VSCC Winter Driving Tests - a synergy between the past and the future
On Saturday (2nd December) we attended the annual Vintage Sports-Car Club (VSCC) Winter Driving Tests at Bicester Heritage. Although the VSCC focuses on celebrating heritage it is also working to preserve the future of the events, the cars themselves and the industry surrounding them. Two key factors that they are addressing are environmental impacts and participation of young people.
The VSCC Driving Tests have been run multiple times a year since 1947, however the winter and New Years tests have become especially widely celebrated. A Driving Test day consists of a number of different technical tests following a fixed route between markers in the fastest time possible. Competitors must avoid hitting these markers or taking the wrong route or they will receive penalties. The competitor with fewest penalties and fastest times is the winner.
Unlike AutoSolos, tests can include forward and reverse manoeuvres as well as garage parking, figures of eight and parallel parking. The rules state that competing cars must be pre 1931 and that competitors can take part over the age of 16. Tests are also on a mix of surfaces, which can make for some great sideways action!
Since 1934 the Vintage Sports-Car Club has provided an arena for people to enjoy pre-war cars competitively and socially. Active in every aspect of motoring and motorsport for pre-war cars, the VSCC is one of the largest and best regarded motoring clubs in the world. Whether concours touring cars or eccentric, unique ‘specials’ are your fascination, the VSCC upholds the tradition of this golden era of motoring for young and old at an affordable price.
Although temperatures barely rose into positive figures and the sun was hidden behind a thick wall of fog, there was an extremely strong turnout for the Winter Tests. It was brilliant to see so many young people participating, learning and enjoying the vintage cars. Our partners StarterMotor had four cars entered with eight young competitors sharing driving duties, for many it was their first time competing at a Driving Test event. The VSCC offer half price entries to under 30’s to make the events more accessible for the next generation.
We spoke to Tania Brown, Club Secretary at the VSCC:
“We've actively collaborated with the Heritage Skills Academy and StarterMotor to support apprentices in participating in our events. The success of the Bicester College class highlights this commitment. For over ten years, the VSCC has offered half-price memberships and event entries for our under-30 members, easing their financial strain and encouraging their involvement, including in marshalling roles.
It's crucial for inspiring the next generation to not only keep our cars actively used but also to cultivate skilled craftsmen for maintaining these vehicles.”
The VSCC is also embracing the use of sustainable fuels to ensure that vintage cars can be enjoyed as sustainably as possible. With the help of Motor Spirit and Coryton, each competing car was given five free litres of Sustain Classic Super 80 fuel. This fuel is an ethanol free, 98-octane biofuel made from 80% renewable content. This gives a reduction of at least 65% in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels. Feedback was extremely positive from those using the fuel for the first time, some even saying that their cars ran far better than on standard pump fuel.
Tania Brown went on to say:
“The VSCC is fully aware that sustainable fuel isn't the most economical choice, but it's essential for responsibly utilising our cars and preserving the legacy of vintage and historic vehicles. Last year, we introduced alkylate fuels, which are less polluting though still fossil-based, and more recently, we offered Coryton's SUSTAIN fuel at our Prescott Long Course event.
Having SUSTAIN available at the Winter Driving Tests was a milestone, especially as our partnership with Coryton allowed us to provide it free of charge. This was particularly beneficial for our younger members, whom we highly value. It's important that we not only make sustainable fuel more accessible but also educate people about it. It can conveniently be mixed with standard petrol, making it a practical choice. For the broader community, sustainable fuel is one of several solutions to address greenhouse gas emissions.
While some are converting classic cars to electric, many of us see this as infeasible, preferring to maintain the originality of our vehicles. Hence, sustainable fuel is a central topic in our current discussions.”
Events like this are exactly what the HCVA stand for, combining the heritage of the past with the enthusiasm of the future in an enjoyable and sustainable way. If what we saw on Saturday is anything to go by, Historic vehicles have a long and bright future!