Rick Parfitt, Heston Blumenthal & Brendan Cole race onto the podium
Ex-England footballer Luther Blissett unharmed after spectacular crash
There was high drama at the Silverstone Classic this weekend as 14 celebrities became racing drivers for the day at what is the world’s biggest classic car racing festival. The 14 celebrities who had all undergone special training for the event were raising funds for the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK. Rocker Rick Parfitt Jnr won the race after narrowly defeating Heston Blumenthal and Brendan Cole in a closely fought battle that had the crowds on their feet but the hero of the day was ex-England footballer Luther Blissett who stepped unharmed from the wreckage of his Morgan Roadster lightweight race car after a spectacular barrel-roll on the opening lap.
The race was halted while the battered remains of Blissett’s car were removed from the track but Luther himself was unfazed by the drama. “I dived up the inside of Brendan going into the corner and the back of my car just got away from me,” Luther calmly explained. “It went over the rumble strip, the wheels dug in and over she went… and over, and over – three times in all. I know because I counted the rolls as they were happening! When it stopped, I definitely breathed a sigh of relief but I never felt in any real danger as I knew the Morgan was strong. Has it put me off racing? Not in the slightest. In fact, I’m even more determined to get my own racing car ready to compete at Oulton Park next weekend.”
Starting from pole position, Parfitt Jnr took an early lead when the race was re-started but he had to fight hard for the victory in a four-car battle with Heston, Brendan and Paul O’Duffy (the late Amy Winehouse’s producer). “That was hugely eventful… absolutely brilliant!” Rick declared as he stood on the top step of the podium. “Unlike most of the other drivers out there, I’ve done a bit of racing, but I was absolutely astounded – and very impressed – at how well the likes of Brendan, Heston and Paul did. These Morgan’s are proper race cars – we were pulling 135mph at the end of the Hangar Straight and, trust me, that feels pretty quick! Everyone on this grid is a relative novice but, aside from Luther’s rather spectacular exit, the race went without incident. That last lap was something else – I had to work really hard for this victory and that makes it all the more special.”
Heston Blumenthal, who crashed out of the event last year, was delighted to follow Parfitt Jnr home in second place. “That was absolutely brilliant – and so close,” he declared as he climbed from his car. “On the final lap I really pushed it and managed to get alongside Brendan. I knew my best chance to get past would be at the end of the straight so I braked as late as I dared. I really had to hold my bottle but the move worked and I managed to get the place”.
Cole was equally proud with his podium finish, declaring the race as “one of the best things I’ve ever done.” He said: “It was just amazing… well, bar watching Luther crashing as he came up the inside of me anyway! I’m absolutely delighted to end up on the podium – I’m going to be on a high for a while after that. It really was a phenomenal thing to do and hopefully we’ve raised lots of money for The Bobby Moore Fund at the same time.” All the drivers can still be sponsored via The Bobby Moore Fund website at www.bobbymoorefund.org
The Celebrity Challenge was just part of the entertainment on offer at the Silverstone Classic, which celebrated its 21st anniversary this year. Featuring in excess of 1000 drivers racing more than 800 of the world’s finest competition cars, the event also hosted the official 50th birthday party for the legendary E-type Jaguar. More than 1000 E-types were on site and over 800 took part in a Guinness World Record attempt. Adding to the rich on-track entertainment, the Silverstone Classic also featured a vast array of off-track attractions with festival catering by Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feast, a period fun fair, air displays, parades, and 7000+ classic cars and bikes on display. Live music concerts featuring rock legends Suzi Quatro, 10cc and Wishbone Ash were included in the ticket price and guaranteed a memorable weekend for all the family.
The ‘Celebrity Challenge’ driver line-up included; Jimmy Akingbola (Actor – Holby City),Luther Blissett (ex-England footballer), Sally ‘Traffic’ Boazman (Radio 2 presenter),Heston Blumenthal (chef), Brendan Cole (dancer), Zoe Cole (model), Paul O’Duffy(Music producer – Amy Winehouse), Vicky Gomersall (Sky Sports Presenter), Lee McQueen (‘The Apprentice’ winner), Alexander Nall-Cain (entrepreneur), Rick Parfitt Jr. (musician), Paul Stewart (Drummer – The Feeling), ‘Comedy Dave’ Vitty (Radio 1 presenter), Jo Wood (Organics Entrepreneur).
The Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK raises vital funds for research into bowel cancer and increases public awareness of the disease. The Fund was set up by Stephanie Moore MBE in memory of her husband, footballer Bobby Moore, after his death from the disease in 1993, at just 51. For more information visit www.bobbymoorefund.org