THE Cholmondeley Power and Speed Festival is a chummy event where gentlemen with expensive toys let you get closer to their precious metal than they probably should, writes Simon Donohue.
An amazingly exclusive Ferrari (the rare race-spec FXX version of the Enzo, starts at £2m and you’re not even allowed to take it home) sits in the same paddock as a brand new Bentley Bentayga (£160,200-plus), while enthusiasts of all ages mingle, paw and exchange mumbles of supressed excitement in line with their maturity and status.
The relaxed nature of the refined affair perhaps reflects the fact that many of the people here really can afford to touch. Half in mischief, I ask the nice Bentley man if he’s taken any orders for the Bentayga today. His deadpan answer? “Yes, quite a few.” That’s me in my place then.
But sharing rather than showing off seems to be the overall theme here, with people fortunate enough to own such rare and luxurious motors merely happy to talk about them. In suburbia, discussions might take place about the latest Flymo. Here the talk is of single seaters, homologation and imports from far flung destinations with an interesting back story, such as the Ford Mustang which found a temporary home in Australia after being seized for moonshine running in the United States.
While the polite chatter takes place in the paddock, the real conversation surrounds what happens on the Cholmondeley circuit where the cars are put through their paces. Plummy vowelled commentators providing a running rapport which rather fades into background noise as cars take it in turn to cover the circuit as quickly as possible, ramping dramatically off the ground as they exist the bridge near the starting line. There are the occasional thrills and spills as someone spins off the track, or regains control in the nip of time, but mostly it’s gentile, gentle and thoroughly good natured fun.
Helicopters, Pimms and burgers
Alongside the cars are copious bikes, helicopter flights and rides on a rib. You can eat burgers or drink Pimms. Cholmondeley: you probably shouldn’t touch what you definitely can’t afford, but it’s a perfectly chummy experience all round if you do.
More details for next year as they become available here.