity to host the Lotus Cortinas for their anniversary party. Brands Hatch has a great history when it comes to Lotus Cortina racing, and I’m sure everyone attending the Lotus Festival will be looking forward to this great spectacle, and seeing the cars go wheel-to-wheel around the famous Grand Prix circuit.”
Owners wishing to take part in the races should contact Historic Motor Racing at [email protected] or call +41 (0)44 450 2370. Tickets for the Lotus Festival at Brands Hatch on 24/25 August are available by calling 0843 453 9000 or visiting www.brandshatch.co.uk