For a fee of £38,000, a businessman expected the drive of a lifetime in a Formula One car with Nigel Mansell at the wheel. Threatening his lifespan, however, was not quite a part of the bargain.
The event was the world's first two-seater Formula One race at Donington Park, Derbyshire, yesterday. The former world champion took on four other similar cars before a crowd of about 1,000 race fans.
Jonathan Frost, an entrepreneur, was sitting in the back seat when Mansell slammed into the back of another vehicle, driven by the Spaniard Fernando Alonso, on the penultimate of 12 laps.
Mr Frost, who had parted with his cash at the official ball that followed the Monaco Grand Prix, got rather more than he expected when Mansell's car flew up in the air and spun. The nose cone shattered, the rear suspension bent and a front wheel came off.
Fortunately, both the driver and his passenger emerged from the wreckage without a scratch between them. Mansell, 48, who won the world title in 1992, dismissed the incident as a "hiccup". He said: "One thing's for sure, you saw a real motor race there. It was one of those hiccups in motor racing.
"We just hit the back of the car in front, it was very unfortunate and very regrettable. I think we overtook whoever was in front in the air."
Louise Goodman, the regular grand prix pit-lane reporter for ITV television, was the rear-seat passenger in the car that Mansell's vehicle hit. "We came out of the corner and the next thing I knew ... boom!" she said after being helped out of the car.
Yesterday was not the first time that Mansell, who last drove in Formula One in 1995, has crashed at Donington, having once smashed a touring car into a concrete wall at the circuit.
Paul Stoddart, the boss of the Minardi racing team, with the pop singer Kelis as his passenger, was declared the race winner. The Australian businessman said: "Everybody's OK and it goes to prove how strong modern Formula One cars are. I echo Nigel in saying we will not be doing that again."Reuse content