In Photos: Europe's Coolest Vintage-Car Racing Event

The ninth annual Spa Classic was packed with amazing cars from start to finish.

Wouter Melissenwriter, photographer

Now in its ninth year, the annual Spa Classic is one of the absolute highlights on the European historic-racing calendar. Part of a series of classic motorsports events staged by French organizer Peter Auto, the Spa Classic offered virtually nonstop track action for three days, with the program running late into the evening on both Friday and Saturday. Split over eight different grids, the 339-cars-strong entry list featured sports cars, GTs, and touring cars from the early 1950s right through to the early 2010s. Among the set fixtures of the Peter Auto events are the legendary Group C cars of the 1980s and early 1990s, while a new addition is the Endurance Racing Legend field that is open to prototypes and GTs from the mid 1990s through to 2010.

Unique to the Spa Classic is the second Heritage Touring Cup (HTC) race held on Saturday evening. This race is a nod to the Spa 24 Hours, which was run for touring cars during the 1970s and 1980s. As was common during the period, the modern field was dominated by BMW 3.0 CSLs and 635CSi's, and Ford Escorts and Capris. An odd one out this year was the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro brought all the way from Sweden by Pekka Nystrom. Built to exact period specifications, it even featured additional driving lights that were identical to a Camaro that raced in the Daytona 24 Hours in period. Both the night race on Saturday and the daylight race on Sunday were won by BMW 3.0 CSLs.

Run into dusk was the Sixties' Endurance race for GTs of up to 1965 and sports cars of up to 1963. Thanks to a rain shower—so typical for the Spa-Francorchamps track—right before the start, this two-hour race proved particularly eventful. Traditionally, Shelby Cobras dominate this race and despite the tricky conditions, this year was no exception with the example driven by local racers Christophe van Riet and Thierry de Latre du Bosqueau taking the victory ahead of another Cobra, while Jon Minshaw finished third in his Jaguar E-Type despite an early spin.

The undisputed star of the weekend was undoubtedly the Gulf liveried Porsche 917K of Claudio Roddaro. In what is the 50th anniversary year of the legendary race car, this is one of the rare examples still raced in earnest. In the particularly strong Classic Endurance Racing 1 field, Roddaro did the 917's reputation justice by finishing fourth overall. Some of the other highlights on track included a howling Peugeot 905 Group C car, a pair of equally glorious sounding Aston Martin DBR9s, and fire-belching Porsche 934s and 935s.

Despite the dicey weather, the ninth annual Spa Classic attracted a record crowd of more than 20,000 spectators. Thanks to the very open and welcoming paddocks, the visitors could not only enjoy the historic racing cars on track but also admire them up close and personal. Hit the gallery above for your own tour of the amazing cars on display.

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