Chalke History Festival unveils spectacular lineup of motorsport legends

Chalke History Festival unveils spectacular lineup of motorsport legends

The celebrated Chalke History Festival returns for 2024 and incorporates the motor car for the first time in its 14-year history
Speakers will include TV presenter and journalist James May, Dutch racing driver Jan Lammers, Italian former F1 driver Emanuele Pirro, award-winning author Jason Barlow plus former motorsport presenter Richard Sutton to name a few
Special talks will explore topics such as the evolution of the automotive industry, the soul of the machine, and the impact of modern and electrified cars on automotive culture
Historic WW2 warbirds the Spitfire and the Hurricane also return to the skies over the Chalke Valley after a six-year hiatus, coinciding with the 80th anniversary of D-Day
The Chalke History Festival will run from 24th June – 30th June 2024

The Chalke History Festival, renowned as the most celebrated history festival in the world, and one of the UK’s most popular summer events, is incorporating motoring speakers and talks for the first time in its 14-year history. Nestled in the picturesque Wessex countryside, this unique event is poised to draw in diverse crowds of all ages this year (24th to 30th June). Offering an array of eclectic talks, captivating performances, and immersive living history experiences, it has all the elements of a quintessential English summer festival: vibrant tents, delicious food and drink, camping beneath the stars and an enchanting atmosphere. Anticipation is high for this year's line-up, which promises to be the most expansive and impressive one yet.

One of the headline motoring-themed acts featured in the wide-ranging programme will be television presenter and journalist James May. Best known as the co-presenter, alongside Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond, of the motoring programme Top Gear and the television series The Grand Tour, May has dedicated a lifetime to intimately studying cars of different speeds, purposes, sizes and ages. Having travelled the world and driven more types of vehicles than arguably anyone else on the planet (though two others might contest that claim), he remains undecided on whether we should have ever bothered making them in the first place. May intends to have reached a conclusion ahead of his Saturday (29th June) talk, titled The Car: Did We Get It Wrong? at the festival in June.

Fans of F1 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans will also not be disappointed, as two giants of motorsport take to the stage at the festival on Thursday (27th June). Dutch racing car driver Jan Lammers, renowned for his presence on the F1 circuit from 1979 to 1982 and his victory in the 1988 Le Mans world endurance race, will be joined by Emanuele Pirro, the Italian former F1 driver and five-time Le Mans winner. Both will captivate a packed audience in conversation with Greg Mills, a prolific writer on South African motoring history and a passionate racing driver himself, as well as the grandson of Billy Mills, a celebrated racing driver and land speed record breaker in the 1930s. Titled The Need for Speed: Driving Le Mans and F1, the talk will see these racing legends reflect on their time behind the wheel and discuss the evolution of the automobile industry, and the sport itself over the decades.

Concluding the event on Sunday at the Chalke History Festival (30th June), award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist Jason Barlow will be chatting with Richard Sutton, former motorsport presenter for Channel 4 and board member of the Goodwood Group, at a talk titled The Soul of the Machine. Barlow, renowned as one of the world’s foremost authorities on automobiles, will lead attendees on an hour’s journey of discovery, reflection, celebration and revelation about the people, brands and nations behind the creation of the greatest cars of all time. In an era where automobiles have become increasingly homogenised and digitised, Barlow and Sutton will explore a crucial question: what is the elusive magic, beyond design, performance or presence, that creates the soul of the machine? They’ll delve into exploring who were the greatest automotive magicians throughout history and ponder whether modern and electrified cars can ever truly recreate it.

Over the weekend, for enthusiasts who revel in the scent of aviation fuel, historic aircraft will be returning to the skies over the Chalke Valley this summer. After a six-year absence, WW2 warbirds the Spitfire and the Hurricane will captivate visitors as they fly over the festival site. This spectacle comes during the month that marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day, giving spectators a rare opportunity to witness these stunning and historically significant aircraft in flight once again.

The full programme - boasting household names such as Michael Palin, Max Hastings, Bettany Hughes, Robert Peston, Tracy Borman, Al Murray and podcasting royalty Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook of The Rest is History - is now live on the Chalke History Festival website, where tickets are also available to purchase.


The Chalke History Festival will take place at Church Bottom, Broad Chalke, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5DP from 24th June to 30th June, 2024. For more details about the festival, please visit the recently relaunched website at  Follow all the news on X at @ChalkeFestival, on Instagram at @chalkehistoryfestival and on Facebook.

About the Chalke History Festival

Attracting the finest and most distinguished historians, academics, leading thinkers, and writers from the UK and abroad, the Chalke History Festival is now firmly established as one of the must-attend events of the festival summer. Taking place on a 70-acre farm, in the heart of the Wessex countryside just outside Salisbury in Wiltshire, it blends inspiring literary talks, discussions and panels with eye-catching and entertaining living history and historical experiences.   

Related Modus Vivendi Articles

1,199 articles