Guild Big Day Out returns to Castle Combe

The weather gods shed hardly a tear over Castle Combe on 13 April. They were not exactly doling out sunny smiles, either. But they at least allowed nearly 50 drivers, plus passengers, taking part in the Guild’s now-traditional Big Day Out track day to venture forth mainly in the dry.

For many, using relied-upon road cars, that can be a comfort on this gratifyingly sinuous, but fast and challenging circuit  nearby the Wiltshire village once voted England’s prettiest.

And what a colourful variety of cars was to be found taking part (to say nothing of the drivers).

New Guild member Lucia Forlini Cataldo, on her first track day but deadly serious about seeking tuition, in her diminutive Citroen C1; Cobra-mounted Chris Mann’s guest drivers Philip D’Archambaud in the mighty 1930s single-seat racer Bugatti T51 Pur Sang and Jeff Stow in his fabulous Aston Martin DBR 1 recreation; Richard Bremner cutting a dash in a rarely-seen Abarth 124; not least, Rob Marshall’s venerable Volvo 440. To which must be added several gaggles of MX-5s, Boxsters and Caymans.

And in the best spirit of the Guild’s BDO, how great it was that distinguished drivers such as Porsche maestro Nick Faure and Anthony Wilds (son of the legendary Mike, who was away testing) should pitch up entirely voluntarily to sit alongside and instruct those keen to learn on how to do it properly.

Despite each driver having an hour-and-a-half of available track time (split into several sessions) , happily this year no-one found him- or herself straying extensively – and expensively – into the Castle Combe scenery. Sadly, however, the wretched Covid also made its presence felt, accounting for almost half-a-dozen late no-shows from some of the BDO’s most popular driver regulars.

Missing this year, too, was the presence of our much-appreciated president, Nick Mason, whose close-of-play tea and reception at his home not far from ‘Combe’ has become a highlight of the ‘BDO’. This time Nick had to be away on delayed musical business (thanks again, pandemic), so the day finished at the circuit clubhouse instead. However, Nick has made clear that he fully intends to resume hospitality at Maison Mason next year.

Most definitely present, however, was Friend of the Guild and Suzuki GB’s Head of Press and PR, Alun Parry and his team, along with a small fleet of Suzuki models for drivers to test on nearby public roads when not otherwise engaged on the circuit. Alun and Suzuki have been consistent, stalwart supporters of the Guild and not least the BDO, of which they were, once again, sponsor – financing much of the circuit hire and catering. “It was good for us, too – the cars were in use pretty much all of the day”, Alun said afterwards.

Casting a fatherly eye over the whole event was our former Hon Sec, Chris Adamson, the committee member who has organised the BDO with consummate efficiency and attention to detail since its inception. Chris has now delegated it on, having set the tone and format for the event which should stand it in good future stead. The BDO regulars owe him many thanks.

John Griffiths
Photos: Jeff Bloxham