Pageant of Power to the people

Historic Racing

The racing cars flashed along the waterfront, the crowds cheered, waving chequered flags and leaning over the barriers to get a glimpse of their heroes. Some climbed lamp posts and traffic lights in search of a better view. The privileged few gazed down from balconies high above the harbour. At the finish drivers performed donuts for the fans before parking up in the waterside paddock. Then we all went to the bars that line the harbour. Can’t remember much else.

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Where were we? Monte Carlo? Long Beach? Valencia? None of these. We were in Liverpool.

This week, for one day only, Liverpudlians forgot about the football season – one they’d happily forget anyway – and came to see a promotion for the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, which will be staged in the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle in July. But for now the capital city of the north west of England had its own Pageant of Power, the cars blasting past the famous Albert Dock which houses The Beatles museum and is a World Heritage site.

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More than 25,000 people came down to the river to see the kind of cars that will compete at Cholmondeley later this summer. And they must have left wanting more – which is exactly what the organisers had hoped. Seeing the cars again, plus many more, will involve a trip out into the Cheshire countryside on the weekend of July 17-18. Children dressed in the red shirts of Liverpool Football Club begged parents to buy the tickets being proffered by girls who wandered among the crowd dressed in blue Cholmondeley shirts. Well, at least they weren’t Everton blue.

Star of the show was James Walker, who made a lot of noise with his Superleague championship challenger sponsored by – you guessed it – Liverpool FC. There were many who thought this powerful single-seater was a Ferrari – “look Dad, here comes the F1 Ferrari”. But hey, who cares, they were having fun. You don’t see many racing cars in Liverpool.

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Outside the Hilton Hotel, recently built as part of the Liverpool One regeneration scheme, was the nerve centre of the Pageant of Power. By the front door was a line of cars that you may never see again in this place. Old and young alike stood gasping and wide-eyed in front of a Lamborghini Gallado, Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari Enzo and a Rolls Royce Phantom coupé. These machines are owned by The Ability Group, a property and investment company whose chairman Andreas Panayiotou started life as a boxer in London’s East End. Not all Greeks are in trouble. Oh yes, and Mr Panayiotou built the hotel before leasing it to Hilton.

Another crowd-pleaser was the talented historic racer Justin Law in his Le Mans-winning Silk Cut-liveried Jaguar. Justin knows better than most how to put on a show, but heading for the Liver Building at over 120mph was a new experience for him. “Yeah, I know roughly where the road goes,” he said, “but I’ll just give it as much as I can and let’s hope it stays dry because we only have slicks. I can’t take this car to Cholmondeley – it’s too wide and low for the humpback bridge there. Shame.”

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So, a day for Scousers to remember. And they will, because just about every one of them snapped the action on a mobile phone. You may have received a picture. If not, don’t worry, it all happens again – but bigger and better – in Cheshire in July.

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