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Midland Centre     Previous Social Event Reports ...

Charnwood Caper 19 May 2019

Having been first run in 2004, the North Leicester MG Club’s Charnwood Caper is now in its 16th year.  Back in those early days, though, the number of cars involved was less than half of the ninety-odd classics that the run has consistently attracted since 2016.

This year’s outing, on May 19th, saw eighty-eight cars pre-booked to take part.  Of these, seventy-six bore the Octagon, ranging from a 1938 Tickford VA, through a couple of T-Series cars, several MGAs, Midgets and MGCs, a solitary RV8 and a dozen Fs and TFs.  The other ten marques in attendance (including Morgan, Morris, Porsche, Triumph and TVR) were represented for the most part by single examples.  MGBs, again, were in abundance, with over forty taking part, well over half of which were roadsters.  The average age of all cars involved was just over 40 years, with the younger element (mainly Fs and TFs) being balanced out by the twenty-eight older classics which had been on the road for more than half a century.   

The run itself began at the Quorn & Woodhouse station, which is one of four on the Leicestershire section of the Great Central Heritage Railway.  This has become the regular starting venue for the “Caper”, thanks to the size and accessibility of the station car park and the fantastic co-operation received from the management of the railway.  The staff of the station’s Butler-Henderson Tearooms, who turn out bright and early each year to provide the morning refreshments, also make a great contribution to the overall atmosphere of the day.

After leaving the station, the cavalcade of classics travelled through a couple of Charnwood Forest villages, taking them around to the west and north of Loughborough.  Crossing into Nottinghamshire near to Sutton Bonnington, the 79-mile route took in a further twenty villages as it followed mainly country lanes to the final destination of Thoresby Park, near Ollerton. 

Here the crews were able to enjoy the park’s extensive acreage, and the shops and café in the Victorian Courtyard.

Once again, the entrants who had travelled furthest to take part were rewarded with a prize, and this year the recipients were Andrew and Alison Biggs, who came from Hertfordshire in their Midget to do the run.  A raffle yielded a host of winners, with the two “star prizes” going to Jim Andrews (car battery voucher) and Sylvia Buckingham (hamper).  Both are Leicestershire residents.

Raffle earnings and surplus income from the run will be donated to this year’s nominated charity, the Loughborough-based Rainbows Hospice for children and young people. 

For information about the work of the hospice, visit www.rainbows.co.uk.
Midland Centre Welsh Rallye  - 17th to 19th May 2019
Now in its 24th year, the MG Car Club Midland Centre’s Welsh (Touring) Rallye continues to be popular and takes the participants to some hidden gems of Wales that folk might not normally venture to.

The MG Welsh (Touring) Rallye was started in May 1997 by then Centre Chairman - Rick Howson - as a non-competitive variant of the proper rallies that the Centre used to run many moons ago in the 50/60’s. Hence the Rallye spelling to differentiate it as non-competitive, and then the addition of ‘Touring’, to indicate that it was held under an MSA Touring Assembly Certificate of Exemption.

Its main aim was to give drivers who like to use their Classic Cars a decent run on roads that would not usually be visited on one’s own and be of a length to be interesting and challenging rather than just a tootle round the block.

The first 18 years were one nighters, meaning that the Saturday mid-May start was from somewhere in the West Midlands area and headed West to finish at various hotels in Wales large enough to accommodate a group of some 50+ cars. That is, apart from two Centre anniversary years in 2003 & 2013.

Distances of the runs varied from 160 in ’97 to 180 in the early years, with some a bit less  as many folk had some mileage just to get to the start, or some stayed nearby, thus making it a two nighter for them. Some of the suggested route’s mileage was to head West from the Start to the borders and into wild Welshland.

Once everyone was suitably refreshed and rested after a long day's drive, dinner was served in the hotel restaurant. Although there wasn't a specific fancy dress theme this year, guests were encouraged to wear "something outrageous" in the way of ear ornaments or neckties. After the meal, we were entertained by a live band in the hotel bar, or for those preferring a quieter environment, some decamped to the empty second dining room.

