Iconic racing cars never retire. Having not seen competitive action for a decade, a special 1952 Jaguar C-type returns to racing for the 2012 Royal Automobile Club Woodcote trophy, and the racing Reverend Simon Butler will be behind the wheel.
Simon Butler, affectionately known as the “Racing Reverend” as well as the Associate Rector of Ashtead Parish of Surrey, England, started racing in karting leagues at an early age. “I think I’m the only Anglican clergyman who has ever driven a modern Formula 1 car, but this will be my first experience in the historics,” Butler admits. “The C-type is owned by one of my parishioners, Tony Allen, and he invited me to share the car with Jonathon Crouch for the full series of Woodcote Trophy races.”
The backstory behind the 1952 C-type is perhaps even more interesting. Painted in a French racing blue, chassis number XKC 016 was originally supplied to a French Jaguar importer. When it competed in the Mille Miglia in 1953, a brutal crash killed driver Pierre Gilbert Ugnon and seriously injured team-mate Luc Descollanges.
According to Butler, the damaged C-type was then left abandoned in a yard for almost 20 years before it was painstakingly restored, piece-by-piece, in the 1970s. Since then, it has enjoyed many years of racing.
Known for its fast and fiercely competitive nature, the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy poses a true challenge for the Reverend. Addressing his level of confidence, Butler said, “Historic cars have no brakes! Seriously, though, I’ve really enjoyed the transition to historics, so much so that I might not go back. With a historic car, you need to keep it moving around a lot; there’s still a lot of precision needed, but it’s a different sort of precision.”
The first Woodcote Trophy race will be held at Donington Historic Festival from May 5-6. Races to follow include the Brands Hatch GP circuit, the Silverstone Classic, as well as the Spa Six-Hours Meeting in September.
Donington will be a home race for Reverend Simon Butler, as his previous parish is just 15 miles from the circuit, at West Bridgford in Nottinghamshire.