At least 20,000 people poured into central Bradford to witness the awesome spectacle of a legendary racing car blasting around the city's streets.

It was July 19, 2009, and - quite remarkably - the Jaguar XJR9 that won the 1988 Le Mans 24-hour race was about to be let loose on the public roads of a British city for the first time ever.

The vehicle was unloaded from its trailer on Sunbridge Road and then led a convoy of historic Jaguars into Centenary Square, where thousands of spectators were waiting.

Accompanied by a police escort, it performed two high-speed laps of Bradford city centre, shattering the Sunday morning silence as it made its way along Hall Ings, much to the surprise and delight of a 200-strong party that was arriving at the Hilton Hotel for a wedding reception.

As a happy coincidence, I was the Telegraph & Argus reporter covering the weekend shift and had taken up position on the bridge across Hall Ings, which was demolished some years later.

As the XJR9 approached, the sound of its V12 engine was like nothing I'd ever heard before and seemed to bounce off the tall buildings, reverberating around the city centre 'bowl'.

The white, yellow and purple paintwork seemed little but a blur as this fine-looking racing car passed by.

With the road closed, the number 2 machine was really shifting as it passed under the bridge, before braking hard for the Jacob's Well roundabout, with spectators looking on open-mouthed at the 750bhp car's capabilities.

The superb spectacle formed part of the Bradford Classic - a celebration of classic cars, food and music.

The organisers had pulled out all the stops and, while there have been many excellent Bradford Classics, the 2009 version will certainly rank as one of the best.

Television presenter and former British rally championship driver, Penny Mallory, was the celebrity guest at that year's event.

In an interview with the T&A, she said: “I am absolutely staggered at the amount of people that it has brought out.

“I did not think there would be very many people here on the second day but it looks as if there’s more than there was on the first day.

“Everyone can see something they can get excited about. They can get up close and really experience the excitement and, of course, this Le Mans car behind me is the real spectacle here and we have just seen it running through the streets of Bradford which was absolutely outstanding.

“Everyone has got a smile on their face, the weather has stayed with us and every year it’s going from strength to strength.”

On Saturday, all those who entered their cars into the show were asked to pick their favourite vehicle and they selected an immaculate Volvo 1800S, owned by James Chinneck. Meanwhile, Penny Mallory selected the MG MGA owned by Michael Steel as her favourite exhibit.

Mark Hutchinson, 46, from Yeadon, displayed his lovingly-restored Vanden Plas car, built in 1979.

He said: “This has been a really nice event and it’s great for Bradford.”

Bob Parker, Bradford city centre manager, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the way it has gone.

“It’s so pleasing that so many people have turned up to enjoy the cars and have such a good time.

“There has been no trouble whatsoever.

“The Bradford Classic has two key underlying aims – to showcase the city at its best and to benefit the businesses in the city centre.”

To coincide with that year's Bradford Classic, the Media Museum hosted the UK’s first motoring film festival.

A special screening of the original Italian Job was attended by the wife of the film’s director, Hazel Collinson, who also appeared in the cult film.

Jaguar at Le Mans in 1988

In 1988, Jaguar went to Le Mans in strength, entering five XJR9 cars

Two of those cars retired but the remaining three went on to finish first, fourth and 16th in the historic race. The winning Jaguar No 2 car was driven by Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace. It completed 394 laps and covered 3313.63 miles. 1988 saw Jaguar win the world championship after winning in six out of ten Group C races.