Motorsport on Parade

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Motorsport on Parade

What started off as a one-off celebration of motorsport in a sleepy market town has, in three short years, grown into an annual automotive extravaganza with a unique flavour.

Where most shows target a specific theme, be that classics motorsport or historics, and then either keep everything static or slap on a hefty entrance fee to watch the action, the novel Ormskirk Motorfest formula combines traditional static displays with a two-hour window of action on closed roads. And it’s all for free.

Organised by Aintree Circuit Club, which can trace it’s history back to the days when Stirling Moss won the British GP at the iconic northern circuit, the original Motorfest was conceived as a celebration of motorsport, exchanging market stalls in the town centre with classic F1, rally cars and classic racing motorcycles before parading them around the ring road for a couple of hours.

Doing that at RTA speeds wasn’t expected to generate high levels of excitement but the reality was a vast crowd some three times the best ever market day with spectators ten deep around the course creating an atmosphere likened by some to the Isle of Man TT or an English road rally in the sixties.

Undoubtedly, a key element in Motorfest’s success is cost. Against rising costs in general, Ormskirk Motorfest remains a completely free event. It is free for participants to enter their vehicles and free for visitors, which has resulted in the event becoming the region’s largest free to attend family day out.

But nothing stands still and Motorfest is developing – fast. Where the first events celebrated motorsport with classic F1 cars and racing motorcycles – displays included the ex-Jones F1 Williams and ex-Hill BRM, and the motorcycle parade was led by Phil Read – for the first time, this year’s Motorfest will introduce real competition in the form of a closed-to-club AutoSolo event running prior to the parades. Competitors include Gary Wright (MG ZR Rally) who is currently leading his class in the British Rally Championship, Tim Hodges –(Ford Fiesta ST – this is Becky Kirvan’s car), David Burns (Vauxhall Corsa Super 1600), Ryan Burns (17) (Nissan Micra Formula 1000) and others.

Along with club Chairman Mike Ashcroft in his race MG and newly crowned 2013 Ginetta G50 Champion Sean Huyton, the AutoSolo competitors will also drive in the later parades, mixing with a diverse assembly of automotive history ranging from a ‘squadron’ of 13 bubble cars to a full grid of F1 and F2 Stock Cars. Sean Huyton will actually have a choice of cars since he is bringing both the G50 he drove in the race series and his G55 prize,

Taking pride of place this year will be the stunning Bentley Speed 8 race car. Slated for static display, there is also a possibility that this car may also take to the circuit in the parades.

‘Traditional classic car shows are great social occasions’ said Messerschmitt bubble car owner David Tattersall, ‘but what makes the Ormskirk Motorfest so special is that we don’t just sit around for hours talking, we get to drive our cars and the public respond to that.’

Against a backdrop of deep hitting spending cuts and expensive leisure attractions, the Motorfest formula is bearing fruit in a little market town in the North West, although perhaps that formula might not work elsewhere. At one mile in length the one-way ring road completely encircles the historic market town and when closed to normal traffic is an ideal readymade active circuit with static displays in the ‘infield’ becoming the parade paddocks. The free event draws crowds from all over the region, the local council keep all town centre car parks free of charge for the day and to support local traders the organiser bans mobile food sales from the town centre. That working partnership between organiser, council and local traders is priceless.

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