There are some who compare it with the Festival of Speed, but Cholmondeley’s annual homage to internal combustion bears little relation to Goodwood. This is a far more homely event, where stallholders are rather more likely to flog you locally produced fruit or cheese than lure you with a brand-new Lexus.
This was the seventh such event and the fare was slightly reduced. Vintage scramblers were still there to support the main sprint, but the traditional powerboat racing had been dropped, the Sinsheim Museum (serial supplier of the mechanically weird) was absent and on Friday the trade area looked like the centre of a town whose existence was unknown to the outside world. The pace picked up that evening, when Status Quo popped in to play a chord or three, and in Saturday’s sunshine – scarcely a Cholmondeley custom – the grounds were positively fizzing.
Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt’s son Rick Jr was competing in his British GT Championship Ginetta G55 (he and Ryan Ratcliffe won the GT4 title last season). “I’m not sure I’ve driven anywhere with so little grip,” he said. “It might be completely dry, but I’ve been running on wets. The course is incredibly tight and tricky – absolutely bonkers, but it’s a great event.”
Much of the entry was familiar, but custom did little to diminish its appeal.
Former British F3 champion Robbie Kerr returned, in the latest-spec Radical SR8 RX, for a crack at his own 55.29sec record (set last year). He won the Post-66 Sports & Sports Racing Cars class by almost 11sec, and was the only driver to break the one-minute barrier all weekend, but his quickest run fell slightly short of his target, at 56.41sec.
Niki Faulkner (Ariel Atom, 60.95sec) was second-quickest on four wheels, and winner of the Supercars & Track Day class, ahead of Duncan Tappy (BAC Mono, 61.09sec), but Honda rider Matt Winstanley (60.85sec) shaded both. He was swiftest of a growing Supermoto band, many of whom completed some sections of the course on back wheel alone… and others solely on the front.
Ian Stewart (Morgan three-wheeler, 78.39sec) took Classic Pre-War honours, eight tenths clear of Chris Williams, whose flame-breathing Napier-Bentley demolished the straw-bale chicane during one practice run.
Andrew Phillips (Grancabrio, 70.99sec) topped a Maserati class that honoured the marque’s centenary, while other winners were rising WRC star Elfyn Evans (Rally Cars, Ford Fiesta S2000, 65.23sec), Keith Harris (Historic F1 & Single-Seaters, Chevron B25, 66.62sec), Alistair Dyson (Pre-66 Sports & Sports Racing Cars, Jaguar E-type, 72.83sec) and Mike Farrell (Motorcycles, Rudge TTR, 72.50sec).
Dates for the 2015 event (June 12-14) have already been set – and the promise of continuity is fine news for one of the UK’s unheralded gems. Simon Arron