THE roads of southern England will be chock-a-block with Italian cars over successive weekends in May thanks to two big gatherings.
First off is the biggest gathering of Italian cars in the UK for the annual Italian Car Day at Brooklands, in Surrey, taking place on Saturday 5th May.
Then, closer to home, at the wonderful setting of Beaulieu in the heart of Hampshire’s New Forest, the second ‘Simply Italian’ event is scheduled for Sunday 13th May.
Lay-bys right across the south will doubtless be overflowing with broken-down Lancias and overheating Maseratis, but those that reach their destinations are sure to attract aficionados of motoring exotica as well as fans of all things Italian.
Mention of the name Brooklands conjures up images of historic motor-racing and all the glamour and drama associated with the sport. Last year’s Italian day saw more than 2,000 Italian cars – including 240 Ferraris – assemble on the banking and around the grounds of the world’s first purpose-built circuit, and this year’s event looks set to smash all previous records.
“The greatest thing about the event is that it welcomes Italian car enthusiasts and owners, regardless of whether they own a famous historic racing car, the latest road-going Ferrari, a much-loved classic or the smallest, most affordable modern Fiat on the market,” says event organiser Phil Ward of GB Promotions. “Anyone who turns up in an Italian car or motorcycle forms part of the display, rather than being merely a spectator.”
The static displays are just part of the occasion. Despite closing for racing in 1939, Brooklands is still a vibrant venue with a spectacular museum and stretches of the original banking from its pre-war racing history. The ‘test hill’ and the Mercedes-Benz world test track will be used to run selected Italian cars during the day.
“We ran the first Italian Car Day at Syon Park in 1986,” recalls Phil, “when it was a champagne picnic with just 85 people. Ten years later we moved to Brooklands and the event has grown and evolved until it’s become the UK’s largest gathering of Italian cars and Brooklands’ biggest event of the year. But we remain true to our original aim of providing a real enthusiasts’ event, with a low entry price, to cater for everyone who owns – or simply admires – Italian cars and motorcycles.”
The Beaulieu event eight days later will doubtless see many of the Brooklands attendees, as well as many petrol-heads and families from this area.
Owners of Italian vehicles are invited to bring their car or motorcycle to Beaulieu and become part of the event. All the famous and most glamorous ‘Italian stallions’ will be out in force. Admission to the event includes entry to the whole Beaulieu attraction.
Motoring theme days are proving a smash-hit at Beaulieu and Simply Italian is just one of many being held this year. They include Ford on 6th May, American on 24th June, French on 8th July, German on 22nd July, James Bond cars on 29th July, Japanese on 5th August, 4×4 on 12th August, classics on 26th August, supercars on 27th August and Smart cars on 11th November.