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signing on time

Escort on a charge

MX5 loses grip

Shand MGF

Moke sliding on grass

Queuing for the tests

MX5 finds more grip on hill

Moke reverse to cane

MGB squeezes through

Elan FWD slips on grass

Egg balanced for run

Niven tries Shand MGF

Riley guns it on the hill

Escort first to top of the hill

Elan makes it to top as well


Graeme Gallaoway's Anglia
Grass Gymkhana - 5 August 2018

Crews gathering at the start
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 were.

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.  

I 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 would 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.

The Mini 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.

Simon 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 touching.

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.

A 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 time.

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.

Gordon 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 Fiesta......

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. 

PS - 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 down...... 

Published 7 August 2018