|Grass Gymkhana - 5 August 2018|A
great day greeted the cars and crews for the second running of our
Gymkhana at Rumbling Bridge on Sunday 5 August. With a good selection
of classic and sporting cars the crews took turns to test their skills
on a series of challenging tests that often looked easier than they
Crews gathering at the start
Organiser George Shand had put together another
interesting set of activities, some new and some favourites from the
previous years event. The crews were arriving as we setup the start and
signon with the sun breaking through the early dark clouds. The sun
shining on the grass field would be a benefit later on in the day which
would help all the crews.
Jim Watson arrived in
his 1968 MGB/GT which he, and a couple of, previous owners, also club
members, have driven to Monaco on the Rallye Monte Carlo Classique.
Norma Watson brought the family 1968 Riley Elf which she finds great
fun to drive.
Vaughn Taylor from south of Ayr arrived in his
1998 Mazda MX5 with Lewis Irwin in the left seat, though would take his
turn at the activities. Peter Yarwood sported a spectacular white 1970
Mk1 Ford Escort RS1600. This machine would eventually show us all
how to climb the hill.
From Inverness we met Norman Macfarlane
in his Mini Moke, busy tweaking the timing to overcome a misfire. True
he had trailered the car from Inverness, a wise move as a Moke is not a
motorway cruiser! Norman had just fitted a 1.75" SU in place of the
original 1.25". Still a bit of fettling required. I sympathised as I'm
in the middle of doing the same thing to my son's Sprite, swapping the
twin 1.25" carbs, which are worn out, with a 1.75" single.
The bright yellow 1991 Lotus Elan S3 of Colin Bruce arrived from
Prestwick with Gordon Reid sharing the driving.
arrived with my son Simon, not 48 hours arrived from his home in
Brisbane Australia. The plan was to use my Mazda MX5 but the kit we
needed to bring for the event organisation precluded that and we
arrived in the 'mum bus', my wifes' Range Rover Evoque. White knights
come to our rescue in the form of Vaughn Taylor who allowed Simon and I
to drive his Mazda MX5 on the first round, and Jim Watson lent us his
MGB/GT for the second. What a day this was turning out to be, and we
were only starting.
The 'Hill' was first on our list. Now
unlike the deep south where grass fields are burned to a cinder and
look more like the Australian Outback (which would have suited Simon I'm
sure) our field was still lush green grass. Still slightly damp after
the overnight dew meant grip was at a premium. The Watson's MGB/GT and
Riley Elf could make no further than gate 3 of the 8 gates to pass
through on the way to the top.
This should be easy to improve
on, or so everyone thought. Peter Yarwood tried a bit harder but the
result was much the same. He would adopt a different strategy for the
second run which would transform his performance.
Moke with Norman Macfarlane, assisted by 'demon tweaker' Richard
Bartniczek fared not much better, the front wheel throwing the cow
deposits in all directions.
The Lotus crew too had difficulty,
again the front wheel drive finding it difficult to get a grip. They
too would change strategy and improve later in the day.
and myself jumped in the Vaughn Taylor MX5 but found it difficult to
improve on Vaughn's performance. I think best was getting to gate 4,
for any of the crews.
Next was getting through the narrow
gate, without touching the sides of the car. Easier than you think and
the winner would be the car closest to the guide canes, without
We repeated last years 'blind test' where the
driver wears a blackout eye mask and the co-driver guides the
driver around the course, again without hitting any of the canes. The
driver soon becomes totally disoriented and the test is really having
complete faith in your co-driver 's instructions. Really scary.
new activity for the day was a variation of the egg and spoon race. The
driver, balancing a golf ball on a spoon (saves a pile of broken eggs),
held outside the drivers window. Each run covered a 50 metre course, round
a pin at the end and head back to the start. Now the course was
anything but flat and smooth, so the technique was to use your arm as a
suspension 'wishbone' to soak up all the bumps and twists. Most crews
managed a clean run, some, including the Moke covering it in record
After our lunch of hot coffee, sandwiches and danish
pastries we were off again. By now the sun had dried the grass and
together with the padding down on the first run made grip levels
improve dramatically. The Watson MGB/GT impressed us all by getting
straight up to the top, which would help Simon and I later when we
borrowed the MGB. The Yarwood Escort RS 1600 seemed to tear up the
hill, as if on a special stage. There was some discussion over the
passenger taking to the back seat and jumping up and down to provide
that little bit extra downforce. A stewards inquiry agreed that it was
a 'racing', sorry Gymkhana incident, so he got away with it.
Reid took the Bruce Elan up as if it had spiked tyres. His performance
on this and the other tests would see him collect the overall prize.
Colin was no slouch in his own car either. Vaughn and Lewis
reached the top in the MX5 and club committee member Tom Niven showed
how its done in George Shand's MGF, and a Ford Fiesta, but don't tell anyone as he had borrowed
The gate test got harder as the canes were put
closer together and the blind driver test put 'spacial awareness' and
codriver trust to a real test.
The egg and spoon saw some very
confident attempts with speeds increasing to reduce the overall time for
the out and return legs. Unfortunately I found the Jim Watson MGB/GT
too stiffly sprung to keep the ball on the spoon, though my son Simon
had no problem.
At the end of the afternoon we presented the
bottle of 'bubbly' in true F1 style to the man of the day Gordon Reid.
A retreat to the local Crook of Devon hostelry for light refreshments
and a few tall tales finished of a great day having fun in a field
under the sun.
A big thanks to all the competitors, marshals, and organiser George Shand.
- George Shand upset my day when he told me my son Simon beat me by
only 1 second!
Seems Jet Lag does nothing to slow you
|Published 7 August 2018|