With the country basking in the hottest June day since 1976, it was of course apt that the only rain cloud circulating the UK was instated overhead of the third annual Lookers Track Day, based within the boundaries of Croft Circuit in Darlington.
However, spirits were certainly not dampened, as through the biblical early-morning rainfall lay millions of pounds worth of high-octane, face-ripping, trouser-evacuating supercars, all tantalisingly poised in wait ahead of the rubber-burning extravaganza.
The event offered lucky petrol-heads a chance to pull on their driving gloves and experience the most star-studded line-up since the launch of Tidal’s music streaming service, with the plethora of automotive magnificence on offer rivalling that of even Chris Evans’ personal collection.
A selection featuring the jaw-droppingly stunning Ferrari 488 Spider, headrest-pinning Nissan GTR Nismo, frankly-scary Mercedes-AMG GTR, thrill-providing Ariel Atom and an Audi R8 that nearly forced my colleague’s lunch combination of succulent lamb chops and a handful of Haribo strawbs to reappear.
“I couldn’t speak to the instructor as I was scared to open my mouth in case sick came out”, a true reflection of Chris’ hot-lap experience.
However, blasting around the just over two-mile ribbon of tarmac was far from the only attraction throughout the Lookers Track Day.
Guests were able to get their trousers dirty, (this time voluntary and not due to professional driver Johnny Mowlem’s behind-the-wheel antics), as they took on the Rage Buggies, which would have provided a fitting music video to Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round. The occasional downpour coupled with the grassy track’s degradation created a setting tougher to master than that of the Crystal Maze. However, it offered a scenario where those in attendance could really test their nerve, which they did, a lot.
After that, the off-road theme continued, with the opportunity to become at one with the muddy terrain in a pair of Land Rover Defenders, which seemed to help more of the turf get inside the vehicle than deflect as guests battled through the rain-sodden circuit.
As some emerged looking like a camouflaged sniper in a ghillie suit following their 4×4 expedition, guests were then whisked away to stunt driver Paul Swift, whose j-turns, parallel parks via a handbrake turn (which made your unsuccessful attempts as a 17-year-old trying to impress a girl you fancied even more shameful. Oh, just me?), and two-wheeled madness in a Ford Focus provided a 90 minutes that will be remembered for a long time.
Aside from an action-packed day of motoring-mayhem, the Lookers Track Day raised an incredible £40,000 for charity 353 with help from an evening reception at Rockliffe Hall and a prize auction. Opportunities such as a Red Devils skydive, a private-helicopter transferred two-night stay in Monaco and a corporate box at Durham County Cricket Club certainly proved popular.
353 gains its name from Private Conrad Lewis, who sadly became the 353rd British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan, and supports injured servicemen and women as well as friends and families of those who have sacrificed their lives in the field of conflict.
All in all the Lookers Track Day proved one not to miss, spoiled only by someone beating my F1 simulator time by 0.2 seconds, but, honestly, I’m over it now. There were only two tickets for the 2018 Silverstone Formula 1 Grand Prix up for grabs. I mean, who would want them anyway?