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Dave Cox starts at Gretna

Euan Macilwraith doing his thing

Cargill's and Honda NSX

Stephen Thompson and Gary Seddon in Hawain outfits. Fortunately you cannot see the shorts!

Ben Hunter brews coffee on Jeep

Line-up in the sun

Duncan Massie repairs stricken MGB in Biggar

BBC wire up the MGB at Kames

Line-up at Forrestburn

Barnett  & Scott at Forrestburn

David & Janet Barritt  on test

CT crews reach Stirling

Campbells Mini ready at the "Rest"

Cars start to gather at Inverary Castle
Click picture for full view

(Photo courtesy Mark Hooghiemstra driving the Sunbeam Alpine)

BBC crew arrive Stirling

Castle test - dusty

Andrew & Lisa Martin at Inverary

Graham Cartwright kicks up dust

Whats behind me doesn't matter!

Graeme Gallaoway's Anglia
International Autoecosse 5 & 6 June 2010
Report Jim Paterson
Thirty seven of forty entries made it to the start of the 2010 International Autoecosse at the Gretna Welcome Break services on the A74M on Saturday 5th June. The event was organised by CCHMSC, co-promoted with Club Triumph, and raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. The competitors set off under a clear blue sky, some concerned about the hot summer sunshine overheating the engines of their classic cars. Crowds using the services were drawn to the line-up, which included an entry from the BBC Landward team, who were  filming the event for a TV show.

A wide selection of cars joined the event, from Richard Lamotte's  supercharged 1958 Austin A35, which didn't hang about, to Ben Hunter's 1965 Willy's Jeep, which had driven to the event with Dennis Edwards navigating with the screen folded down. Definitely had to keep your mouth firmly closed to stop swallowing the flies! Club Triumph also sported about half the field in a selection of Spitfires, Vitesse's, Heralds, TR's and 2000 saloons. Hot favourite to win was Mike and Gillian Helm in the TR6, returning to Scotland sporting his Hey Jimmy hat, though without the “ginger” hair! Colin and Rachel Jaggard in their heavily modified 1956 Morris Minor were also serious contenders ready to give the Helm TR a run for its money. CCHMSC put up an MGB, care of Chic Doig Classic Sportscars, with club member Duncan Massie as co-driver for Landward TV presenter Euan Macilwraith.

After the formalities the cars were flagged away by Welcome Services duty manager, Ruth Green. The crews headed north west to Longtown and up to Eskdalemuir, passing the Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist retreat as they headed over to Tushielaw, and on to the Gordon Arms hotel. Heading north east the tour took in St. Mary's Loch and Meggat water before the climb up to the top of Talla, with the awe inspiring view down the valley to Tweedsmuir, and the steep descent testing the brakes of the cars.

Phil and Mike Charlton looking the part

The lunch stop at either Broughton or Biggar refuelled the crews in time for the first of several tests at some of Scotland's famous motor sporting sites. Kames race circuit in East Ayrshire was established some 25 years ago and hosts many race and sprint events. The International Autoecosse offered two agility tests and a chance to drive two laps of the circuit for each competitor during their visit. Many waited to view their colleagues, under a blazing hot sun,and watch the antics of our BBC colleagues as they filmed their car from as many angles.

After the byways of the borders roads the crews headed north through the central belt to reach the Forrestburn Hillclimb near Shotts, east of Glasgow. Notorious for being one of the wettest places in the central belt, due to it being the highest point, the organisers were delighted that the sun was still shining on the event. Even the regular marshals commented that this was the best day of the year so far! Not so for Chris and Liz Donachie whose TR4 blew its head gasket on the way over from Kames. A plume of steam and an acrid smell from the exhaust confirmed Chris's worst fears as he retired to head for home, on the back of a recovery truck. Two runs up the hillclimb were followed by two tests at the top, then off northward to Stirling for the overnight halt.

Mike Helm was already showing his skill, securing the day one lead, but only one second ahead of fellow Club Triumph colleagues Andrew and Lisa Martin's 1962 Triumph Vitesse, and Tim Bancroft's 1969 GT6, co-driven by Martin Randle.

After a meal and a night behind the bar, the CT crews know how to party when they are together, we arose to an overcast but still dry morning for the flagging off from the Premier Inn in Stirling. The route headed due west into the clearing skies for the first test at Lomond Shores, on the side of Loch Lomond. Jock Millar and Linda Telford in the 1965 MG Midget retired when ignition troubles, which had plagued them the previous day, and a failing rear wheel hub at Forrestburn put the lid on their trip. Jock did however manage Kames, where he once held the lap record in the early eighties. 

Mike Helm continued his onslaught, but CCHMSC members Donald and Margaret Campbell in their Mini matched him on the test. A gaggle of crews, including Colin Jaggard, Rob Southern, Paul Derbyshire, Phil Charlton, Andrew Martin, Tim Bancroft, Andrew Heeley and Dave Barnett were only one second behind the leaders.

Heading into Argyll and Bute over the Glen Fruin road to Lochgilphead and alongside Loch Long to Arrochar led us to Glen Croe and the Rest and be Thankful hillclimb. The General Wade road started  in 1743 was completed in 1768 as recorded in the headstone at the summit. With the opening of the new A83 road in the late 1930's the original “Rest” became a motor sport venue after the second world war. Made famous in the fifties and sixties when the RAC Hillclimb Championship contenders Dennis Poore and Ken Wharton battled it out, along with Sydney Allard and Peter Stubberdield. Our crews drove the “Rest”, which is being restored by “Friends of the Rest”, a group of enthusiasts dedicated to restoring the hillclimb for Classic car use. Stephen Thomson and Gary Seddon in their GT6 had once again changed into another garish set of bright outfits, a change from the yellow numbers on the Saturday. Colin Jaggard's Morris Minor was seen sliding gracefully on the loose gravel at several points as Colin navigated the narrow course over Stone Bridge and round the hairpins.

The route to Inverary Castle led down through Hells Glen toward Loch Fyne. The Duke is always keen to see Classic Cars at the Castle. “It gives something extra for the visitors to see” he commented. A pleasant lunch was followed by a photoshoot in front of the castle before challenging the test in the castle grounds.

With the fine weather there was much dust on the ground, making for some great photographs as the cars handbrake turned round the cones. Mike Helm was to be outrun on this test by Mike Bishop and Iveline Thomasson in the Stag, Dave Barnett and Hazel Scott in the TR3A, John Roberts and Oliver Tomlins Gilbern GT, the Spitfires of Graham Cartwright / Mark Frapwell and Paul Derbyshire, and Richard Lamotte's supercharged Austin A35, with its dodgy boost that sent the little car into the scrub on one occasion.

The final leg of the tour to the finish at Inverness had one more challenge in store. The
Corkscrew. A steep climb up from Inverfarigaig on the south side of Loch Ness, the corkscrew is more like an alpine ascent, and for larger vehicles a real challenge to make it round the hairpins.

With all remaining crews safely in at the Fairways in Inverness the prizes were presented, with  Mike Helm taking the Menton Cup as the top prize. The beers were pulled, the food eaten, and the stories of the 400 mile challenge across Scotland continued well into the evening. The new format with tests seemed to have gone down well with both CCHMSC, and Club Triumph members.

Ideas for next year are already in the pipeline. See you then, if not before.

The event raised £250 from a raffle for Macmillan Cancer Support, and the club donated a further £150, making £400 in total.


Updated 17 July 2010