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Car Events 2015 – St Fagans Welsh Museum

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A young MINI enthusiast – Aaron – organised a MINI meet at St Fagans National History Museum, commonly referred to as St Fagans after the village where it is located. It is an open-air museum in Cardiff chronicling the historical lifestyle, culture, and architecture of the Welsh people. The museum is part of the wider network of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. The day out was organised via The Welsh MINI Group, an online Facebook group of MINI enthusiasts and it took place on Sunday the 11th October.

We left Malvern at 8.30 am in order to be at Cardiff West Services at Junction 33 of the M4 for 10.00am, where we were meeting the rest of the gang. We took two cars, Our MINI GP – ThunderBeast – and our JCW Coupe – SilverBeast – and had some fun on the drive down to Cardiff! From the services we all convoyed the short drive to the Museum. However, first there was the ritual of standing around in a carpark for an hour while we all admired the MINIs. Once at St Fagans we parked in a grassy overspill car park where we were all able to park together and get some good photos of all the MINIs. Inevitably then another hour was spent hanging around the MINIs as we repeated the exercise of admiring the cars and making new MINI friends. All good fun and an essential part of a MINI meet. Aaron just loves MINIs and I confess his enthusiasm certainly rubs off on me.

We then wandered around the open air museum where you can glimpse Welsh life through the ages. It makes for an interesting day out and below I have posted a few pictures from around the Museum. I shared a chicken and leek baked potato with Peanut for lunch and then ambled around some more after lunch with our old pals Debbie and Aston and Aston’s son Jenson. Great company and we always enjoy catching up with them.

Two thirty saw us back in the car park while a raffle was drawn for some MINI goods and then a few of us went to the OysterCatcher in Penarth for tea. Unfortunately they could not accommodate us so after some thought me and Peanut decided it was home time, said our goodbyes and drove the hour and a half back to Malvern. This time I was in SilverBeast and Chrissie was chasing in ThunderBeast, as with the morning drive down to Cardiff, this was a lot of fun! The conclusions from us both were unanimous. SilverBeast is faster, ThunderBeast handles better. SilverBeast is more refined, ThunderBeast is more fun.

All in all it was a lovely day out and it was exciting taking ThunderBeast on his first MINI meet. It was fun seeing all the other MINIs too, 2, GP1s, 2 GP2s about 5 F56s, 3 Roadsters and two Coupes plus many more MINIs.It was also good to meet old friends again as well as make a few new ones!


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Car Events 2015 – The Goodwood Revival

37 Photographs To Make You Want To Go To The Goodwood Revival

Since Douglas Adam’s revealed the answer to be “42” in his book The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, scholar’s by and large have accepted this as the definitive answer.  After all it took a computer (Deep Thought) the size of a planet 7.5 million years of calculation to arrive at this answer. So long did it take that the question posed was actually forgotten. Some believe that the question was what is 6 x 9 (base 13) but in the absence of hard evidence to support this beyond doubt, we have adopted ” Life, The Universe and Everything” as the question.

A time warp malfunction resulted in a breakaway group of scholar’s contemplating the same question back in the early 1960s, before Earth even new that the question had been running for nigh on 7.5 million years. This group had two unique qualities that each member possessed. Firstly, they were all super intelligent human beings and secondly, each one owned a Mini. They had amazing success and in an incredible year of sterling endeavour from the middle of 1963, to the middle of 1964 they arrived at the answer “37”. As if endorsement was needed, Paddy Hopkirk won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini – number 37!

In 1978, Douglas Adam’s revealed the answer to be “42” in a series of Radio Four Comedy programmes – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. The world and its scholars ran with this theory.

However, the Mini community remains loyal to the original gang of super intelligent boffins and have made the number “37” iconic in their community. The Mini community is now a global network of enthusiasts holding regular meets where without fail the number “37” can always be seen as the knowledge is passed from generation to generation.

In homage to the superintelligents of the Mini community and the hard work they do in the name of 37, I give you 37 photographs to show you why you need to go the the Goodwood Revival.


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Car Events 2015 – Classic Nostalgia At Shelsley Walsh

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Sunday saw us at our favourite Hill Climb venue – Shelsley Walsh – for their Classic Nostalgia weekend.

“Classic Nostalgia produces some wonderful sights, sounds and magnificent machines from over the years, in a pretty setting amongst the wonderful Worcestershire hills.” Sir Stirling Moss

This annual event is rapidly becoming a firm favourite on the racing calendar and is kindly supported by Classic and Sports Car magazine and Stewart Miller and Peter James Insurance. The action-packed weekend always attracts a very a wide variety of pre 1980s competition cars competing on the historic hill climb course, plus features spectacular static vehicle displays, trade stands, vintage-inspired entertainment, musicians, live bands and show dancers. The 2015 event certainly didn’t disappoint. We arrived in rain feeling a little frustrated and sat in our car for twenty minutes until it gave up. Thereafter the day burst into wonderful sunshine, which really helped the event achieve all it promised to be.

