With grids crammed with the rarest and greatest supercars and hypercars ever built, the annual Super Car Driver (SCD) Secret Meet at Donnington Park Circuit is now regarded by many as the year’s premier automotive enthusiast event.
A blast? An outrage? A shock? It’s not easy to put your finger on the correct collective noun for the Ferrari F40.
Given the car’s interplanetary craft looks and the fabled ferocious thrust of its 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, high-energy words that summon up the car’s phenomenal performance spring most readily to mind. But the word that best describes the ensemble circumnavigating Donington Park Circuit at the Supercar Driver (SCD) 2022 Secret Meet is strangely ever so slightly soporific.
A dream of Ferrari F40s sounds right because, really, it’s impossible not to look at 20 blood-red examples that just keep coming and coming and coming, muscling their way around the track, and not feel tempted to pinch yourself to make sure you are actually awake.
The high-speed parade is proof that the SCD team has once again excelled itself. And it’s not just the F40. All the Ferrari ‘Big Five,’ those absolute titans of the modern Maranello era, are on show, with equally jaw-dropping examples of the 288 GTO, F50, Enzo and LaFerrari interspersed amongst the F40s.
SCD member Heath Gray brought his Ferrari F40 to the event. “I always wanted an F40, I bought this one 21 years ago, and it still excites me every I drive it. You can feel absolutely everything the road offers coming through the steering wheel. And you’ve always got to have your wits about you too. It’s not like driving a modern supercar. You can’t just put your foot down and rely on an array of electronic aids to get you out of trouble,” explains Heath.
There is one aspect of the F40’s character that Heath feels is much maligned. “There’s a lot of talk about the turbo lag with these cars, but it is not as bad as people say. If you keep the engine just below 3,500rpm, it will always respond the instant you press the throttle. A friend of mine has a Ferrari 488 Pista, and the F40 can out-accelerate it.”
Even though the last F40 left the production line forty years ago in 1992, it rightly still merited a place on the front row of the grid of SCD’s Hypercar parade, too, albeit in elite ‘Competizione’ guise. And it was in some phenomenally exclusive company alongside a Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, a Porsche 911 GT1, a Bugatti EB110 SS, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss, a Koenigsegg CCXR Edition, Porsche Carrera GT and a Lamborghini Reventon and a Maserati MC 12 Versione Corse to name but a few.
Derived from the MC12 GT1 racing car that won the 2005 FIA GT world endurance championship, just thirteen track-focused MC 12 Versione Corse examples were built in 2006. So, to see one in action and hear the howl of its 755hp naturally aspirated V12 engine is a very rare treat – even more so when it is the only white MC 12 Versione Corse ever produced.
“This car has never even been driven before, and today is the first time it has gone around a racetrack. It has been sitting in a private collection with all the spare parts for it in glass boxes and was still on the original tyres”
Explained Davide de Giorgi of Girardo & Co, the company that recently transacted the sale of the MC 12 to its new owner.
While most of the supercars and hypercars in action were from manufacturers with decades of experience in building ultra-desirable road cars, that was not the case for all. The Dallara name has been behind some of the world’s greatest racing cars since the company was founded 40 years ago. But despite its vast experience, the company has never created a road car until recently. Enter the Dallara Stradale, which was launched in 2019 and earned a 4.5-star road test rating by Autocar.
The Dallara Stradale is distributed exclusively in the UK by London-based specialists Joe Macari. “The car features a full carbon tub, weighs 800 kilos, has 850 kilos of downforce and is powered by the engine from the Ford Focus RS,” revealed Sales Executive Franco Granell. “With its aero package and the agility the chassis provides, it can dance rings around some cars with twice the power on the track.” One had only to witness the Dallara Stradale in the hands of Harrison Newey around Donnington to see the truth of that statement.
McLaren’s new Artura was also turning plenty of heads, albeit as a static display. “The Artura represents the next generation of a supercar for the company and uses hybrid technology to enhance performance,” said the company’s Head of Private Office, Jonathan Maynard. “Given the knowledgeable supercar owners in attendance, the SCD Secret Meet is the perfect place to showcase the Artura.”
Maynard acknowledged that with its hardcore internal combustion engine fanbase, the event was something of a tough gig to play for a next-generation electrified supercar. However, he was pleased with the response the Artura was generating. “People are coming up and asking, ‘Why hybrid?’ And that gives us the opportunity to explain how the hybrid system adds to the driving experience.”
The fact that a manufacturer of the calibre of McLaren chose to exhibit a car as significant as the Artura shows just how seriously the industry now takes the SCD Secret Meet. Bentley was also there, and as well as displaying some of its latest road cars, it had one model in action on the track that neither love nor money could buy.
That car was the Bentley Speed 8 that won the Le Mans 24 Hours race in 2003 in the hands of Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Guy Smith, with the latter back behind the wheel at Donington.
“The Speed 8 doesn’t get run very often, but it’s important that it does not end up mothballed forever in a museum. It’s a real honour to get to drive it again. It just brings back such amazing memories,” revealed Guy. “But I can’t believe that it’s twenty years old now. I am lucky enough to still get to drive modern prototype race cars, and the Speed 8 still feels like a modern car and right on the pace.”
In addition to still being deeply impressed by the car he drove to victory at Le Mans almost two decades ago, Guy was blown away by the event itself. “I had no idea what to expect. I thought it would be like a small car meet for about 100 people. And then, when I was coming close to the circuit and seeing all the cars and all the photographers on the roads outside, it felt like being at a Formula One event or something. It’s just amazing. Some of the supercars that are here are so rare, and you just don’t get to see them that often at all.”
JBR Capital Founder and Executive Director Darren Selig shared Guy’s sentiments: “I think SCD’s Secret Meet is now the premier enthusiasts’ event in the calendar. Where else can you experience the sight, sound and smell of so many supercars and hypercars being driven hard around a track?”
For Darren, the highlight was the chance to participate in the Ferrari demonstration. “I got to ride in the La Ferrari with Selena Bailey. I’d never been in one before, and it was interesting because, in many ways, that car is the next iteration of the F50, which is still my dream car. It was a fantastic experience, and it does make you wonder what on earth SCD will do for next year’s Secret Meet.
To find out, we’ll just have to wait another 12 months and then, who knows what supercar dreams may come again.
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