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NATIONAL RALLY 1980

 

'Navigator to Pilot' ...... 'Come in Navigator' ..........

'Prepare to throttle back and descend to ground level as we are approach-

ing the North Circular Rad' ......... 'Wilco over and out'. Yet another Land Rover Convoy came out of Hyperdrive and swooped down the slip road off the M1 to navigate the treacherous wastes of the notorious North Circular en route to Petworth and the 3rd Association of Rover Clubs National Rally. Grounded flights had already been passed at the Services as the pace got too hot for the Harrogate end but the target was in sight, or so we thought, so it was crash on regardless!

Determined not to be caught out by the GLC 'sign 'em out of London campaign we stuck resolutely to the planned flight path ignoring the Siren like signposts that beckoned us on shorter and better ways to our destinations ..... we'd been caught like that before, not this time though they weren't going to send us on a wild goose chase round London Airport again, not likely!!!

 

'Pilot to Navigator' ........ 'Why is Concorde parked at the back of that building?' ........ 'It's a'cardboard replica put there to fool you! Ignore it!' ........ Despite every precaution, the Greater London Council won yet again and we still ended up with Jumbo Jets bouncing their wheels on .the truck cab as they came in to land! Yet another sacked navigator! By the time we were on the last leg to Petworth on the A283 it was all remote control and switched over to Automatic Pilot, you wake up when the wheel hits the curb! Sometime around 3-0 am we lowered the undercarriage and bounced in for a 3 Rover landing in the late/early arrivals compound, followed some scant minutes later by the Volvo F88 Jumbo outfit of David 'Eckky' Ecclestone with 4 triallers on board and the whistle of airbrakes, more Pennine had landed!

 

This year's National is the 3rd under the ARC banner and the 25th since its inception in 1955, I couldn't help wondering if there's anyone who's been to them all? I've managed just under half of them, 12 to be precise. The first thing to strike you about Petworth, even after only 5 hours kip, is that it was a well laid out place in a beautiful setting.

 

Hundreds of trees had been cleared, fences erected, water laid in, buildings put up and that was only for the caravan site, the same had happened in the surrounding woods to enable the Trial and Comp Safari courses to be laid out. As with most large events there were problems, specifically with regard to towing attachments with the result that many entries in the Team Recovery, particularly Pennine, did not enter. It was a muddy, sloppy Team Recovery and eventually Bill Leacock's Team took the Standard Class 1st prize. Bill was wearing his other colours for the Yorkshire this year, Pennine's only placing on the Team Recovery was David Ecclestone (driving Alan Panter's motor) and George Carruthers, who got 3rd in the Standard Class. The Gymkhana was a very slick affair involving much more driver  ather than passenger skill this year and it's probably for this reason that Pennine did nothing at all in this event other than make up the numbers! The concourse was of course devoid of any PLRC badges, which is perhaps as well when you look at some of the magnificent vehicles on display there, not everybody’s idea of fun I know,  but you can't help but admire the amount of sheer dedicated hard work their owners put in to the vehicles. The winch recovery involved moving a large log around the woods, and then putting it back where you found it, just to make it interesting! There was only one Pennine Team (if it could ,be called that!) entered and they finally won it after having to resort to physical persuasion to stop one team member (spelt President) from demolishing penalty markers with the rope. Haigh, Millington and Hartley used 'Arry's Turner winch to haul in the Fairey winches first prize!

 

The best news of the day for me was when I finally discovered that Pennine hadn't got a team in the Clay Pigeon Shoot held that evening, my misgivings on Pennine Pot shotting at things were well publicised previously and it was with great relief that I steered our only gun toting member, Jim Jobson, into the Lanes and Cheshire Team, ensuring their downfall in the process. Meanwhile back at the site the kids bike trial was in progress with all the determination and ferocity of their parents in the Land Rover Trial the kids battled away. Leacock Junior, unlike Dad, remained loyal to  Pennine and pedalled off with 2nd prize in the 5 - 8 year old section, while 6 year old Helen Strafield. took 3rd prize for Pennine, and that's with no practise either!

