A very young Lewis Hamilton first sat behind the wheel of a road car at the event and predictably did well. Rally star Richard Burns, who was at the top of his game at the time, struggled a bit. And 1979 Formula 1 champion Jody Scheckter found it impossible, although I suggested to him that, considering I had once seen him drift a McLaren M23 at 150mph at Silverstone, he shouldn’t feel too bad.
Naturally, before inviting such important and prestigious guests, we carried out a risk assessment. We were happy that the huge concrete inspection ramps just a few metres off the skidpan would be more than adequate to add a bit of danger that would focus our competitors’ minds.
The greatest drifters, we soon discovered, were Lotus chassis engineers. Unlike with drifting today, we used standard cars and tyres and the in-car judge, who was usually me, scored the driver on smoothness: essentially how little he had to steer or pump the throttle. Eventually we moved the contest to race circuits, but the purity was lost.
My favourite Chobham memory? There are many to choose from, but it has to be entering the Snake in a Ferrari 250 GTO with a lot of opposite lock applied, putting a pair of golfers off their putts as a few million quid’s worth of screaming V12 sports car smoked past.
for a few years now, because the opportunity never arises. No matter: I get to regularly relive memories of the place from the comfort of my armchair in front of the telly.