Jeremy Clarkson met Saudi Prince to plan high speed race track in the Cotswolds
Published 25/05/2015 | 11:22
A Saudi prince with a penchant for fast cars held talks with Jeremy Clarkson to turn a quiet corner of the Cotswolds into a high-performance race track, it has been revealed.
The former Top Gear presenter met with the wealthy Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud at his 2,500-acre Oxfordshire estate.
The prince, 37, is thought to have had grand visions of a private motorsport area near his home – much to the horror of his neighbours.
One possible site was a former RAF airfield near the village of Enstone. Clarkson himself submitted plans to convert it into driving track and TV studio in 2004.
Under that proposal, it would have become Top Gear's test track. However the plan was dropped after protests by residents.
A source close to the Saudi royal family told the Mail on Sunday: “The Prince is a bit of a petrolhead. He loves driving along the country lanes and is careful to observe the speed limit. But he thought it would be fun to have a track close by where he and other motorsport enthusiasts could give their cars a real thrashing.
“He loves Top Gear and thinks Clarkson is great, so he was the obvious person to talk to. They got on very well.”
The meeting in Glympton Park, the home Prince Khalid shares with his wife – the Duke of Northumberland's niece, Lucy Cuthbert – is understood to have taken place in November 2006.
A spokesman for the prince confirmed that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “the possibility of finding a suitable site for a circuit where motorsports enthusiasts would be able to drive their cars in a safe environment but without having to worry about speed limits”.
He added: “In the event, no suitable site was identified and the idea came to nothing.
“To the best of our knowledge, no payments were made to Mr Clarkson by, or on behalf of, Prince Khalid or the Glympton Estate.”
Mr Clarkson, who was sacked by the BBC in March after punching a producer, said of his meeting with the prince: “It was a cup of tea. I was having a look round Glympton.”