SCD member and contributing writer Rob gives his account of the 2020 Michelin Secret Meet, celebrating 10 years of SCD and seeing a true unicorn car.
Written by: Rob Ward
A change of format last year saw our first Secret Meet at Donington Park, with no famous group photo and no runway to hold us all together. Instead, garages full of historic race cars, rare and exotic hypercars, track time for all who wanted it and charity hot laps throughout the day. It was a huge step forward with some fantastic feedback and it is firmly cemented as the most anticipated event of the year.
A little later than first planned due to a year of cancelled plans, we’re here again for Secret Meet 2020. Being October this time, the light faded quickly the night before as we waited for the previous track day to finish before we could allow the race teams through to their garages to set up for our big day.
Transporters were arriving every 20 minutes. Single car trailers, double-decker trucks and some 40-foot artic’ trailers generating small crowds. Joe Macari’s trailer was one of the first to drop its tailgate. Maserati MC12 GT1, Dallara Stradale, Yellow Ferrari F50, 250 SWB and matching F12 TDF and LaFerrari causing the obligatory picking of our favourite.
First Point Insurance’s truck was next with Mr JWW’s F12 TDF and 992 Turbo S, and the Production Bunker Pagani Huayra. Next up, another truck arrived with the Production Bunker Koenigsegg Regera, a Pagani Zonda Nero, Carrera GT Zagato and an Agera R. The eerie, dull and cold unloading area was now awash with colour and cold starts!
The arrival of the Pagani truck sent Adam into an excitable spin knowing what was onboard. Another huge trailer, this time full of Horacio’s masterpieces including a Zonda R and, surprisingly, a black F50 — all a strong hint that the following day was going to be a level above last year.
A walk through the garages was next to offer assistance with unloading, which also made for an opportunity for some photos before the crowds arrived the next day. Race cars were being tentatively unloaded in the now harsh, artificial light of each canopy, front splitters and rear diffusers closely monitored for their proximity to the hard concrete.
Adam then received an email that summed up so many things in so few words. “I’m afraid I’m unable to bring the GT40, however, I shall bring a silver McLaren F1 instead”, James Cottingham, DK Engineering.
The somewhat nonchalant tone of this email really highlights the level of presence this event has in these circles, that dealerships like DK Engineering will invest in such valuable and important cars to be present.
As the final jobs were completed, adrenaline dispersed and excitement turned to tiredness, so we retired to our hotels. The ground remained dry and our fingers were tightly crossed that it stayed that way.
Unfortunately, that didn’t quite work, but a rainy start on the morning of the event didn’t dampen spirits and activity had ramped up by the time we arrived back at the track. More teams and privateers had arrived and presentation was now key. Further rich cold starts filled the air as cars were taken from the security of the garages to the sponsor tents and three Ferrari F50s were perfectly positioned in front of the Garage 39 entrance waiting to be joined by the other three that would be driven up by their owners — a fitting nod to the 25th Anniversary of the icon.
Jonty and Adam darted about throughout the morning in the near-identical M3 support cars, conveying intricate details of the day. Days like this do not just go ahead on a whim, and although to us all, it seems to play out gracefully like a swan on the water, having been there behind the scenes, there is a great amount of fine detail that is managed by the entire SCD team. In the background, below the surface, the swan’s legs are kicking furiously!
Sponsors started to arrive and the light of day sees the clouds clear and a welcome show of sun. There was a strong Bugatti presence this year from HR Owen with the chassis number 1 Divo, thanks to a long-term SCD member, a Veyron driven all the way from Kent, thanks to Simon Furlonger, as well as a number of Chirons. Finally, a Bugatti baby made its debut, an electric single-seater based on a miniature Type 35 but capable of around 40mph — a perfect addition to any collector’s garage and a light- hearted addition to this one.
Tom Hartley Jnr graced his garage with the McLaren F1 GTR Longtail, affectionately known as Squiggles, alongside an experimental prototype P1 and a Senna — how rare to see all of these together outside of Woking! Furthermore, a LaFerrari and an incredible 1974 Lancia Stratos finished his fantastic lineup, not to mention, Tom’s personal 288 GTO!
Tom and Carl Hartley were in a garage a few doors down with a Koenigsegg Agera RSN, one of just four UK Agera RS models, a classically specced 458 Speciale and not to forget Carl’s latest acquisition, the Pagani Huayra.
It is noticeably surreal when I nearly overlook the Aventador SVJ sharing the garage, even though it is painted in one of the brightest yellows seen on a car.
When I joined SCD, never did I think I could be in the vicinity of a £300k Lamborghini and almost walk past it, but the level of rarity of some of the cars makes you a little numb to anything we now see more often thanks to our visits to dealers like Tom.
