The 2011 Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, held over the weekend of the 15-17th July 2011, was the largest of its four-year history – securing its place in the motoring enthusiast’s calendar.
Heavy rain over the weekend did little to deter the crowds although a soaking track did temper the enthusiasm of the drivers of the £500 million-worth of machinery that was there. “Despite the occasional intervention of the notoriously unreliable British summer weather, the 2011 Pageant lived up to all our expectations,” said James Hall, the event director. “The feedback has been fantastic and thanks to our sponsors, supporters and a dedicated Pageant team we’ve been able to build on the event’s nationwide reputation as an unbeatable day out.”
The most-expensive car on display was the Auto Union D-type, a legendary ‘Silver Arrow’ Grand Prix car from 1938, which is estimated to be worth in excess of £9 million. For those with more modest budgets there were 175 racing cars and motorbikes driving on the 1.2 mile race circuit and a further 1,200 cars on static display.
Jaguar E-Type enthusiasts were pleased to see the public debut of the only factory-built Low Drag Lightweight Jaguar E-Type, fresh from restoration. This car crashed at the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry race circuit, just outside Paris, in 1964 and was so badly damaged that a complete restoration was thought to be impossible. But 47 years later, and after more than 7,000 hours of work, the car has been restored to its original state, using more than 90 per cent of the original parts.
One of the most unusual cars was the BMW Brutus ‘Experimentalfahrzeug’, a 46-litre, 12-cylinder aeroplane-engined special edition, packing over 1,200bhp. Normally on display at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany it was created as a result of the country’s ban on making military aircraft after World War I, a result of which was a stockpile of unused aircraft engines. It wowed the crowd with its thunderous engine noise.
In contrast was the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC (Racing Competition) sports car, based on the all-electric Nissan LEAF. One of the more surprising cars of the weekend the LEAF NISMO RC was first shown at the New York auto show. It was only the second time that it had been driven in public in the UK. The electric sports car was cheered by the crowds along the race circuit who were amazed by the combination of massive performance and speed, all in virtual silence.
For the environmentally aware there was the Green-Car-Guide Live! a new area of the Pageant dedicated to green motoring. Visitors were able to see the remarkable Oaktec Honda Insight rally car (recently banned from competing for being too fast), the all-electric Nissan LEAF hatchback, Volkswagen’s latest BlueMotion products and the first UK public outing of the BMW 520d EfficientDynamics, which is capable of delivering up to 62.8 mpg. Also on display were cars from Jaguar, MINI, Ford, Citroen, Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi.
Paul Clarke, founder of Green-Car-Guide.com, said: “We wanted to show visitors that their everyday transport can achieve over 70 mpg in the case of the Volkswagen BlueMotion range, or that their vehicle could function without any petrol or diesel at all in the case of the all-electric Nissan LEAF.”
The fastest time of the weekend on the 1.2-mile circuit was set by last year’s record holder, Nikki Faulkner, with a blistering time of 63.54 seconds in his Lamborghini LP570-4 Performante. However, the wet conditions meant that rally ace Mark Higgins pushed him very hard in his Subaru Cosworth Impreza STI CS400, which proved unbeatable during the rain showers.
The Pageant of Power is just as famous for the additional non-race circuit displays. This year’s included 120mph powerboat demonstrations on the lake, Group B rally cars from the 1980s on a specially designed rally course, aerobatic stunt planes, helicopters and a combat power assault simulation by the British Army.
James Hall commented:
“We feel extremely privileged that the British Army has chosen the Pageant as the venue for its only public demonstration of military combat power in the UK this year. While the displays are great fun for the crowds to watch, the military action will also serve as a reminder of the dedication and bravery of the country’s Armed Forces and we’ll be encouraging spectators to give generously to three military charities.”
Saturday’s events closed with a Fireworks Concert and military tattoo held in the evening in aid of Combat Stress – the UK’s leading military charity specialising in the mental health care of military veterans.