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Midland Centre Summer Sprint 2 August 2020
Your Centre plucked up courage and went ahead with our traditional August Sprint at Curborough. But given the uncertainties surrounding any event during the current Covid pandemic we elected to join with owners of the Curborough circuit, the Shenstone and District Car Club, in co-promoting a Practice Sprint. That means under the MSUK Permit granted to the Midlands Centre we could stage the meeting but devoid of any awards, FTDs, and club championship rounds. We could still use timing equipment even if printed results on paper had to be replaced with a digital app retrieved via smartphone. With us so far?

With entrants self-scrutineering their cars and everyone complying with Covid-19/MSUK strict requirements, overseen (or was it ‘policed’?) by Centre chair Roger King acting as official Covid-19 Officer, the 55 entrants, including 26 MGs (thank you fans), seem to have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. (Or so they kept saying).

Blessed with great weather, and with five runs on offer, the sprint represented a 2020 first time run for most. The ever-present Covid-19 Officer meant no huddles of humanity, strict queuing for the loo and on site café, and a lot of distance shouting, and no spectators. But all agreed it was worth it.

Compliments to S&DC for all the work they put in to make it happen together with the marshals and the relatively busy recovery guys.

The Centre is particularly proud that committee member Simon Morris was Clerk of the Course and a great job he did.

Now a cautionary note: One of the Midget drivers had a bad fuel leak which was traced to decomposing fuel lines, so if your car has been laid up for some while check the fuel lines. The possible ravages of E fuel might have affected their integrity. 

Next up our Autumn Trial on the 27 September at Bromsgrove. Again under strict Covid rules; we remain determined to keep motor sport going in these trying times. Watch our web site for details.

Roger King Midland Centre Chairman

MGCC Midland Centre 53rd Annual Autumn Trial
27 September 2020

The Midland Centre has a long sporting history, it goes back to 1938 when the first car trial was organised in the Church Stretton area; WW2 intervened, trials restarted in 1967. The Autumn Trial enjoys an almost unbroken run since then, except for a waterlogged site in 2000, so we were keen to keep that record intact. We were encouraged once we heard of the MSUK Back on Track initiative. By July directives were published. That resulted in our sprint at Curborough in August from which we learned how well-behaved competitors are when provided with sound Covid 19 guidelines. A consequence of a paperless event was a lot of email communication with entrants which of necessity replaced the traditional C of C briefing at the start of the trial.  It might be paperless but yards of text still had to be prepared to feed the email hopper, definitely a lot more work this time but hopefully a one off investment, filed for future use. 

By Sunday 27-09-20 at 08:30 East Lodge Farm near Bromsgrove was open for business, by kind permission of Maggie Mason. We bought a package of Covid 19 signs from MSUK. Self-scrutineering worked, so scrutineer David Bowlas and Covid 19 Officer, Centre chairman Roger King, manned the gate to check that everybody entering was the on the list of self-declared with no Covid 19 contacts in the last 14 days. David recorded body temperature with a contactless digital thermometer, just like the NHS. We had a good entry of 28 drivers; the paddock was spaced out for each competitor, looked very tidy, not at all like a trial start.

Clerk of the Course Adrian Tucker-Peake and a gang of helpers had laid out 6 very dry, long and twisty sections, where was the rain when we needed it?  Class 2 was dominated by a variety of Austin 7s keenly competing with Dave Rushton’s 1930 M type.

He had a good battle with Robert Renshaw’s A7, they both finished on 21 dropped  so David won the Allen Trophy for the best MG. Quite a car - Martin Price, photographer and past centre chairman, recalls competing against it in the 80’s when Mike, Dave’s father ran it in trials.  Frank Vautier, 1939 TA, said he had never had so many cleans, mud just doesn’t agree with his cross ply tyres. Mary Baxter with Dad Richard was going very well in their Ulster only losing 5 in the morning, then disaster, the clutch pedal fractured. Don Skelton, A7, won the Autumn Cup.    

Class 1 winner was Ian Webb in his VW Lupo on 45 dropped, evidently a more tractable steed than the Smart he used in the Taster trial last year which was a tad skittish on downhill mud. 

The winners of combined classes 5 and 6 were Alan and Jane Bee in their 1275 Midget with 35 dropped; they also got 203 Air Miles for the furthest travelled from Hamsterley, Co Durham! 

Thomas Hunt and Paul Kavanagh were running a very tidy MGBGT on its first event, a shakedown, having been prepared for MCC long distance Trials.

