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CCHMSC member Richard Welsh guides Ian this time

Background to the event and location - Richard Welsh

Many years ago, the White Heather Rally was a good stage rally which, like so many others faded into memory.

Wigton CC have resurrected it as a test-only event for historic and targa classes run on the vast Kirkbride aerodrome. This was built at the start of WW2 as a place to store new aircraft before delivery to operational squadrons.

The White Heather Hotel
adjacent to the aerodrome was used as the HQ for the Air Transport Auxiliary whose job was to deliver the aircraft. Initially staffed by retired RAF
pilots, the ATA was known to stand for Ancient and Tatty Airmen but soon many women took on the task of flying all types of planes from Spitfires to Lancaster bombers. The hotel still stands and made an ideal HQ for the rally.

One thing to remember though will be that the tarmac on these airfields was deliberately made abrasive to help slow down the aircraft on landing and it certainly takes its toll on tyres. The ones on  the rears had three millimetres of tread when we started the rally but were showing the wire of the carcasses by the time it was finished!

Too much excitement on the tests lleads to this sorry state. Just as well it is going home on the trailer!

Graeme Gallaoway's Anglia
Ian Dixon, on a mission - White Heather Rally 5 March
Story Ian Dixon (MGB/GT Car no 27) & Richard Welsh

The Wigton Motor Club ran the White Heather Historic Rally on Saturday 5th March, located entirely on Kirkbride airfield Wigton. Twentyfour tests and only 2 miles of public road used made for a very compact but enjoyable event.

Dixon MGB/GT in lineup at Wigton

For this event Maurice Millar was not available to navigate so I press ganged fellow CCHMSC member Richard Welsh, my number 2 navigator, into the silly seat. We left on Friday afternoon and stayed in B&B near the venue and got an early start on Saturday morning. The trailer park was close to the start and we were quickly through the noise test and scrutineered by John Graham and Chris Leece. No problems and so to signing on and document checks, we were car no 26, with a total entry of 27.

The format for this event was 6 tests named “ White Heather, Stampers, Kerr, Rudd,
M Sport and Monks Dyke”.

Entrants were split into groups of 5, each group had a different start test and rotated around the tests until all tests had been completed 4 times giving a total of 24 tests for the day, 12 before lunch and 12 after lunch. This format meant minimal waiting at the start of every test with the day flowing and being very enjoyable.

An unusual feature of the event location was that thanks to the large amount of space (and sufficient marshals), all six tests would run simultaneously so instead of the entire field starting at test one, we were split in to groups with one group starting at each test and then moving round. The downside for us was that due to our late entry we started at test six which was the most complex.

So no chance of a gentle wake up for driver and navigator as we headed towards some cones that had been placed VERY close to a couple of old hangars. As these were built to withstand German bombs, they weren't going to suffer in a collision with an MGB so we had to take it easy. A problem with the organisers' diagram caused a slight hiccup but it was the same for everyone.

Our first test was Monks Dyke, based on a side road off the air field. We started with chicanes and a stop astride into a cattle grid, continuing onto 3 groups of 4 cones where we had to enter center and exit left of a group of 4 cones. 90 right along the rear 2 cones, 90 right back through the center and exit between the same cones as you entered, sounds simple but most crews got this wrong all day. We however got it wrong the first run but then cracked it and got it correct on the next 3 runs. To be fair to Richard two additional cones were present on the test that were not shown on the diagram but did make a lot of difference to the test route.

White Heather next, a fast flowing test around 12 cones on the full width of the runway, no buildings or obstacles of any sort, but included a 360 around 2 cones and a very tight 360 around 1 cone and a couple of 180 around cones.

M Sport test was as we have used before on the Solway rally, a quick blast up a runway with cones as gates and chicanes, the only difference being a water splash more resembling an Olympic swimming pool at a good 200 meters long and no way of avoiding it. The question on everyones lips was can we take this flat out or do we tip toe through it? We plumped for the middle option maximum revs but not flat out. It seemed to pay off as several competitors ended up with wet feet pushing their cars out mid puddle to the end to dry them out.

Kerr’s on the main run way again but very slippy with little or no grip after the only shower of the day. Rudd, similar to Kerr’s but more involved with toing and frowning up and down the test. Finally Stampers, a fast flowing test around cones but very close to farm machinery, buildings and loading bays. An enjoyable test but not to everyone’s liking.

We finished the day at second in class and fourth overall, my thanks to Richard for steering me to a great result.

A very well run and organized event at a spectacular location and hopefully will become an annual event. Our only issue of the day was only apparent when putting the car on the trailer to come home, I caught my hand on wire sticking out of the rear tyres which had 3 mm of tread when starting the rally in the morning, a sign I must have been trying harder on this rally !.     

Ian Dixon       MGBGT car no 26.  

Updated  9 March 2016