‘Yesterday was really wet, not like today. It’s not the slipperiest track I’ve driven on in the wet of course, that’d obviously be Silverstone‘ GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough is talking me through the previous days events that resulted in his slight coming together with an Armco as I nod in complete and blind agreement with his analysis of the perils of a wet Silverstone. Having been a passenger of Jann’s in the past whilst he demonstrated the insane Nissan Juke-R, I get the feeling that he’s here to win; coming second in his opinion is simply the first loser.
The reason I’m comparing notes with Jann is because he’s competing in the 5th Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, an annual celebration of anything with an engine including motorbikes, planes, powerboats and, of course, cars. The main focus of the three-day event which this year ran from the 15th – 17th of June was, as always, the timed run competition. Raced over a 1.2 mile section of the Cholmondeley Castle driveway, the cars are split into eight classes ranging from pre-war, all the way up to modern supercars including the raucous Ferrari 458 Italia and the Nissan GT-R being piloted by Jann.
New features for 2012 included the Top Gear Experience, the Gran Turismo Academy and Bond in Motion which showcased some of the more exciting vehicles that have appeared with 007 over the years. My personal highlight was the seven AC Cobras that had been accumulated to not only celebrate 50 years since its inception but to pay tribute to their creator – the late, great Carroll Shelby.
One other change from previous Pageants was the single-tier entry fee; in Pageants past there was an option to purchase a cheaper ticket which gave access to most areas but meant the car paddock was out-of-bounds. This year, all tickets included paddock entry which, in my opinion, was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, all visitors to the event could get better acquainted with the competing exotica, rather than only seeing them roar away from the start line and up the driveway. On the other hand, I spotted a few rather nervous looking car owners as the hugely swollen crowds bustled past their pristine paintwork, including parents, pushing prams and trying to control their understandably excitable children.
By all accounts, the weather on the first two days of the Pageant was cursed with persistent rain showers which resulted with some thrills and spills on the track but also some rather restricted timed runs. Thankfully however, the sun sporadically revealed itself from behind the clouds on the final day and as the track temperature went up, the driver’s times inevitably came down. Try as he did, Jann was helpless to prevent the impressive Scott Mansell take overall victory in the 300bhp Caterham Superlight SP/300.R with a time of 61.89 seconds. Not only was this time fast enough to win on the day, it also smashed the previous track record of 62.68 seconds, set by Nikki Faulkner in a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.
Some rather slower yet no less spectacular cars competing at the event were the four monstrous, pre-war, aero-engined vehicles, most famous of which is the 47 litre ‘Brutus’ who’s previously appeared on the BBC’s Top Gear programme. No matter how many times I witness these behemoths in action, the effect is always the same, shock and awe. It’s possibly best likened to standing behind the start line as a top-fuel dragster launches down the quarter-mile. The performance is somewhat more limited but with slightly ineffective, cable operated brakes to halt proceedings, that’s maybe for the best.
Other winners included the RAF who put on a hugely impressive display to win the Tri-Services Helicopter Agility competition. The opportunity to see just how well-trained and skillful our armed services are should never be passed up and the RAF were deemed to have executed their handling tests just slightly better than the competition.
The most deserving winner of the weekend was undoubtedly the Pageant itself however. The organisers and sponsors efforts were quite rightly rewarded with record crowds of over 50,000 people. In spite of the unseasonal weather, the public came in their droves to witness over 120 cars and bikes competing on the track and to be wowed by the 1000+ vehicles on display. Here’s to next year when some overdue sunshine would surely see the Cholmondleley Pageant of Power go from strength to strength.
By Ben Harrington
- Cholmondeley Pageant of Power in pictures (gizmag.com)
- Muddy good fun: Pentillie Festival of Speed 2012 (petrolblog.com)
- Magnificent Seven categories confirmed for Chris Evans’ Carfest (luxvelocity.typepad.com)