The temptation is to call it the Goodwood of the north. The comparisons are inevitable. After all, this event, like the Festival of Speed, majors around historic and important sports cars being driven over a timed, sprint course.
But the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, which takes place this weekend at Cholmondelely Castle, near Crewe, is sufficient different enough from the gig in Lord March’s garden have its own distinct feel, and appeal.
In some ways, the atmosphere around the pretty castle grounds is like Goodwood during the ‘90s: more casual, less crowded. You could argue there are fewer star cars and fewer star drivers at Cholmondeley, but it has a different appeal: there are lots of interesting cars and bikes. Interesting stories surround them. It’s like chamber music rather than an orchestral spectacular.
And although it’s not generally Autocar’s remit to go on about things other than cars, there’s more diversity too. The armed forces blow things up. There are powerboats. Helicopters. A classical concert with fireworks and accompanied by, if it’s anything like last year, deafening cannon.
And, whisper it, for the likes of you and me, it’s worth knowing the course is a cracker, too: on which to both drive and spectate. As the map above shows, it scribes a curved course around the castle, and much of the other activities is sited in the middle.
It’s easy to stroll from one side to the other, to see the cars for longer, at higher speeds, less likely over the heads of other spectators.
It’s 1.2 miles long, the course, while because after the finish it flows back round to the start, continuous action is possible on track. Each vehicle completes three runs per day.
Where Cholmondeley has suffered in previous years is in the weather. Frankly, it has mostly been atrocious. We’re hoping for better this year for two reasons: camping in the rain is a pain, and I’m going to be driving an Ariel Atom V8 again, hopefully a bit quicker than last year. The Autocar team will also be doing a spot of commentary. Hopefully we’ll see you there.
On board for a lap of Cholmondeley:
Start: Slightly downhill, so necessitates heeling the throttle open while holding the brakes
Bridge 1: Slight curve onto and off of bridge. A little air on the way off. Just about flat in the dry. Not in the wet
Chestnut Avenue: Curved, slightly off-camber. Almost a straight and flat in the dry
Approach to Lodge: Curved approach and difficult to pick a braking point into double apex
Lodge and Vicarage: Two low speed corners under trees. Sideways exit to both likely
Polo Straight: Flat out, with a high speed, bus stop-style chicane constructed from haybales halfway down
Chapel Corner: Uphill braking zone shortens braking distance. Off camber entry corner, with an tree unnervingly on the outside
Lozenger: Downhill into a dip through slight right. Touch of oversteer possible
Into Castle: Table-top before tight-left Castle corner. If you leave braking until you’re off the tabletop, it’s too late
Out of Castle: Flat on exit, some oversteer and straight onto bridge whose exit yumps to good air and smooth landing
Finish: Flat-out sprint to finish, then lift and cruise back to paddock
Cholmondeley Pageant of Power runs from 15-17 June, starting at 8am each day. Day tickets cost from £25. Visit cpop.co.uk for more information.