Sunday, 26 August 2012

Look out comes Pentillie!

One of the biggest disadvantages, for me at least, about being born and living in the South West of England is the serious lack of motorsport activity taking place. For example, the closest 'proper' race circuit is at Castle Combe near Bristol - a two and a half hour drive from my home in Plymouth. Don't get me wrong though; I'm not slagging the South West off, far from it. It's a beautiful part of the world (despite the weather) and I'm really happy here. But the lack of motorsport has always impacted on me.

I was out with a friend a few weeks ago and noticed a sign by the side of a rural road promoting a 'festival of speed'. This took me by surprise a bit and I didn't really think about it again, until I saw a short report on BBC Spotlight (our local TV station) a couple of days ago. Instantly I knew this was the event that the sign I'd seen several days earlier related to - the inugeral Pentillie Festival of Speed, near Saltash in Cornwall.

After my experience at the British GP earlier this year at Silverstone, where the weather had caused chaos with the car parks, I wasn't going to take any chances here. It was only a thirty minute drive to the venue, Pentillie Castle, the other side of the river Tamar from Plymouth. I purposely got there early and I was glad I did - the fields where already muddy from a horrid day the day before, so I predicted a chaotic scene later in the day when everyone started to leave. Other than a bit of wheel spin, I parked without a problem - but was less positive when thinking about getting out later!

After quite a lengthy walk with all my photographic equipment, I got to a hairpin bend and saw some of the competitors practicing. This got busier, so I moved more towards the castle once the 'crossing' had opened for fifteen or so minutes after one of the practice sessions. This was a good decision as, in addition to seeing the cars continue up a different part of the course, there were static displays of some stunning cars (an old Mercedes W192 replica, a WRC Subaru Impreza, a 1930's Bentley to name a few), all set against a beautiful setting within the fine grounds of the castle. The views of the Tamar valley were simply stunning also, particularly as the weather had stayed dry and - amazingly - featured some sun too. After completing a lap of the course and achieving some photos I was happy with, I left early to avoid the traffic issues I'd predicted as I mentioned earlier.

A modified Mini at the Pentillie Festival of Speed 2012

The amount of people attending surpassed my expectations and I'm sure it made the organisers happy. A combination of a bank holiday, good weather and a great mix of cars proved popular.  For the first year it was fantastic in my opinion - with particular highlights being the stunning location, good signage, great toilet facilities and helpful staff. Good beer, too!

There were negatives too though, but these aren't meant to be overly critical as it was the first running of the event. There should be more crossings in the future, improved access via paths and (in an ideal world, which totally depends on budget) tarmaced car parks - but if Silverstone can't event afford this, Pentillie can never be expected to do the same.

I'm just delighted that (at last) a motorsport event, which plans to expand, has been put on in this part of the world. Long may it continue! Well done to the organisers.

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