18/05/2011 Chelsea AutoLegends 2011: The Swinging Sixties return to London SW3
Most commentators agree that Chelsea AutoLegends was the surprise hit of 2010. This year, the organisers promise, the 4 September event will be bigger and better than ever, with a ‘Swinging Sixties’ theme celebrating that great motoring decade. These were the years when wealthy privateers could purchase top-notch, ex-factory cars and mix it with the best of them in F1, GT and long-distance racing.
Names such as Tommy Sopwith, John Coombes, Colonel Ronnie Hoare and the doyen of them all (the man whose passport, under ‘occupation’, simply stated ‘gentleman’) Rob Walker, who originally owned the famous blue and white 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB you see above.
Sir Stirling Moss, a patron of Chelsea AutoLegends, was reunited today, 18 May, with the very car in which he won the 1961 Tourist Trophy at Goodwood – a repeat of his 1960 performance for the same team, but this time in a very hot, ex-factory SWB.
In the 1960s, Kensington and Chelsea was awash with exotic cars, well-heeled enthusiasts and celebrities, having the famous King’s Road at its epicentre. If you think of the three upper-class racing drivers in The Italian Job, add in the iconic Mini Cooper, Jaguar E-type and mews-based racing teams, you will get the picture.
This year’s Chelsea AutoLegends aims to relive those hedonistic days, the time when anyone could buy a Ford GT40, Ferrari 250LM or even a Porsche 917 and compete at the very top level. All to a background of hard-driving Rhythm and Blues, psychedelia and outlandish fashion. Marvellous.
As ever, Le Mans racing cars will be the highlight of the event. Working closely with the British Racing Drivers’ Club and the Club International des Pilotes des 24 Heures du Mans, the organising committee is confident of another mouthwatering line-up of genuine ex-Le Mans cars, accompanied by many of the drivers who drove them in period. In 2010, Sir Stirling (most often the pace-setter, although never a winner) was joined by five-times overall winner Derek Bell and Richard Attwood, the man who set Porsche on its winning way in 1970.
Fifty years of the Jaguar E-type will be marked by a ‘wide-ranging collection’ of cars, so the organisers promise. And it’s not all four-wheeled fare, as classic motorcycles will be represented too, with the novel idea of a ride-in from the North London Ace Café. There will also be a Supercar Run from the nearby Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall which will leave just after breakfast, truly kicking the event off in style.
As before, a focus of the event is to raise money for the Royal Hospital Chelsea and the famous, red-coated Chelsea Pensioners, adding valuable funds to the Hospital’s £60m improvement programme.
With its interesting displays, quality cars for sale and trade stands that, in 2010, separated your Editor from his hard-earned, we greatly enjoyed the inaugural Chelsea AutoLegends and can thoroughly recommend this year’s one. The ticket price is an extremely reasonable £20.00 on the gate (£15.00 if booked online) for adults, with accompanied under-12s admitted free.
If the expression ‘fun for all the family’ didn’t make me feel slightly queasy, I’d certainly apply it to this year’s Chelsea AutoLegends. See you there.
The 2011 Chelsea AutoLegends will take place at The Royal Hospital, London SW3 on Sunday 4 September. For further information, visit www.chelseaautolegends.com, or call the ticket hotline on +44 (0)844 581 0760.