Action on the hill consisted of two one day National B events for pre-1980 cars. On each day, practice was in the morning, where all competitors were offered two practice runs. The competitive runs the took place in the afternoon, with each driver having two runs. We were there to enjoy the fun on the Sunday. The fun was enhanced by the presence of Derek Bell there to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first of his 5 le Mans victories. Also honoured was Jaguar who this year are celebrating a number of anniversaries.

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The Midland Automobile Club celebrated the successes of 5 time Le Mans winner Derek Bell at the Classic Nostalgia event held at Shelsley Walsh, as he celebrated the 40th anniversary of his first Le Mans win.

Derek who went to school at Kings, Worcester, took to the hill in a variety of cars which included the Porsche 956 that he drove during the 1983 season, sharing it with Stefan Bellof who used the car to set the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record of 6 minutes 11.13 seconds. Of all the Rothmans Porsches, it is this car that is the most talked about.

Derek also drove the Broadspeed Jaguar XJ12C in which he competed in the 1976 Tourist Trophy at Silverstone.

Derek’s book, My Racing Life, is a highly readable autobiography in which he recalls a life in motor racing that spanned over 40 years and was packed with achievement and diversity, and was available to purchase throughout the weekend with opportunities to get copies signed on the Sunday. I had a mind to buy a copy and get it signed but I have to confess at £35 a copy I baulked and changed my mind. Shame I’m such a tight arse if I’m honest, as I think this would have made a great souvenir to remember what really was a cracking day.

Anyway enough of my miserly ways. Derek Bell is best-known as the consummate endurance sports car driver who won the Le Mans 24 Hours five times and the Daytona 24 Hours three times, teamed with racing greats such as Jacky Ickx, Hans Stuck and Al Holbert.

Besides sports car racing, he has competed in many different cars and categories, from a works seat with Ferrari in Formula 1 in 1968 to rally driving a Vauxhall.

Getting Ready

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Also throughout the weekend Shelsley honoured the marque ‘Jaguar’ with special displays to commemorate the brands numerous anniversaries this year, including the 80 years of the Jaguar name, 60th anniversary of the Jaguar Mk1, 60 years since the last Le Mans win for Jaguar Cars Ltd and the 40th anniversary of the Jaguar XJS, 40 years of the XJ Coupe, and 25 years since a Jaguar last won Le Mans.

As part of The jaguar celebrations, Norman Dewis OBE came to Shelsley on the Sunday appearing on the Philip Porter stand for interviews and book signing sessions throughout the day. In a career spanning 33 years, Dewis played a pivotal role in the development of 25 significant Jaguar cars including the E-type, D-type and XK models. As chief development test engineer at Jaguar for 36 years he is synonymous with the brand’s success – both on and off the track and widely regarded as Britain’s greatest test driver having completed more than a million test miles at an average speed of 100 mph-plus. This year the British engineering icon was finally awarded an OBE in the Honours List for his contribution to the automotive industry. His presence was much appreciated by the keen petrolheads at Shelsley.

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Finally leaving PaceBeast in the field we meandered through the car club stands and headed for the paddock where a mindboggling collection of cars awaited our perusal. The smell of petrol pervaded the air a wonderful heady mix to delight the nostrils of any petrol head and we were no exception. We experienced this at Chateau Impney but it was even more intense here. Our cameras were put to high use. Peanut was armed with a 230mm zoom on the XE-1 and I shot from the hip tilting the rear screen on the XM-1 matched to a 35mm zoom. I thought we would also make use of the iPhone 6 as we did at Chateau Impney last week, but as we had both cameras the iPhone saw little use. For us the atmosphere was really exciting, somehow much more real than last week at Impney. Drivers were working on their cars, some were warming them up, regular queues were forming as the cars made ready for their practice runs up the hill and enthusiasts were milling around all of this snapping away with their cameras. Derek Bell was about and his Porsche was being warmed up too. The smells, the noises, the cars to be admired it was thrilling. It took me back to being at The Mille Miglia!

Time for a coffee and a sausage butty in the café and this was very civilised too with but a small queue.. The band was playing and through the door of the café we glimpsed the dancers having fun to the period music.

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A walk up the hill followed to snap a few cars on the hill, then a walk around the club cars on the field as these had now filled up before we headed back to PaceBeast to enjoy the picnic we had brought. The sun was shining the fresh chicken sandwiches were good and we got chatting to the chap in the car next to us. Peanut managed to burn her knees and chest in the sun!

