THIS year’s two revving and rocking CarFest family festivals have been hailed as the ‘biggest and best yet’, raising record funds for BBC Children in Need.
CarFest South – the second of the cars, cakes and music extravaganzas inspired by BBC Radio 2 broadcaster Chris Evans – was staged at Laverstoke Park Farm near Basingstoke over the August Bank Holiday weekend (22-24 August).
Once again the star-studded event was a total sell-out. When added to the proceeds from CarFest North held earlier this month at Oulton Park in Cheshire, award-winning CarFest is set to raise £1.5million for disadvantaged children and young people across the UK.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you… here's to everyone who has helped make this year's two wonderful CarFests ever bigger, even brighter and even better than ever before,” enthused Evans.
“Most importantly they've raised record amounts of money for BBC Children in Need, so while we've being having so much fun, it's great to know that this money is hard at work elsewhere in the UK helping others have a better time, too.
“We just love what we've created with CarFest. It's so cool to see so many families out there getting involved and having such a brilliant party time – whether it's watching all the fabulous cars, dancing along to all the fab bands or enjoying all the incredible sideshows.
"I've absolutely no idea what we're going to do next year, but we keep raising the bar higher and higher, so I guess we'll just have to do it all over again!"
Highlights came thick and fast during the three high-octane days at Laverstoke. Fronted by Evans’ own ‘Magnificent Seven’ collection of fabulous Ferraris, the central Hill Climb featured a host of weird and wonderful machines ranging from priceless supercars to motorised items of furniture.
Motor sport personalities present included former F1 team bosses Patrick Head and Nick Fry while those performing on the Hill Climb included multiple Grand Prix winner Mark Webber, Bruno Senna and Jody Schecker – the 1979 F1 World Champion who owns the organic/biodynamic Laverstoke Park Farm venue.
Webber wowed the crowd with a fund-raising blast in a range-topping Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet, Senna did likewise behind the wheel of a Honda NSX once driven by his uncle Ayrton Senna while Scheckter stormed up his own farm drive in a selection of his Ferrari and Tyrrell GP winners.
Mark Webber and Pudsey
“This is a great vision and a cracking weekend; what’s more it’s all for a great cause,” expounded a relaxed Webber. “The collection of cars is sensational with all shapes and sizes from sofas that do 90mph through to all sorts of Formula One cars from different generations. It doesn’t matter what kind of automotive anyone is into, there’s something for everybody.”
The spectacular power show continued in the skies, too, with numerous awe-inspiring aerobatics and fly pasts topped by a stunning dusk display on Saturday evening by the astounding RAF Red Arrows.
Back down on Earth, tens of thousands of visitors were treated to a wealth of family entertainment as well as some mouth-watering festival food. Indeed fine cuisine is another of the main CarFest pillars, and a feast of top TV chefs was lapping up the fun-filled atmosphere at Laverstoke.
Saturday Kitchen presenter James Martin was present with several of his classic road and race cars, while Michelin starred restaurateur Tom Kerridge assisted Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry from the Great British Bake Off to judge the hugely popular Cakes v Pies competition.
Despite Hollywood’s best efforts championing the pie-makers, Berry’s team came out on top with the 13-year-old Sophie's delicious double layer chocolate and orange cake receiving the popular vote from the 20,000 fans in front of the Main Stage.
With award-winning broadcaster Evans introducing the bands, it was no surprise that the musical line-up at CarFest South was every bit as exciting. Friday night’s entertainment concluded with 1980s chart-toppers Erasure, while Sunday’s stirring show included Texas, 10cc, Paul Heaton from the The Housemartins and The Beautiful South, The Feeling, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Jamie Cullum.
Saturday evening’s jam-packed programme was topped by blues legend Seasick Steve and a rousing performance by the Kaiser Chiefs which ended with a twist when lead singer Ricky Wilson and bass guitarist Simon Rix were given a very public Ice Bucket Challenge by Evans, Hollywood, BBC One Show presenter Alex Jones plus a host of others.
“It was all for a great cause in Macmillan Cancer,” grimaced a shivering Wilson.
Somewhat warmer accolades were presented to three other regular supporters of the event, with Evans appointing Nick Mason – the Pink Floyd drummer and renowned classic car collector – as CarFest’s official Life Chairman, Seasick Steve as Life President and James Martin as ‘Head of Everything Else that We’ve Forgotten’ – in Evans’ inimitable words!
Plans for future CarFests, as well as confirmation of total funds raised for BBC Children in Need in 2014, will be announced in the coming months.
All the latest CarFest news is available via the official website at carfest.org.