LONDON — “I roped Paris into this, although I’m not going to let her drive,” said Caroline Stanbury, who’s headed to Continental Europe for the annual, all-female Cash & Rocket auto rally with longtime pal Paris Hilton. “She’s not comfortable driving on the other side of the road — and I want to live — I don’t want to die.”
Stanbury and Hilton joined fellow drivers and guests including Chloe Green, Jodie Kidd, Lady Kitty Spencer, Mary McCartney, David Koma and Emeli Sandé for a fund-raising gala at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Sandé performed, while Simon de Pury auctioned prizes from donors including Gucci, David Morris, Michael Kors, Julien Macdonald, Emma Thompson and McCartney, slamming his gavel with gusto and lavishing the deep-pocketed guests with praise.
The same could not be said for Julie Brangstrup, the founder and chief executive officer of the charity. She told dinner guests, who were clad in masks, feathers and sparkly gowns, that she planned to be tough on her drivers.
“I’m going to put them through hell. By day, I expect hard work, and I need them to kick ass. By night, I expect them to be dressed, at dinner, and nice and polite to everyone — I don’t appreciate drama,” said the Danish Brangstrup in her gravelly voice.
The drivers, who will be leaving London for Paris on Friday, will get their wake-up calls at 6 a.m. each day, and drive the bright red Cash & Rocket cars for six hours before more fund-raising dinners as they move from Paris to Geneva and on to Monte Carlo.
Brangstrup is hoping the 40 teams — 80 women in all — who paid to enter the rally — will raise at least 400,000 pounds over the four days. Starr Luxury Cars provided most of the cars for the rally. Hilton and Stanbury will be driving one of Starr’s rare red G-Wagons, while the Michael Kors drivers, Alessandra Balazs and Carmen Chaplin, are whizzing down to Monte Carlo in a Bentley GTC 2.
The charity has raised $4.5 million since it was founded in 2011, and the money raised this year will be split evenly between Sumbandila, which helps children in extreme poverty; Helen Bamber Foundation, which supports refugees and asylum seekers who’ve suffered extreme violence and exploitation, and the Los Angeles-based Dream for Future Africa Foundation.
Asked during the evening what sort of driver she was, Hilton – who was dressed in a black Maison Alexandrine gown – didn’t skip a beat. “I’m good — I’m fast. And I’m all about women’s empowerment — and girl power.”