I walked down the garage row further to see the treats we saw being unloaded from Joe Macari’s transporter the night before. Matching LaFerarri and F12 TDFs, a Dallara Stradale to be used for the charity hot laps, and his Ferrari 250GT SWB. Those who know of Joe will be aware that he can pedal, and to have brought something like this to our event for use on track is seriously special. I managed to stay at Joe’s garage long enough to watch him take SCD member Molly for her hot laps and the smile on her face when she got out was testimony to Joe’s ability and the unforgettable experience of such a car.
DK engineering, true to their aforementioned email, brought along the silver McLaren F1 road car, which alone is only the second F1 road car to attend an SCD event, however, the F1’s garage mate is something I never thought I’d see in the flesh. One of 25 road cars ever built, 6-litre AMG V12, dihedral doors, sequential gearbox, the Mercedes CLK GTR was by far the car of the day for me. It is so fitting that Tom Hartley Jnr brought the F1 GTR Longtail on the same day James Cottingham brought the CLK GTR and they were on track together for the lunchtime hypercar parade. To see this combination these days is seriously a once in a lifetime experience.
I was surprised that the CLK GTR is so quiet on start-up, no explosion of noise to deafen the bystanders, idle seems unassuming and even under load it is subtle in comparison to more modern V12s, but it was a dream to behold nonetheless. Thank you, DK Engineering.
Throughout the day, historic F1, F2 and F5000 cars screamed passed the pit wall and I was thankful for the lack of any noise limits. I am too young to have properly appreciated some of these cars in their heyday, but the sound and smells emanating from their garages gave me such a taste for what it must have been like.
Group C, Le Mans prototypes and GT cars offered much the same, albeit with a much deeper pitch. The Judd V10 of the Dallara SP1, V8 of the Jaguar XJR-14 and the twin-turbo V8 of the Bentley GT3 race car are sounds I will remember for a long time. Even commentator Chris Dawes stopped mid- announcement to appreciate the Dallara’s epic sound ricochet around the windows of the viewing platform.
Laughter and memories of past events were exchanged with fellow members to the incredible background noise — the result of 10 years of building the behemoth of a brand that SCD has become.
As I touched on above, sponsors, dealerships, race teams, collectors and members don’t and won’t simply bring cars like this out for anyone. The sheer value and rarity of UK owned cars on display and driving around the track is a testament to the level of admiration that they have for the SCD team and so fitting for the 10-year anniversary celebrations that we got to enjoy them up close and personal.
A huge thank you to all who supported the day by bringing with you such an eclectic and high-quality collection of cars, some of which are fresh out of the box — the Praga R1T in particular. A skeletal, carbon chassis and body of LMP-style aero, weighing just 620kg and with a 2-litre turbocharged Renault Alpine engine, it’s like a go-kart with gears and 100 years of history. See issue 37 for their story as a new SCD sponsor and page 51 of this issue for Miles Lacey’s account of the R1T around Donington.
Thank you also to the Bell Sport and Classic crew who, towards the end of the day, allowed me three laps as a passenger in their 430 Challenge car and helped me to appreciate the effects of slicks and wings! It was great to see this on track alongside the later 458 and 488 Challenge cars as a comparison.
Oli Webb was in attendance again driving all sorts of exotica and giving charity hot laps in the Huracan Super Trofeo, a mere 24 hours after being in Nevada challenging the production car land speed record with SSC.
Thank you to Michelin for their continued title sponsorship, support of SCD and significant presence throughout the event including their garage which also featured some treats including a wonderfully filthy Koenigsegg One:1.
Pagani’s garage with the outrageous Zonda R sat alongside the road-going Zonda Nero for comparison attracted crowds throughout the day, and one SCD member brought a car I don’t think any of us had seen in the flesh before, a brand-new McLaren Speedtail.
What I loved was the enthusiasm from everyone who was there, even more so after the year we’ve all had. As well as the sheer amount of cars that turned up, how lovely it was to see a whole paddock full of variety; whether an Aston Martin, McLaren or Porsche, they were all appreciated and all someone’s pride and joy.
You the members of course make SCD what it is. You don’t just bring the cars, you bring with you the passion and shared appreciation for everything SCD has been built around, without which events like this wouldn’t happen.
Alongside the smiles and hours of memories shared, there’s a mutual respect between us all that forms the basis of a community of like- minded owners and enthusiasts contributing to the success and consistent growth of SCD over the last 10 years, and this event was the ultimate celebration of that.
Adam, Jonty, Riad, Debbie, Rachel, Luke, Jake, Matt, Tim and Dan and to each and every member, happy 10 years of Supercar Driver and here’s to another 10 years of making memories and experiencing things you just couldn’t anywhere else.
This feature was taken from issue 38 of the SCD magazine, you can get your own copy using the button below.