“We should probably hold the event in November, next time”, one of the course marshals said to me as she grinningly trudged past me on her way along the hey-bale-lined course during what was the final timed lap of the day. The British ‘Summer’ being what it is, June was once again besieged by rain – but it didn’t stop this year’s Pageant of Power turning out to be another belter.
I donned my woolly hat, jumped into the Suzuki Swift Sport press car and along with my wife Isabel set off to Cholmondeley in Cheshire, for our debut attendance at their increasingly-popular ‘CPOP’ event. This is the fifth year which has seen tens of thousands of people descend on Cholmondeley to feast their eyes on a humongous array of not just cars, but also planes, helicopters, motorcycles, hovercraft, speedboats and even tanks.
Being the fanatical car spotter I am, I always recall what the master spotter Simon Ford says when I turn up at events – the car park is where you see some of the best cars. And Cholmondeley (pronounced ‘Chumley’, actually) was no exception. Two cars down from where we parked the Swift, there was an Audi R8. In front of us, a Jaguar XKR. Then as we walked down the slope towards the enclosure, we passed no less than three Audi S8s, before spotting a gorgeous Noble M600, which turned out to be the firm’s boss’ car.
Compared to the day before, the rain on the Saturday was only intermittent, so once we had collected our passes from PFPR’s Tom Richards in the press pavilion, we got stuck in. It was just a case of being torn, as it would be an understatement to say that there was so much to see.
When it comes to the amazing lineup of pre-war, pre-1965, post-1964 and contemporary sports, rally, touring and grand prix cars on display throughout the day, I will let Isabel’s photos do the talking – but it’s certainly true that CPOP has something for everyone, from a 42-litre Bentley, Morgan 3W Super Aero and a Lancia Stratos, to a Pilbeam MP40, Aston Martin One-77 and a Lexus LFA. The fascinating, gorgeous, history-soaked cars with their wonderful sounds and smells were enough to convert any non-petrolhead. Even people whose car interest is confined to watching Top Gear would have been happy to see the actual Citroen Ami and BMW Z3 cars used in the show’s challenges. James Bond cars were also on display, situated between the ubiquitous Bentley areas and several helicopters.
The commentary provided over the tannoys throughout the day was excellent – informative and captivating, further bringing the laps to life with stats such as Noble selling one car a month, Aston One-77s often being bought in pairs and only three Lexus LFAs existing in Britain. And the Autocar supercar paddock was brilliant, allowing everyone to get up close and personal with most of the cars they had seen being driven along the track.
For a full list of all the cars, bikes, hovercraft, planes, helicopters and other vehicles on display at this year’s Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, visit the official CPOP website. Suffice to say, we really enjoyed our day there so would like to say a warm thank you to Julie, PFPR and everyone else involved – and we certainly hope to come along next year, maybe even staying for the evening concert and fireworks this time, too!
© Oliver Hammond, 2012