Class 7 was a clear win for Dave Middleditch in his Dutton Phaeton on 9 dropped. Dave is the architect of the on-line trials admin system purchased by the MCC,” myclubhouse”. He was followed by Richard Houlgate and Jim Wood in a Marlin on 28.

Class 8 was another win for young Joe Leach with Dad Jeremy bouncing, in a Cannon. He dropped 11 and enjoyed a clear run all afternoon, same result as last year when he was also best Novice. Nigel Glover in another Cannon on 22 was second.

Simon Morris, the centre’s chief marshal, recruited a veritable platoon of marshals, many thanks to them, we really needed them. Simon Woodhall was present in his role as MSUK Trials co-ordinator; taking a look at Clubman Motor Sport, a rare sight in the current climate.  The weather was glorious, after lunch C of C Adrian instituted two devious restarts to add some spice, with odd exceptions all the classes felt a bit more sporting pain as failure to make progress increased! Some drivers wished for a bit more power.

Ellie’s chuck-wagon from Bromsgrove Hog Roast was well patronised, the sanitised portaloos were appreciated as well, thanks to Nigel Whiten and his connections.

Covid 19 definitely made a difference particularly when one was speaking to a masked old acquaintance and then realising after a minute that it was somebody else!  Everybody complied; masked-up and socially distanced. The universally rewarding feedback; as the awards were presented by Roger King, was that everybody found it so refreshing to get outside on a Covid secure site for a brilliant day’s sport with responsible company. 

Tony Lake - Trials Secretary MGCC Midland Centre

Midland Centre Autumn Trial & Taster Trial 13 October 2019

Well Sunday was all the weather forecasters said it would be and then some, not a day for low scores. It is reported that Adrian Tucker-Peake, C of C, and George Houghton had sunburn setting up on Saturday, but made the right call in spite of the dire warnings about low pressure (thought it strange that the BBC weather forecasts were talking about tyre pressures, what do they know?). 

We all looked like drowned rats until about 10:30 when the rain stopped, by then the BTRDA gang were off and judging by some of the engine noise were drying out the hills on their own, I guess that’s what they do when the sun don’t shine.

Our fears about mud and the hills were ill founded, everybody got out of their predicaments somehow or other. Good job too because our friendly tractor driver with about twenty to choose from was on holiday in Wales. The T type MGs had a torrid time, what with cross-ply tyres and low ground clearance it was very difficult, but great to see them and an Austin 7 saloon campaigning amongst the moderns.

The Autumn Trial was a clear win for Steve Courts in his Imp, we’ve lost count of the number of times he’s walked off with the Autumn Cup, but richly deserved. Colin Reid in a Golf finished second and won class 1 equally convincingly. Richard Tompkins/Ed Nikel were third in another Imp.

Jimmy Milligan/Graham Moore were best MG in a ZR winning the Allen Trophy. Five of the entry in the Autumn Trial were driving MGs, that’s what we like to see. Jan Richings with Kevin Sharp in a Saxo was Best Novice in only her second trial this year, she finished 5th overall, a polished performance.

The Taster Trial was a clear win for Stephen and Pam Yates in a Reliant Tempest, a rare car that was driven very well in the conditions. Steve Patten with Nigel Whiten in the Fiesta passenger seat was the most improved driver on the day. Good to see the Wills family out in force; father Mike and son Matt in the AT and Mike with 14 year old Andy in the TT, quite a challenge in the one Mazda.

Ian Webb drove a Smart, on the basis that it had very good traction in snow. He was pleased with the grip on an even slope but found that the short wheel base got a bit confused on downhill adverse camber, in fact quite challenging.

Where would we be without our marshals? A total of sixteen turned out when I’m sure they doubted their sanity early on Sunday morning, heartfelt thanks to them. How do solar powered stop watches work in the rain?  The Autotest times got slower as the day progressed, I put it down to the mud, I think I’m right!

A big thank you to Adrian who plotted a course to suit the weather and called up a lot of marshals ably managed by Graham Austin. David Bowlas, scrutineer, had the thankless task of peering under bonnets and axles whilst most of us were sheltering under umbrellas, much appreciated. Thanks also to Tim Beard of the BTRDA for providing waterproof score cards for drivers and marshals.

On behalf of the MGCC Midlands Centre it only remains for me to thank you, the competitors, for keeping the faith. See you all next year and if you’re a practicing rain dancer, stop it.   

A full set of results can be found by clicking the link here -

2019 Autumn Trial Results

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

Tony Lake - Trials Secretary MGCC Midland Centre

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