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Two Great British Motoring Events

28 July 1999

Andrew Frankl

European Bureau Chief

As The Auto Channel is read all over the World I thought I would mention two great motoring events enthusiasts might like to consider next time they are in Britain.

Firstly there is the Louis Vuitton Concours d' Elegance held every year at the highly prestigious Hurlingham Club in West London.

If the weather is good-and is has been for a number of years-it is a glorious event. A number of very fine cars and bikes are invited to participate and for those with an eye for classics this is an event not to be missed. It is quintessentially British at its best. As you can see from the picture of the yellow Bugatti with the guy playing croquet in the background it is totally informal. Nearby there are people playing tennis, there are very few security guards, the whole ambiance is very very plesant indeed helped no doubt by lots and lots of happy people drinking gallons of champagne in the sun and wondering about on the magnificiently trimmed lawns.

There were categories of course for the various groups of cars depending on age and type but although some judges such as double World Champion John Surtees looked pretty ferocious all in all it was a low-key, laid back event. I am not into celebrity spotting but apparently there were lots of famous models and pop stars wondering around without a care in the World. There were racing cars, such as the stunning Ferrari 246 from 1968, American cars such as the Marmon Sixteen convertible sedan from 1931 and gems such as the Pierce motor cycle.

Hurlingham is easy to get to and the event is always held early in June.

Another great event is also held in June but a few weeks later. It is the Goodwood Festival of Speed and it is now such a huge success that the tickets for the Sunday are sold out in advance. We are talking about 60 thousand tickets by the way..it is the brain child of the Earl of March known to all and sundry as Charlie. As a great motoring enthusist and fine racing driver who just happens to own some of the most desirable bits of real estate in Britain Charlie decided to turn his estate into the scene of a motoring festival for one week-end every year. If the Hurlingham Club one is nice one to go to then this one is an absolute must!

First of all the variety of cars and bikes is simply staggering. This year there were Grand Prix cars such as the McLaren-Mercedes, rally cars such as the Safari rally winner Ford Focus, its deadly rival the Subaru Impreza, pre-war racing cars such as the Auto Union Audis, the Le Mans winning BMW straight from the track and still covered in oil and dirt, stands by all the major manufacturers from Ferrari to Maserati and on top of it all the really exciting cars and bikes actually do a time trial up the hill protected only by straw bales! As luck would have it The Autochannel had the new Honda 2000 for test and the organisers invited us to participate in the run, a great honour in itself and seriously exciting! I let my young colleague Matt Earle do the driving, after all he was familiar with the car having just driven it back from the South of France, all in the line of duty of course! The run itself was pretty thrilling but to meet up with the drivers of some of the serious machinery was just awesome!

This year's sponsors Audi arranged for an amazing spectacle in front of the March residence which is further proof that the Goodwood Festival of Sport is destined to grow and grow. If you are in Britain during the latter part of June rent a car, a bike, roller blade, hitch hike but whatever else you do- don't miss it.