Published in SCD Magazine Issue 31 Spring 2019
Nine years of graft, nine months of planning, nine hours of automotive greatness!
Written by: Rob Ward
Being new to the SCD fold and very much on the outside as a writer, I have never fully appreciated quite how much work goes into organising some of the events, and more to the point, how much this club means to Adam and the team.
I offered my help on the day before this year’s Secret Supercar Meet and arrived around 1 pm to a sun-drenched Donington Park, where brands, sponsors and some of the very early race teams had just started to arrive. The enormity of the empty hypercar area, race garages and SCD member parking in front of us all was a harsh eye-opener for quite how much the team had taken on renting a venue of this scale. Adam had also brought in the help of Rachel Lovett who runs various race championships for a living, whose experience and expertise proved invaluable when it came to running the day.
Adam was understandably on edge, concerned about the intricate details of what he’d just spent the last nine months planning. This was no car enthusiast meet in a local car park anymore, Adam has created a monster that has taken the last nine years to build upon, into what I strongly believe is one of the most highly-regarded car clubs the automotive world has to offer.
With a long-term dream of hosting an event like this on the Grand Prix circuit at Donington Park, I realise now that the last nine years have all been about building SCD up to this event. On top of the personal goal, members have expectations now, they have last year’s Secret Supercar Meet as reference – I mean, how does one go about bettering that? Posts on all of the SCD social media pages had really raised people’s expectations for this year and Adam now had to deliver.
We walked over an empty and somewhat expectant and eerie racetrack that afternoon, discussing the details of the hypercar parade and how each track session would be marshalled. Little did I know at the time how much of a contrast this was to the noise that ensued the next day and the buzz that surrounded
The planning and checking went on late into the afternoon until some of the regular members arrived to start an evening of increasing anticipation. Supercars were unloaded, jokes shared and plans made. This was it, nothing more to do until tomorrow, when the day would finally be upon us.
Many of the members stayed locally that evening and we all awoke to the distinct sign of rain in the air, which was such a shame. How could we have set up the day before with such clear skies and hot sun to then wake up to this? Matt had even sunburnt his head the day before! However, one thing I have learnt about SCD is that no one actually gives a damn on the day. We’re all there for good reason, good times and great cars, and the weather never stops us!
First things first, more preparation. The remainder of the sponsors and race teams had all started to arrive when we got back to the venue, pitches were being set up and seeing all of this colourful precious metal being unloaded really started to make it feel real. Nerves turned into excitement and anticipation for what was about to unfold.
Around 8 am, I attended the first driver briefing to get mine out of the way so I could enjoy the day without rushing back. I’d booked an afternoon track session and wanted to spend the day soaking up every aspect of what was in store. The briefing took a good 40 minutes once I’d got my wristband, so by the time I had got back out into the main car park, things had changed considerably.
You believe the hype, don’t you? You read the Facebook posts with the details leading up to these events and try to picture what to expect, what will be on display, what will be flying around the circuit. You try and visualise the basics, the layout and who you’re going to see. Also, having been to last year’s Secret Meet, I wasn’t completely green to the potential of what could be spending the day here for us to get up close to.
Never have my expectations been quite so inaccurate.
Not only was I completely blown away by the supercars and hypercars being unloaded and parked up in the main car park, but the garages were now awash with some of motorsport’s most exciting, loud and nostalgic models ever to grace a circuit, here to make the most of the no noise limits day. Norwood Racing P4 and McLaren M8F were the two that stuck out for me – deep V8s and V12s that made the ground shake! Then there’s the 1939 Lagonda Le Mans that ticked over at 100 dB – the noise of that is something so special. Classic F1, F5000 from XL Aurora Trophy and a Justin Law Group C Jaguar XJR-12D also assisted the increasing goosebumps!
More cars started to arrive. Carl Hartley in his Veyron seemed to lead a procession of Veyrons and Chirons which took pride of place in front of the race garages with HR Owen Bugatti using the event to celebrate their 110th anniversary, complete with a car from the factory and chief test driver and Le Mans legend Andy Wallace.
