Thursday April 20th, 2000
Bernie Ecclestone held a charity gala at the Dorchester Hotel last night to mark the Formula One World Championshipís 50th anniversary.
The event raised £1.5 million for the NSPCC, and was attended by an array of celebrities and drivers past and present.
The 400 guests, who paid £50,000 per table, included top brass from all the Formula One teams and past world champions Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jackie Stewart. Celebrities such as Vinnie Jones and Claudia Schiffer were also in attendance, as were Jack Brabham, Phil Hill, Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg and Jody Scheckter.
Damon joined Jools Hollandís all-star band to provide the musical entertainment. Eddie Jordan, Eric Clapton and Jay Kay also apppeared on stage.
The highlight of the event was the charity auction. Jacques Villeneuve spent £35,000 on guitars from Nick Mason, Mark Knopfler and Chris Rea, and Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo paid £20,000 for a look inside of a McLaren, albeit from the back seat of the MP4-98T two-seater.
The biggest amount raised by a single item was £450,000 for a weekend at next year's Monaco Grand Prix with the use of a private jet, yacht and passes. Mansour Ojjeh and Ron Dennis of McLaren paid £250,000 for it, and then gave the prize back to be reauctioned, allowing Flavio Briatore to snap it up for £50,000 less.