This year's Sunday excursion was a canal boat ride across Thomas Telford's famous Pontcysyllte aqueduct. We did manage to fill one boat for the 2-hour trip, returning to the hotel by coach. Part way along the canal we came upon a BBC film crew and what appeared to be Welsh rugby player Gareth Edwards and wife, so naturally we all waved in the hope of seeing our faces on TV at some future point, providing the programme isn't on S4C! Those preferring not to take the boat ride occupied themselves with the local steam railway or walks around the town. Back at the hotel, we sat down for a Sunday carvery lunch, after which prizes were awarded for best male & female fancy dress, won by Terry Heighway and Anita Dorney respectively, the two best cars on the event, an MGB owned by Roger Bolton and an MGTF owned by Roger King, chosen by last year's winner John Burton, together with awards for Natter of the Year (the Stone group near Stoke-on-Trent) and non-financial contributions to the Midland Centre by a Non-Committee member (Geoff St. John Mitchell) and a Committee Member (Tony Lake). Then it was time to bid our fond farewells and head for home. A few guests elected to stay a further night and drive home on Monday.

So that ends another successful Rallye weekend, and preparations begin for the 2020 events. What will that hold in store, we wonder?Thanks to the organising sub-committee - Brian Osborn, Paul Hollingworth and Roger King - and our photographer, Simon Morris.

For more images, please click on the 'Welsh Rallye' section on our  Website Gallery page.
Midland Centre Summer Day Out - Shelsley Walsh 16 June 19

As Midland Centre members will know, for the past few years the Centre has teamed up with the Midland Automobile Club, owners of the world-famous Shelsley Walsh hill climb track, to hold our annual Summer Day Out, and 2019 was no different.

As before, we chose the weekend of the MAC’s Classic Nostalgia event, sometimes described as a ‘mini Goodwood Revival’ in view of the period clothing worn by many spectators and the ages of some of the vehicles competing on the hill. Due to the unfortunate cancellation of the MGCC’s ‘MG Live’ weekend at Silverstone, the MGB Register had also chosen to invite their members to Shelsley Walsh, albeit on the Saturday, whereas we chose our usual Sunday. Once again, we arranged to offer our members discounts on the normal ticket prices, together with parking areas reserved for MG cars. In the end, we had a rather better parking location than expected.

Classic Attire optional

Although most previous Summer Days Out were graced with decent weather, sometimes good enough to permit a fly-past by a WW2 Spitfire fighter aircraft, sadly the 2018 event was plagued with cloud and dampness. The memory of that may have affected tickets sale and competitor entries (not forgetting that it was also Father’s Day), because a few days before the weekend we received a call from Gary Hall, Shelsley’s General Manager, offering MGCC members attending on the Sunday the opportunity to park in the main paddock area, using ‘garages’ normally occupied by competitors. Naturally we gratefully accepted.

And so it was that Sunday, June 16, dawned cloudy but reasonably dry, and some 19 of our members turned up bright and early to claim their garages, bringing with them an interesting variety of cars – MGAs, MGBs, Midgets, a TF1500 fitted with an MGA twin-cam engine, and a brace of Magnettes, together with a handful of modern TFs.

We were also treated to a display of three proper Minis converted to the style as seen in the film ‘The Italian Job’ (the Michael Cain version, of course) together with the Harrington coach which ended the film suspended precariously over a cliff edge.

The event theme this year centered on classic rally cars, and the paddock area was full with various classic Subarus from the McRae era, Mitsubishi Evos, Escorts, a Metro 6R4, and even a Rover SD1, to name but a few. These were all in addition to the regular competitors in everything ranging from a strange contraption fitted with Kart wheels to some beautiful classic Lotus and Brabham single-seaters. Prize for the noisiest car of the weekend went to a Vauxhall Firenza fitted with a Chevrolet V8 engine and seemingly no silencing. When it went up the hill you could have heard it in the next county! Mind you, the same could be said of the various turbo rally cars as their waste-gates popped and banged like an artillery barrage, echoing around the hillsides.

Generally the weather played ball, and despite a couple of heavy showers sufficient to bring proceedings to a temporary halt, the afternoon turned bright, sunny and quite warm. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the only culprit in holding things up, responsibility being shared with a rally Escort which, first, managed to leave a trail of oil for virtually the entire length of the hill, necessitating a major clean-up by the marshals, and then later in the afternoon the same car was rolled by its driver, requiring a lengthy delay to get it back on its wheels and down to the paddock. We wonder if that competitor will be invited back!

Rally Car Line-up

But, all in all, we believe that everyone enjoyed the day, borne out by the various ‘Thank You’ emails we have received since then. Some have suggested that, after some five years of attending this event, it may be time to consider a different venue for our Summer Day Out in 2020. Trouble is, on a nice day, Shelsley Walsh is a lovely place to be, in the heart of rolling Worcestershire countryside, and there are many varied cars on show, as well as some well-known personalities from the world of motoring. Would another location hold the same appeal?

Answers on a post card to ....

For more images, please click on the 'Shelsley Walsh' section on our Website Gallery page.

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