The north-west has a new motor sport attraction following the success of the first Pageant of Power
By Paul Lawrence
With around 15,000 visitors, action on the track, on the water and in the air, and a tremendous response from the drivers, the first Cholmondeley Pageant of Power can be judged a runaway success.
The plan to run a weekend festival in the extensive grounds of Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire, bringing together three strands of powered entertainment, was bold and ambitious, but the event delivered on all fronts and planning for the 2009 edition is already underway.
“The feedback from the competitors has been excellent,” said event director James Hall. “They’ve enjoyed the atmosphere and they’ve enjoyed the course. It’s been a huge success. I’ve been talking to the public as they’ve been leaving and the response is that they loved it.”
The action on the newly constructed 1.2-mile sprint course centred on 80 classic cars and 40 motorbikes, and each had four timed runs through Sunday. Although tight in sections, the course was widely enjoyed, and top speeds of 115mph were recorded as the pace increased steadily during Sunday’s better conditions.
The tightness of some corners made it tricky for the biggest and newest race cars, but Derek Bell successfully demonstrated the Le Mans-winning Bentley Speed 8 as the Cheshire-based marque played a major role in the event. “It’s an idyllic setting and the atmosphere is tremendous,” said the five-time Le Mans winner.
Other drivers echoed Bell’s comments. Willie Green drove an Aston Martin DB3S and a Ferrari Testa Rossa. “It’s gone better than any of us dared hope,” said Green. “The venue is terrific and the ambience has been sensational. Maybe some of the corners just need to be opened up.”
In the competition, the Ford RS200 former Group B rally car of Kingsley Ingram clinched fastest time of the day, but the local driver had to dig deep on his final run to push the Lola T70 Mk3B of Steve Tandy back to second. The winning margin was less than 0.25 seconds.
Into a mighty third, and showing that the Cholmondeley course rewards skill and bravado as well as all-out power, went the 1960 Cooper T51 of Nigel Bancroft: “It was jumping out of gear, so it was a case of holding the oversteer with one hand and the gear lever with the other.”
But the big winner was the region, with the birth of a new event that will quickly become a must-do on the calendar. There was little to fault during the first running of the Pageant of Power and given the scale of achievement, it is only going to get better in future years.