Cheshire fireworks unfazed by the rain

| 18 Jul 2011

Record crowds flocked to the fourth Cholmondeley Pageant of Power despite the Cheshire event being blighted yet again by atrocious weather.

Advance sales were up 15% on last year and on-the-day sales up 5% meaning the overall attendance could be as high as 60,000.

Most of the rain came on the final day of the three-day event – Sunday 17 July – meaning that visitors hoping to see a continuation of several fascinating needle matches that were developing the previous day were disappointed as the competition fizzled out in the wet.

The sodden track didn't dampen the drama, however, with massive rooster tails and plenty of slithering on the tricky 1.2 mile sprint course. Justin Law unsurprisingly received the crowd plaudits – the only time he wasn't sideways was when he was airborne – in the WRC Lancia Delta Integrale.

At the very front, the modern cars' battle for supremacy was won again by Nikki Faulkner in the Lambo LP570-4, his best Saturday run of 63.54 secs more than 10 secs quicker than he achieved the following day., Mark Higgins' Subaru Impreza Cossie did 66.08, Andy Middlehurst recorded a 66.31 in the Nissan GTR while Autocar's Matt Prior pedalled the Ariel Atom V8 to to a four-wheeled fourth in 66.40.

The rally cars were less affected by the weather, with Sunday times only marginally slower than Saturday's.

Other stars included Tony Wilson-Spratt in an example of the WSM Sprite that he is about to start recreating after WSM creator Douglas passed away earlier this year.Stars behind the wheel ranged from Barrie "Whizzo" Williams to Derek Bell, but crowd favourite, especially among the rally boys, was WRC hero Juha Kankunnen demoing the Bentley Continental SuperSports.

Car favourites were obviously the unprecedented selection of Vanwalls from the Donington Collection, Tony and Pia Bianchi's Allard Farrallac and Barrie Bird's A98 AC Le Mans Coupé (see C&SC next month for an exclusive test by Gentleman Jack Sears). The Lindner-Nocker factory Lightweight E-type was also a hit on its adopted home turf.

Much was made of the aero-engined monsters – with three entries providing 113 litres of fury between them, but only Chris Williams' comparatively puny 24-litre Napier Bentley was being timed. Many were equally amused by how he tucked up new(ish) 42-litre Packard Bentley "Mavis" for bed.

The inaugural rally stage made for excellent viewing, but a couple of competitors complained that the "straight line" nature of the event needs changing in future years.

The car clubs showed up in force, but the special area beside the chicane on the Polo Straight was definitely less packed than in previous years. All the same there were excellent displays from the Sunbeam Tiger Owners' Club (30 cars!), the Droop Snoot Group and many others.With a vast raft of other activities, from scramblers, to Paris-Dakar trucks, tanks to helicopters and racing boats on the Mere, plus a fairground and loads of stalls, Cholmondeley really has cemented its reputation as providing an unrivalled family day out among historic motor sport events. Until it gets luckier with the weather, though, a lot of people are unlikely to discover that.