I lost count of the XJ220s that graced a similar patch of tarmac thanks to Don Law Racing. It was the first public outing of the V12 XJ220, a representation of the pre-production car which never ran. XJ220 designer Keith Helfet joined us and if that wasn’t enough so did David Brabham who would be driving the XJ220C he raced at Le Mans in 1993!
It was a joy to see SCD member James’ collection of lightweight V8 Ferraris all lined up with his recently delivered Pista taking to the track, seldom in a straight line!
The list goes on, Carrera GT, road-legal P1 GTR, One-77, F40, F50, Enzo, 275 GTB/4, Pagani Huayra Roadster, Koenigsegg Agera R, 2 McLaren Sennas, even a McLaren F1, previously a unicorn for SCD! Where else in the world do you see all these and much more in one place, open air, no red rope, no plaque saying please don’t touch? Well, you don’t to be quite frank. You just don’t!
This is a special time. This is why days like this are a secret, so SCD members can exclusively enjoy being in the presence of these hugely valuable machines, to be trusted, be respectful and be able to speak with owners who are all more than happy to chat, no matter what you’ve arrived in yourself.
It wasn’t long until the first track sessions started, and I think we can all agree on the car that seemed to dominate every single one, both in noise and speed – the Huracan Super Trofeo EVO driven by Oli Webb and Ashley, aka supercaroneleg. When everyone else was squirming around on the slippery hairpin, that thing just seemed to disappear, banging through the gears and spitting flames on every downshift – just epic! Then there was the fully unsilenced WPI Motorsport 991.2 Cup and the XL Leasing 458 Challenge battling out on track and giving hot laps for charity.
If track driving wasn’t for you, with thanks to Synter, we were able to enjoy test drives with the likes of Aston Martin, Bentley and Lamborghini. Members were really impressed with the decent road time they had from these and some of the cars they’d brought with them on the day were well worth putting your name down for.
The rest of the sponsor area was a real pleasure to visit too. Luna Customs brought some lesser spotted American Muscle in the form of a couple of serious Challengers including a widebody Hellcat. Alexanders Prestige made me want to sell a kidney for a Green Hell AMG GT R, TOP 555 had a 991.2 GT3 which perfectly matched the SCD 997, and some of the latest cars were on display from Sytner Aston Martin, Bentley and Lamborghini, as well as displays from XL Leasing, SMC Bikes, APM Customs, Viezu Tuning and Leighton Vans who even took to the track! Also, one of our newer sponsors Xupes had some pretty special items to tear you away from cars for the day should you wish.
On behalf of the SCD team, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Michelin and all of our sponsors for everything you did for us on the day. I won’t list you all but your presence and support all year round is hugely appreciated.
I must say however, to get to the sponsor area, you did have a real problem. It wasn’t just a simple walk from the restaurant, you needed to fight your way through the absolute ocean of colour and spectacle that was the SCD members’ parking area.
May I just take this opportunity to say a massive, collective bravo to every single one of the 350-plus members who graced that car park. It was by far one of the most exciting, eclectic and varied mix of cars, colours and spec choices I have ever seen, and even though Adam and the team had spent months arranging activities both visual and visceral to entertain us all for the day, appreciating the results of people’s hard work was fantastic fun in itself.
I chatted to a good number of the members who’d brought along their latest acquisitions, proudly parking them alongside something of equal interest, yet such differing design and detail. This is what makes a club like SCD so special. I have written about this before interestingly. Before I was asked to write for SCD, I wrote my own blog about last year’s Secret Meet and I just have to make this point once more.
Events like this are thrilling. The quality of the cars that you see, hear and experience are simply out of this world and this year, SCD raised the bar so very high, it is going to be difficult to top it next year and for any other event to come close.
However, what you don’t think of is what really makes events like this so special. What makes you drive away with a huge smile and what helps you to remember the day for weeks and months afterwards – the people you meet.
