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  Home> Past Events> 14th Oct 2006

The MSA/Norwich Union Classic 2007, Sunday October 14th


nu3This event was being run for the first time since 2001 when it was cancelled due to the ‘foot and mouth’ outbreaks. I first read of it back in July one Saturday morning when I spotted an article in the Motoring section of the Telegraph. I immediately registered my interest on line and was somewhat taken aback to receive an almost instant response from a Richard Merrygold of Bath, asking where I had seen the details of the event.

From that initial e mail a series of communications ensued between myself and Richard and no doubt many other interested parties around the country. Within a few weeks  an entry application pack arrived together with details of the planned routes, of which there were five starting points, Bath, Epsom, York, Norwich and Silverstone. Each route had a series of formal check points along an approx 140 mile route taking in such places as Prescott hill climb, the Military Proving Ground, Donnington, the Suttleworth collection, Silverstone Grand Prix circuit and a host of other stops of interest to Classic car buffs.

nu4The event was scheduled as a ‘road run’ but under the auspices of the Motor Sport Association and the use of any motor sport venue was on purely non-competitive grounds. Each route was restricted to circa 130 entries and I had to submit a photograph of my BGT plus lots of other driver/co-driver details with my application, oh! and one more thing, a cheque for £100.00! Yes this was not a low cost run and no donations to charity as far as I have found out to date. However, having completed the event I can see where the costs came from and have nothing but praise for the organisers, marshals etc for what was an incredibly well organised national event.

Within three weeks of entries being accepted the maximum number had been reached and I was lucky to receive a confirmed entry – entry number 69, whereas my good friend Keith received a ‘dear John’ letter. So after returning from our family holiday in Portugal I set about preparing my car for the event and decided to give the ‘old girl’ a new set of tyres and at long last start fitting the carpets, having re-sealed the windscreens after the Snowdon run, when I swear I had more rain inside the car than out!! I was still fitting the passenger seat late on the Saturday afternoon, when I should have been on my way to pick up Keith, who lives near Dursley! Well I got there in the end but that seat has got to come out again! as I’m not happy with  fixing.


We eventually arrived in Beckington, south of Bath where we spent the night and enjoyed watching the rugby on TV. We were like two excited school boys and didn’t sleep too well, away by 7.15am and into Bath arriving in the Royal Victoria park just in front of the Royal Crescent. It was a magnificent assembly area and within minutes more and more wonderful classics and some vintage cars took their places and proceeded to ‘sign on’ having satisfied the scrutineers, of some fairly basic requirements. The first car away was a 1931 Alvis at 8.00am and soon it was our turn at 9.08am precisely.

Being flagged away by a Union Jack we soon climbed out of Bath and completed the run to Prescott via a coffee stop at a friends home in Perrotts Brook.

At Prescott we were greeted by Sue Ward and several other members of the team and after some banter with the marshalls were soon storming our way up the famous hill climb course. After a change of driver and a second climb we headed off for Charlecote Manor, not before having our route card stamped.

 We were within half a mile of Charlcote and I realised that we needed to divert and re-fuel, so we travelled a short distance into Stratford for some ‘Shell V Power’ for the car, water and KitKats for us!

Upon returning to Charlecote my engine decided to run on three cylinders which was most humiliating as we attempted to park amongst our fellow entrants and the throng of on-lookers. I soon had the bonnet up and a new set of plugs gapped and fitted. Then I noticed some ‘gunge’ on the crankcase just above the distributor and a quick wipe with a rag exposed a hole in the rear ‘core plug’ which under pressure must have been sending a jet of steam onto the distributor, or so I thought.

 What now! I need RadWeld was my cry to the marshalls and I soon had a group of fellow entrants rummaging around to see if they could help, but to no avail. The RAC had provided a fleet of Rescue vehicles to cover all five routes so we called them up and advised of our predicament. We’ll be with you shortly was the retort! Nothing for it but to wait and watch our fellow entrants, one by one leave Charlecote for Gaydon. At 1.50pm I realised that we had to leave Charlecote by 2.20pm or be disqualified but luckily the RAC van entered the park and drew up alongside(see the photo). Quickly mixing some ‘chemical metal’ my leaking core plug was sealed within 10 minutes. The engine re-started smoothly and then decided to fire on only three cylinders again! No matter what we tried, including a rapid strip of the carburettor dashpots and application of carb. cleaner the engine continued to fire on only three. There was nothing for it but to screw the throttle stops in to keep the engine running and with two minutes to spare we limped away from Charlecote with a stamp on our route card.

 With only approx 12 miles to go to reach the Heritage Centre at Gaydon,where we had planned to stop for lunch, we kept going and suddenly the engine cleared and was running smoothly once more. With no time to lose, as Gaydon check point closed for us at 2.40pm, we had our card stamped and headed for Silverstone. The trouble now was as we approached every junction the engine was idling at 2000 rpm! and the brakes were getting hot. Never mind we’ll sort it in the paddock before we take to the circuit, we thought!

 Upon arrival at Silverstone the scene was fantastic with a huge Finishing archway and lots of cameras and Norwich Union presence. We were marshalled to the finishing line, handed in our route card, given our medals and ‘goody bag’ and told to enter the circuit via garage 2B. Before we knew it we were coming out of the pits and joining an eclectic mix of classics on their first lap. A quick change of driver for lap two and I have to confess to revelling in overtaking a TR4 as it took a bend rather wide. In all too short a time our laps were over and we drove to the paddock with a hot and fast running engine.

 Thinking we could at last put our hunger to rest we headed straight for the Silverstone Diner only to find that either they hadn’t served any ‘real food’ at all, or we were too late again. So it was a Mars bar and coffee as we watched more entrants pass under the Finishing line and then a photo session in the paddock as more and more cars lined up for a rest before the long journey home. With a cooled nu1engine I quickly reset the carburettors and we enjoyed a spirited drive home, reflecting upon what was a truly fun and amazing day’s motor event.

 I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and if you would like to see more then I suggest you look at the website:

Readers of the Telegraph Motoring section published on Saturday October 19th can also read the account of their motoring journalists who took part, in particular Peter Hall and Franca Davenport who started from Bath in their Triumph GT6 and mention being sandwiched between MGB’s and MGC’s. Guess who was a slice of bread??




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