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The afternoon was a repeat of the morning, this time with an ice cream and then a cup of tea in the vintage tea stand adjacent to the car club stands. The Elf’s favourite cars from the day were the Marcos sports cars, I didn’t have a highlight though I did like the Alfa Romeo which we had admired the previous week at Impney – I think I have little room in my head for anything except the Generation 1 MINI GP. Peanut also did not have a favourite though we did all love the gorgeous red Bentley on the Jaguar display.

A wonderfully great day out!

 


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Car Events 2015 – Chateau Impney Hill Climb July 2015

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Sunday saw us at Chateau Impney for the 2015 revival of the Hagley and District Light Car Club sprint that was first organised in the chateau’s grounds in 1957. Myself, Peanut and The Elf were there and we were excited both to be visiting Chateau Impney and also to be in at the start of the revival of this event. Before we even arrived we followed a couple in their lovely red Triumph TR4 and the chap drove it with a delightful panache. Not crazy silly but nonetheless with flair and style which made it fun following in his wake to the hill climb. It is cars like that which excite me and I was looking forward to seeing similar road cars racing the hill.
The Chateau itself was built in the heyday of the British Empire and the motor car was becoming the fashionable accessory of the nouveau riche. Chateau Impney has developed a rich motoring heritage over the years, a tradition that began with the first sprint on 29 September 1957. The event was a roaring success, with Autocar magazine hailing the Chateau as “easily the most picturesque of this country’s sprint and hill-climb venues”, and declaring that “with a little skill and ingenuity applied to the road itself it will quickly rival the best of them”. The event continued for ten years coming to an end in 1967. In 2015, this historic motoring event has been revived for a modern audience and as said we were there to enjoy it and soak up the atmosphere.

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The Chateau Impney Hill Climb saw no less than 200 competitors sprint their way up the challenging 1,000-yard course against the clock,including the famous Beast of Turin! It was a high-octane display of power, speed and skill and some of the most famous and successful competition cars that raced between the inception of the motorcar and 1967 were put to the test. The winner of the Hill Climb was awarded a prestigious trophy, commemorating the part that the Hagley & District Light Car Club played in Chateau Impney’s motorsport heritage. After wandering past some car related stalls on a car park between the field where we parked and the hill climb paddock area, we then spent some time at the entrance to the hill climb photographing the cars as they lined up to race the hill. The vapours from the petrol at this vantage point were positively intoxicating and we loved the smell it was so evocative of old cars and racing. I think at the time we described it as perfume!

This new MSA-approved course is double the length of the original track at a distance of 1,000 yards and to win the fastest time of the day, competitors had to navigate a number of challenging twists and turns at high speed before eventually finishing their climb at the Footman James Finish Line. During the course of the day we selected a number of vantage points to watch the racing, from just by the side of the chateau where we saw a number of cars nearly get caught out by the wet weather, to closer to the finishing line where we could watch a tricky chicane turn. Seeing and hearing the cars was quite wonderful and my favourite was a red Alfa Romeo GT Sprint. Again it is because I like the cars that look like you could use them daily on the roads. We were always drawn to the cars that looked like road cars from the 50s, and 60s but in truth all were a delight to watch.

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It was good to being able to mooch about in the paddock areas where the cars were parked up prior to racing and undergoing last minute modifications here and there. Lunch saw us on the hill eating pork rolls and being treated to a spectacular biplane stunt display overhead. After lunch we did another tour of the paddock area and spent some time admiring the cars that were up for auction. Finally satiated with old cars we headed for home with me vowing to add more stickers and some spot lights to our MINI Coupe JCW! Mrs P meanwhile wants to do a hill climb!


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Car Events 2015 – Miniacs Only Tintern Abbey Meet

  Aaron a young and wonderfully enthusiastic Miniac organised a small MINI meet at Tintern Abbey today. Mrs P unfortunately was working today but I spotted this meet this morning and decided to join in. I met the gang at Homebase in Chepstow. This involved a rather lovely drive from Malvern through Ledbury and Monmouth and on to Chepstow. So I arrived in a good mood after a spirited drive. 

  
There was a cracking selection of MINIs there, including a roadster,  an F56 Cooper a generation 1 GP and two Gen 2 GPs! More importantly one of the GPs belonged to my old mate Aston who collected his new dream machine just the day before!

  
If I’m honest it was the generation 1 GP that drew my heart and seeing one again just rekindled my long standing desire for one. However, sitting in Aston’s GP2 it really is a lovely bit of kit. Great seats, a lovely leather dashboard and a serious road presence. So enjoy every minute of it me old pal.

  
We had a fun drive from Chepstow to Tintern Abbey involving all the standard MINI run  mishaps such as getting lost and taking the wrong road etc. However, we got there and had a lovely picnic by the cars.

  
It was a joy meeting Aaron the young organiser. He is MINI through and through and his enthusiasm is infectious. It took me back to the old new MINI days when we had a similar enthusiasm. This little meet certainly re-enthused me so a big thank you to Aaron for organising.