We all have a common ground once we step into a forum like this. It doesn’t matter what you’ve turned up in, how much it cost or how many of them you have. No one judges, no one boasts. Everyone is here for one reason and that is to appreciate and experience what we all love the most.
I spent all day with like-minded, approachable and receptive people, all of whom were in awe of what SCD had created that day. There was something for everyone, and everyone managed to find something they longed for. Adam had somehow managed to fill the garages and car parks with such an array of precious marques that everyone had managed to see that dream car, that one that got away or the one that tickles the ‘want glands’!
Social media brings people together with unfortunate anonymity at times. Through photos and narration, people find a common appreciation and make reference to mutual opinions or otherwise, which is great. SCD and events such as this are the perfect place to put faces to names and make some solid friendships.
Sharing experiences like this with members you’ll see again is the best way to remember them. You all remember a different aspect of the day ready to debrief when you next meet up. This one was a memorable one for sure. We’ll all be talking about SSM19 for months. This day is not one of those that will disappear from people’s Instagram timelines any time soon.
My track session soon came around, mercifully after the track had dried out as this was my first time around Donington Park besides a go in Chartwell’s 458 VR simulator, which, I might add, was quite an incredible experience!
I made my way to the pit lane to line up and managed to park myself right behind the P1 GTR – not something I’d ever plan to do – as if taking to an unfamiliar track isn’t hard enough, without being behind one of the 21st centuries’ most remarkable and exotic hypercars.
To be honest, I shared the track with all sorts of other daunting cars much faster and driven much better than mine. The aforementioned Huracan Super Trofeo EVO once again managed to take control of the session but I managed to have some epic fun. At one point I was the filling in a sandwich between the Rage off-road buggy (which seemed more than happy on three wheels much of the time) and a member’s DB9. Between us all, we seemed closely matched, which resulted in some particularly joyous laps.
I could feel my pace increasing, confidence growing and knowledge of the track building. I wasn’t close to being the fastest member out there but I didn’t need to be. Everyone respected each other on track and we were all there for the same reason after all. Memorable experiences and practice for next time!
Having driven the Nurburgring, Silverstone and Castle Combe in the past, the Donington GP Circuit in comparison was long enough to keep it interesting but short enough to enable you to quickly memorise the circuit so you aren’t caught out by blind crests. Call me a wimp, but 16 miles of blind corners and the harsh unknown is why I’ll never attempt ‘the ring’ again!
Twenty minutes passed quickly and I was soon shown the chequered flag. I returned back to my parking space to the smell of hot brakes and a huge smile on my face. No spins, no black flags and some more track experience under my belt ready for Anglesey in the summer!
My memory card is full to the brim with the day’s offerings. I spent some time in the hospitality suite taking some panning shots down the start finish straight, while tucking into the top-quality grub. I managed to get some footage of SCD member Harry gliding effortlessly around the back hairpin in Nigel’s GT3 RS and static photos of some proper automotive royalty that I feel so lucky to have been able to capture.
As I said earlier in this article, you simply don’t have opportunities like this very often, not outside of organisations like SCD, so photos, video, good friends to share it with and some significant memories are all you can turn to, until next year. SCD’s 10th anniversary. Adam, where on earth do you go from here?
I would like to finish, while I have the fortune of free speech, by thanking everyone from SCD, Michelin, all of our sponsors, Donington Park staff, marshals, volunteers, race instructors, chefs, race teams, racing drivers, photographers, videographers, car collectors, car transporters and anyone I have missed for helping to orchestrate and curate what I am sure we can all agree was a day of absolute biblical proportions.
Finally, to members alike. You make SCD what it is. You all make days like this more memorable. Only SCD and its members can turn a cold and wet Donington Park into the venue that hosted the event that will be spoken about for years to come and just happened to raise £20,450 for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in the process with more still to add from Gift Aid. An additional £1500 was also donated to the Bassetlaw Hospice in Retford as a chosen charity of the marshals from Worksop Motor Club who helped us on the day.
Well done SCD family!