American Speedfest 2021

American Speedfest is an annual celebration of Americana held at Brands Hatch.

Although this would be my first year there, I’d heard that American Speedfest is one of the most popular events that Brands Hatch holds and I can certainly see why! There was a huge fun fair, food and drink, market stalls and of course a huge show and shine area and plenty of action on track from the Whelen Euro NASCAR series, Legends, F5000s and space framed pick ups. All of which made for really good racing. I would definately like to see some more of the Legends in the future! They were great fun!

For this post I’ll be focusing mostly on the show and shine area. Of course there have been plenty of American cars at other shows I’ve been to, but this show really brought out some unusual and well presented metal and I took a lot of photographs!

I’d also like to say that there are a lot of people out there who know more about American cars than I do, so if I make any mistakes, please get in touch and I’ll make corrections.

We’ll start with the Mustangs. The Mustang has been in the UK market for over 5 years now, and there were a number of the newer right hand drive Mustangs at the show. Of particular interest to me was this RTR packaged car.

RTR Vehicles is a brand by Formula Drift driver Vaughn Gittin Jr. I’ve seen several RTR cars in the states, at both SEMA and Formula Drift, but I had no idea that the packages were sold in the UK!

Another interesting Mustang on display was this Hertz Shelby GT350 “Rent-A-Racer”. In 1966 Hertz and Shelby came to an agreement to have 1000 of these cars as rentals. There are a lot of stories of people taking them to track days and some apparently even swapped the rental’s engine into their base model Mustang then returning the car to Hertz, albeit with much less power.

There were a few 3rd and 4th generation “fox platform” Mustangs. When I was younger I seem to recall that these weren’t that appreciated. I think the 4th gen is quite a good looking car though, and the 3rd gens make for fantastic race cars, be that track, drag or drift! As a convertible the 3rd gen looks good too, though it always reminds me of Vanilla Ice’s music video haha!

There was a nice display of Thunderbirds. The 1st generation car in the teal is obviously beautiful but I really liked the 3rd generation cars too. They’re a really good looking car!

GT40s. These guys normally come to the Masters Historic festival too and it’s always a pleasure to see their cars. I follow a company on Instagram called LeMans Coupes who make recreation GT40s and they are absolutely stunning! One of these would be a lottery win car for me, for sure.

Now, this is where my lack of knowledge is going to start to show. I believe these hotrods are based on pre-war American Fords (or recreations thereof), so I’m putting them in with the Fords. I’ve not really had anything to do with these before, but I bet they are an absolute blast to drive!

There were plenty of cars from Ford’s long term rival Chevrolet.

The C8 Corvette is meant to be coming to the UK soon. I think it’s a fantastic car; mid-engined V8 with a DCT transmission and considerably cheaper than an equivalent Ferrari or McLaren. I saw a couple of race prepared examples at SEMA in 2019 but have not seen the road going car in person yet. I’m very much looking forward to it!

There were a fair few Corvettes at the show.

A Corvette shooting brake. Apparently a few different companies offered this conversion. I actually really like it, especially this one which appears to have retained it’s t-top roof.

There were plenty of Camaros both classic and modern.

The Chevelle and El Camino are my favourite American muscle cars. I can’t put my finger on why, but that front end is just right.

A Caprice wagon, or estate as we like to call them. It looks like it’s been set up for drag racing. I bet it looks really cool going down Santa Pod.

The Tri Five Chevrolets have a huge cult following. American cars of the 1950s are very much of their era. America was entering the jet age and the space race and the cars reflected that with the details like big fins and afterburner like tail lights. The cars were also telling of a nation that was economically in a fantastic position with their massive luxury and vast amounts of chrome.

The Tri Fives obviously have the larger following, so I’m sure I’ll get a bit of flak for this, but I prefer the Cadillacs of that era. They just have so much class, especially in black.

In the Mopar camp there were a lot of Chargers! I had no idea they were so popular here.

Along with a nice variety of other muscle cars.

One of the biggest attractions were the TV and movie cars. This was a really popular area all day! The owners could be seen chatting to people throughout the day.

Finally, we have the stock cars. The headline race of he day was the Whelen Euro NASCAR Series.

Truth be told it was one of the best races I’ve seen at Brands. The cars themselves are huge and it was quite a large grid. It made for really close, bumper to bumper racing all the way around the track. I would like to see them on a Speedway at some point. Maybe there will be a trip to Daytona in my future?

There were also a few cars parked up off track. It was a rare opportunity to get a proper look at an American style stock car. I’ve only ever seen a couple in person before, and that was on the other side of the Atlantic.

To conclude, I really enjoyed my day at American Speedfest. If you’re looking for a family day at Brands Hatch then this is the event to go to as there is so much to do with the kids away from the track. For American car fans the event is a must!

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By Richard Francis

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