ACCELERATING down the final straight, it really does feel like my stomach has lodged itself somewhere near my throat.
“I think I might need a cup of tea,” I stammer as we pull up back at the start line.
My driver, Bentley project engineer Ash Mason laughs: “She’s pretty quick for a car of her size.”
I thank him and step out of the beautiful cockpit of the Continental Supersports – the most powerful road car that the marque has ever produced.
Bentley were one of the founding sponsors of the Pageant of Power in Cholmondeley and this year they return with a range of historic race cars, including the spectacular Le Mans winning Super 8 which roars down the track as I make my way towards a reassuring cuppa.
The ride in the Continental had been my second high-speed tour around the track.
Earlier I had been a passenger in the incredible new XKR-S, currently Jaguar’s quickest production car and capable of more than 185 mph.
We are in the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle, surrounded by some of history’s most important cars.
Among them is the Lotus-Climax driven by Stirling Moss to a famous victory in the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix and next to it, my own dream car, a stunning Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing.
There are two helicopters from RAF Shawbury here and one from Eurocopter, another of the event’s sponsors. The still waters of the mere are broken in the wake of a powerboat and there’s even the James Bond wetbike from the film The Spy Who Loved Me.
And this is just a fraction of what will be on display at next month’s event.
The Pageant of Power has become a hugely popular annual occasion which last year drew 50,000 people. According to event director James Hall, they are expecting even more people at this year’s festival, bringing an estimated £5 million into the local economy.
“There’s 150 cars on the track – and that doesn’t include the rally cars – as well as 2,000 from the car clubs. What makes the Pageant of Power different is that it is a celebration of land, sea and air and we’ll have the world speed record boat Bluebird here as well as seven classes of power boats and, of course some incredible air displays.
“It has become about a third bigger each year and this year we have added an extra preview day.”
There will be a fantastic array of vehicles on show as well as some incredible displays and activities. In addition there’s plenty of trade and catering stands and, of course, the popular fireworks concert and military tattoo takes place on the evening of Saturday, July 16.
During the weekend, the British Army and Royal Air Force (RAF) will come together to amaze Pageant crowds with the country’s only public demonstration of military combat power.
In total, six units of the British Army will attend the Pageant, including two from the Territorial Army – 4th Mercian from Central England, and 3rd Mercian from Staffordshire – and the 75th Engineer Regiment from the North West of England.
In addition, Defence Helicopter Flying School helicopters, including Squirrel, Griffon, and Chinook from RAF Shawbury, North Shropshire, will be present. They will be joined by a Sea King Search & Rescue helicopter from RAF Valley, Anglesey.
Royal Navy Lieutenant Dave White, and his colleague, Squadron Leader Sharon Males, both based at Shawbury, will be among the armed forces contingent wowing the crowds.
Lt White explains: “We’ll be here with three Griffon helicopters taking part in the combat display – nice, simple stuff that we do every day. We’ll be doing demonstrations of hovering and activities on the lines of the British Helicopter championships. The other event is a search and rescue display over the mere.”
The country’s biggest celebration of power and speed will also highlight some incredible green technology.
The Trident Iceni, a new British Grand Tourer, promises 200 mph and 100 mpg and will be officially launched at Green-Car-Guide Live!, the area dedicated to green motoring at the Pageant.
Also being launched at this year’s event is the BAC Mono, a single-seater production sports car built in Cheshire.
With a host of famous cars, breathtaking displays of power on land, air and water and much more, this year’s Pageant really does promise something for everyone.
See full story in the Leader