 

Saturday was without doubt a hectic start to the weekend and this was only the warm up for the two main events of the weekend. The trial had 150 entries and of these 35 were from PLRC, with just under a quarter of the entries we managed to lift just under half the trophies, 8 out of 18. Against all expectations the trial was a mud bath in places, I think everyone was expecting fairly sandy, dry sections, not a bit of it, there were bogs that had 4 wheel drive tractors stood at the side of them ready to heave out the unwary! There was even a deep water section some 2-3 feet deep and it is my fervent and most ardent hope that someone out there has got a black and white photo of Big N, none other than our very own President, the man who thinks Wellingtons are bombers, doing the biggest ever belly flop in his Series 2. Water up to the sun visor. The crowd loved it! They loved it even more when it promptly cut out leaving a marooned Millington with muddy water slopping at his feet waiting for recovery, come on all you photo takers, this is your big chance! (Remember it was a photo of the self same gent pulling an equally silly stunt at last year's National that won Malcolm Foreman his half share at the Piccy of the Year Award!)

 

The trial was very good with plenty of variety and plenty of width even for the big motors, and was all laid out round a carefully thought out one way system that automatically took you to the start of the next section, (they must have known we were coming!) Apart from one, all the trophies that came Pennine's way in the trial were won by street legal Land Rovers that drove down to Petworth, and more important, back again. In Class 2  Series 1 and Lightweight Standard) Mick Moore got 3rd with 32 pts. In Class 3 (Standard Series 2/3) Mick Henney was first with 56 pts, Alan Jeffery 2nd with 58 pts and Cliff Roberts, otherwise known as Diesel Dan, was 3rd with 59 pts. Class 5 (Series 1 and Lightweight Special) saw a clean sweep again. Ted Hartley was 1st with 32 pts, Steve Houldsworth 2nd with 36 pts and lan Bartram 3rd with 38 pts (and a lot on his mind!) Last but not least Howard Leahy took his Perkins powered Series 2 hard top to 2nd Class 6 with 59 pts.

 

The arguments of the previous day seemed to have been forgotten by this time and most people were back in the swing. There was entertainment of some kind every evening, from music and sheep roasts to trying to get a drink at the bar, all good clean fun! And naturally there was a very large Pennine contingent here too!

 

The Comp Safari day on Monday was a belter, lovely weather and lovely course, for once the organisers had been conservative over the distance, it was supposed to have been 1.3 miles long but the consensus of opinion among the entrants was that it was over 2 miles. There were mud wallows, vertical drops, fast twisty tracks through the trees, a fabulous chicane right through the centre of the farm yard that was ace for spec tators, who could sit outside the bar drinking their liquor while watching the motors powerslide through and attempt to miss the parked JCB (one didn't!), all very Monaco Grand Prix stuff! This was followed by a very fast stretch up a track into the finish field, the last obstacle before the finish line being a sharp ridge which caught an amazing number of people!

 

Three runs all to count, first to fall as camera fodder on the final ridge was Alan Beaumont of YROC, he really stood his Lightweight on its tail, left it there for a fraction of a second while all the shutters went off, then landed it with such a crack that the N/S front wheel was just about at 45 degrees to the body work ...... exit stage left! This spectacle slowed the other potential film stars down a bit, except Dave Simmonite, whose coil spring suspension should give years of comfortable nights! The overall lead became a scrap between John Lister, Dave Simmonite and Colin Parkes of S&S, John got it all wrong just before the finish line and did a glorious 4 foot high leap into a privet hedge, ending up looking as if he'd grown out of the hedge rather than landed in it, he did however manage to back out and finish his lap, complete with bent chassis and the latest crinkle cut springs. That left Colin and David to sort it out between them, Dave eventually getting the 1st with Colin 2nd, but snatching the fastest run of the day to make up. The other classes were having equally hard fought battles, the 2%s being only a few seconds behind the V8s (un fortunately I haven't got the complete results for the Comp Safari, so you'll have to wait till next month for a full results sheet.)

 

Another good event to finish the weekend which I thoroughly enjoyed and I don't think I'll be exaggerating when I say that the whole contingent enjoyed their National, arguments and everything!

 

The Southern Rover Owners Club had obviously put a lot of hard work into the preparation for the event and it's all credit to them for the excellent weekend.

 

A mention must be made of Cumbrian Rover Owners Club (CROC if you want to make it snappy!) who with only 7 entries seemed to spend so much time on the platform shaking hands it was almost becoming habit forming, big may be beautiful but small is sweet!

 

Many members made as much use of the petrol getting to that part of the country as possible by staying on for a week's holiday either at the Anglian ROC holiday rally that followed or somewhere on the South coast.

 

Don't worry lads, next year it's on the doorstep .... Derbyshire to be precise, at a new site hosted by the Peak and Dukeries Land Rover Club . . see you there!

 

 
 
MSA and ARC club members are welcome to come along and join our events. Phone Mark on 07866 506521 / 01282 703718

 

 

Pennine Land Rover Club, Pennine LRC