This was Brooklands in Surrey, one of the world’s most iconic and historic motor-racing venues, and the event was the 27th annual Auto Italia day, when more than 1,000 Italian cars and their owners created a dazzling array of polished bodywork.
Themed shows have proved lucrative and very popular items on the calendars of many motoring attractions in recent years. Like the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, Brooklands has acquired a new lease of financial life since adopting the formula.
Last Saturday’s Italian event was as glamorous as they come, attracting thousands of people, whether aficionados with their exotic head-turners or entertainment-seeking families rolling up in their Astras and Fiestas.
What remains of Brooklands’ legendary banked circuit, the scene in bygone years of record-breaking exploits and enough motor-racing drama to guarantee a permanent place in motor-racing folklore, became an alfresco showroom-cum-public car park for the day.
The occasional cloudburst was dealt with stoically as visitors took shelter in one of the site’s cafes or museums, or under the vast wings of the Concorde or one of the other aircraft which have made their final landing at this world-famous location.
The cars were the stars, of course, and there can have been few occasions when there were as many examples of Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini gathered together in one place this far north of Milan and Modena.
The supercars may have grabbed the lion’s share of admirers, but the supporting cast was pretty impressive, too, bearing the badges of Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Fiat, Abarth and such rarities such as Innocenti, De Tomaso, Bizzarrini and Iso Rivolta.
The timetable for the day included an hour of demonstration runs for some very special cars on the Mercedes-Benz World handling circuit as well as a session on the famous Brooklands Test Hill.
The Brooklands calendar of events includes ‘1940s Relived’, on 18th May, Supercar Saturday on 27th July, a Mustang and American day on 18th August, and a Rolls-Royce day on 22nd September, as well as many others in between.