FOR THE THIRD TIME IN ITS FOUR-YEAR history, bad weather did its best to wreck the Pageant of Power. But the rain could not dampen the evergrowing success and popularity of this event, which centres on the 1.2-mile speed event course in the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire.
The tone for the weekend was set in the first serious run on Friday afternoon. Chris Williams laid 75 yards of rubber off the startline when he unleashed the 24-litre Napier Bentley. This event is all about celebrating power, in all its many forms, and the aero-engined Bentley perfectly encapsulated the ethos of the Pageant of Power.
The contest for overall glory was once again fought out by the supercars, with Nikki Faulkner (Lamborghini LP570) backing up his 2010 victory. He ended Saturday’s mainly dry runs with a two-second margin over the flying Ducati of Darren Fry and Mark Higgins’ Subaru lmpreza. When the rain arrived on Sunday, the results were sealed.
But the competition is only a part of the Cholmondeley story. Powerboat racing, air displays, helicopter fly-ins and classic motocross all add to this event’s appeal, and despite the shocking Sunday weather visitor attendance was good. New for 2011 was a dedicated Group B rally stage, which will develop over the coming years to become a bigger part of the show. Mick Shafford’s Chevrolet-powered Firenza, with its ‘show-off’ straight through exhaust pipes fitted for the occasion, made a fabulous noise that even the helicopters and motorbikes struggled to drown out.
For the second time, the enthusiasm of Tom Wheatcroff was celebrated with cars from the Donington Collection both on show and on the track. Notably, the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix-winning Lotus 18 of Stirling Moss made a rare appearance and ran without side panels, just as at Monaco, to mark the 50th anniversary of a famous victory.
Along with the 18 came two Vanwalls and a static display celebrating four-wheel-drive Formula 1 history. Never seen together away from Donington before were cars from BRM, McLaren, Lotus and Cosworth, while the Ferguson P99 completed the quintet.
Making only its second public appearance since the 1970s was 166 RUR, the first works Lotus Cortina racer. Now owned by Kevin Kivlochan and freshly re-prepared, the car was raced by Jack Sears at the 1963 Oulton Gold Cup and subsequently by Jim Clark and Dan Gurney. Kivlochan plans to use the car, still on its original bodyshell, albeit sparingly.
Other star cars included the restored Lindner Nocker Jaguar E-type of Peter Neumark and the Lotus-Lamborghini 102 of Andrew Morris, who turned in some spirited runs to win the single-seater class by a handsome margin.
Another Pageant debutant was the AC Coupé of Barrie Bird, a car rarely seen in public. The special-bodied Cobra was developed for Le Mans and ran for seven hours in 1964 before a tyre failed and it crashed out. Bird spent 12 years on the restoration and it was one of many cars to draw a constant crowd.