We return to Suffolk for another petrol-fuelled weekend at an event which has quickly become a highlight in our calendar, Heveningham Concours.
Written by: Adam Thorby
Many of you may be wondering what makes Heveningham Concours special. If a display of around 50 of the very best of pre-war, post-war and supercars laid out on the terraces behind the Georgian hall isn’t enough, there is the chance to see an array of supercars and race cars going head to head on Horsepower Hill for the fastest time, along with a selection of the world’s finest propeller aeroplanes, which compete in a separate aviation concours in the heart of the parkland.
If that still isn’t enough, the Country Fair attracts over 20,000 visitors over the weekend with dog shows, agricultural vehicles and local arts and crafts, plus much more that you might not expect, such as aerobatic displays, Spitfire fly-pasts and F1 power boats on the lake.
It is an event we look forward to for a variety of reasons. Every year the sun is shining, there is sheer excitement wondering which cars Lois Hunt has assembled in the concours, that tingling anticipation about what other treats will be in store throughout the weekend courtesy of our gracious hosts and, for a change, we are able to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labour.
Now in its fourth year, it’s still somehow one of the best-kept secrets on the calendar, and this year we had been invited back for the second year running to join them for the long weekend with a group of SCD members who would be participating in the Heveningham Tour on the Friday and Horsepower Hill over the weekend. We returned to Sibton Park, a Georgian manor house forming part of the Heveningham Wilderness Estate, and called it home for the weekend.
Even Jonty would be proud of my blagging skills as I somehow convinced SCD member James (thank you!) to lend me his Ferrari 360 CS on the Friday, and I had the arduous task of leading 20 supercars on the Heveningham Tour. It was a 60-mile jaunt around Suffolk for concours participants and select owners with a Cold War-themed ‘Putin’s Picnic’ courtesy of our gracious hosts, the Hunt family.
So much of what makes this event what it is are the personal touches and hospitality offered by our hosts — they really know how to put on a party. We had lunch, live music, classic and modern cars parked side by side, and of course, a Putin’s picnic wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from the man himself (or at least a lookalike!), and a tour of the runway with a special donut area for anyone who wanted to let off some steam and tyre smoke!
One personal highlight was being chased by Jon Hunt in a race liveried F40 GT as the convoy worked its way through the Suffolk countryside, attracting smiles and waves as we meandered through towns and quaint villages in a multi-million-pound convoy up to the coast at Aldeburgh for a quick rendezvous by the sea, before eventually stopping for lunch at Bentwaters Park.
Each year Jon Hunt shares a snippet of his incredible car collection with fellow enthusiasts and the line-up this year was quite frankly mind-blowing. With the F50 on my bedroom wall as a kid, I have idolised that car for as long as I can remember, along with the F40 and the various iterations of it. Imagine seeing a 288 GTO, 288 Evoluzione, road legal F40 GT and F40 LM, F50, Enzo, LaFerrari and LaFerrari Aperta, all lined up in order of their evolution. To see one or two of those cars together would be a special moment, to see them all was without doubt a one-off opportunity, particularly the F40 LM and 288 Evo — both true unicorn cars.
On the Saturday, Horsepower Hill made a return, bigger and better than the year before complete with a donut area for post-run celebrations and big screens to watch all the action. Hundreds of spectators watched the action unfold and competition was fierce between SCD members James and Chris in the Pista and P1 with less than half a second separating them, but the Pista took the Horsepower Hill crown in the end, although predictions for the car of choice next year are already underway!
Iconic race cars also took to the hill and wowed the crowds including Nick Mason’s thunderous Ferrari 512 S and an unsilenced Jaguar XJR-15 race car. Where else can you see these kind of cars up close and personal?
On the Sunday, thirty SCD members joined us at Sibton Park before convoying down the main drive. We had Max Hunt greet us at the gates to Heveningham in the LaFerrari and he led us all down to the main event in a cloud of tyre smoke. Thanks Max, we wouldn’t expect anything less!
With such variety, there is something for everyone in the concours, but one car in particular caught my attention immediately — the TOMS Taka-Q Toyota 88C. Growing up around motorsport was without doubt the catalyst for my love of cars, and I have a photo in my office of four-year-old me sitting in that very car back in the day when my dad was chief engineer on the project. Never did I expect to see it again, so to be reunited again thirty years on and have the chance to recreate the photo was a lovely memory, although it wasn’t quite so easy to fold myself into the cockpit this time!
It is important to note the charity focus of the event too, with all proceeds and profits going into a charitable trust which funds a local dementia unit and various cases of need in the area.
We are already excited about next year based on what the team has achieved over the last four years. It’s no surprise Heveningham Concours won ‘Best Breakthrough Event of the Year’ at the 2018 Octane Heritage Motoring Awards in London. Like many, we hold it in high esteem.
With so much packed into a weekend, it is way more than just a concours, a country fair or a ‘live’ motorsport event; it’s the unique combination of these different elements that makes it special, without the corporate focus of events like the Festival of Speed.
With our 10 year anniversary in 2020, we are already lining up various celebratory events and we are excited for Heveningham Concours to form one of those where we hope to engage more SCD members in the magic that is Heveningham Concours.