The air whiffed of Castrol R as thousands made the annual pilgrimage to the north-west’s celebration of all things petrol-powered – the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power – as Lotus stormed to the top of the classic leader board.
The event showcased leviathans such as the 46-Litre Brutus together with Minis, Le Mans sports-prototypes, Touring cars, F1 single-seaters from throughout the ages and modern-day supercars as they competed to post the fastest time of the weekend on the 1.2-mile Cheshire sprint course.
Aero-engined cars were out in force in the Classic Pre-War Car class as it played host to not only the BMW-powered Brutus, but also Chris Williams’ 27-Litre Hispano-Delage, his 24-litre Napier-Bentley (below) and a Packard-powered Bentley boasting 42-litres and a fondness for spitting flames from its exhaust.
An Amphicar and an Austin Blackburn 1100 brought a saner side to proceedings, but it was the Napier-Bentley that looked to have sealed the fastest time of the group by the fourth run – taking 85.04 secs to complete the course.
Single-seater fans had a variety of four-wheeled icons to drool over, including the Lotus 69 F3 and Lamborghini-powered Lotus Type 102, a BRM 126 (below) and 153, Aston Martin DBR4 and Chevron B25, all competing in the Post War Grand Prix Cars and Single Seaters Racing Cars classes.
It was the two Lotus that dominated the class, the Type 102 and the 69 F3 setting times of 68.26 secs and 67.98 secs respectively in the fourth run.
A recreation of the W196 Mercedes streamliner, based on a W124 and powered by a 3-litre straight-six, caught our attention after the controversial crushing of a replica 300SL.
The owners don’t fear the same fate for their car, though. “I’ve never called it a Mercedes and it’s a race car [lacking a ‘work of applied art’ shape like the 300SL], so Mercedes have never been too bothered,” said joint owner Laurence Baker.
The Sports Cars & Sports Racing Cars Pre 1965 class may not have provided the fastest cars on the track, but with beauties on show such as Jaguar Heritage’s C-type, Lister Jaguar, Jag D-type Short Nose and group-leading Lotus 30 (75.64 secs), it did assemble some of the best-looking distractions.
The Sports Cars & Sports Racing Cars class Post 1964 added a fresher taste to the day, pitting the Jaguar XJ220 Martini car up against an XJR-15, fantastic Bentley Speed 8, Shapecraft Lotus Elan and a Ford GT40, but it was a Caterham SP/300 that would lead the group (and post the fastest time of the day) at 63.39 secs.
For those who like their motor racing rough and ready the Rally & Touring Car class had a choice pick of some true greats such as a Mini Cooper ‘S’, Sierra Sapphire Cosworth, Lancia Stratos, Lotus Cortina and Audi Quattro S1, yet it was the BMW E30 M3 driven by Jason Minshaw that would top the class with a time of 69.94 secs.
A Transit Super Sport van and a Fiat 500 Super Saloon added some oddity, with the van coming 11th in the group behind the little Italian’s commendable 5th.
Fittingly, AC Cobras had a class all to themselves with Bill Bridges’ famous Hairy Canary being joined by four others and the fastest car of the day (69.68 secs) the 289 MkII driven by Justin Law.
Modern supercars were out in force with a group including a Ferrari 458, Noble M600, Ariel Atom 500 V8, Nissan GT-R, Aston Martin One-77, Radical SR3 SL and Mercedes SLS, but it was a locally built BAC Mono that topped the class.
For fans of two wheels, the variety was just as impressive with a comprehensive range of old and present-day superbikes, three-wheeled vehicles and sidecars, plus Super Moto ’bikes. An Edison – Paton Mono – Cycle added an unusual twist.
The Pageant of Power is not restricted to land, however, with shows put on in the air including a flypast from the Red Arrows, an elegant aerobatic display from the Red Hawk motor gliders and a demonstration of search and rescue techniques. There was plenty of action on the water, too, with hovercrafts, Thundercat inflatables and jet ski freestyle spectacular.
Event director James Hall said: “It looks like we’ve bettered last year’s turnout [of 50,000], which is astonishing given the poor weather. I’m thrilled to pieces with the way the Pageant of Power has grown in to the incredible event that it is today.”