Monte Carlo Historique Start - 28 January
Story Jim Paterson, Photos - Andy Thomlinson
Snow gently starts to fall on the line up of classics in front of Paisley Abbey
big day had arrived and everyone was ready to begin. The Monte cars
were scrutineered nearby the start location, where Claude Plasseraud
and William Ritchie , chief scrutineers from the host club ACM in
Monaco supported by MSA scrutineers and CCHMSC club members Ian and
Catherine Higgins checked the cars over.
Monte cars at scrutineering
All was going well
until Xerxes Matten (aka Zak) rolled in with his Ford RS 1600 Mk1
Escort, sounding a bit rough. Concern was obvious when the engine
failed to restart for the scrutineer. A whiff of diesel was in the
air and a quick check proved what everyone dreads, pouring diesel into
a petrol car! A quick check of the fuel purchase made on the way
to scrutineering confirmed the worst. 70 litres of diesel. Oops.
Fortunately the scrutineering facility had a fuel eco friendly fuel
disposal system so tank drained, lines cleared and, thanks to Jim
Wilson who had organised the Ecosse to Reims tour, and is a great
mechanic as well, stripped the twin Webber 45's and cleaned them out
too. Firing up the Escort produced a bit of black smoke for a bit but
soon cleared to save the day. Well done Jim.
Zak was not the
only one to have a heart stopping moment. Ranald White with his Rover
2000 TC P6 sailed through scrutineering only to stop on the approach to
the start venue. No sparks cried club member and retired AA engineer
Gordon Anderson. But the crew had it all in hand. Dud distributor, but
as any good rally driver knows, always have a spare in the boot. Quick
change and all back working. Phew!
By now the snow showers had
reached Paisley, and as the day progressed it covered the cars in
Parc Fermé with a fine white covering.
main Historique entries were some 15 crews on the Ecosse to Reims tour,
plus 50 cars on the club Heritage runs, 30 to the Loch and 20 to the
Borders. In addition we had the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Judo Champion
Chris Sherrington in his Le Mans Triumph Spitfire, last seen at the press launch
as car double zero, with wife Zoe reading the maps, and Glasgow start
coordinator, and club member Douglas Anderson with
wife June heading up in car Zero, the 1962 Austin Healey
The crowds started to
gather from 4.00pm onward and at 6.45pm it was time for the press and opening cars
to head off on their way,
Ann Hall flagged the cars away, as chief timekeeper and CCHMSC club
member Maurice Millar clocked them out. First away would be the
1935 Bentley Derby of Chris
Broom-Smith and Andrew Green as the Press car. Press cars were a common
feature of the Monte in the old days, driven by journalists and
photographers from newspapers, magazines or BBC radio (No TV then).
They would phone or telex (who remembers that technology?) their copy
back to base. The Presse plate on Chris's car is genuine,
being used on the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally.
signing on Chris, who had driven from home in Dumfries looked somewhat
snow blown in his period mackintosh coat. "Whiteout on the way here to
Paisley" he reported. "The flat windscreen of the Bentley simply acts
as a wall for the snow, and the wipers don't help much". Chris
mentioned something like a 5 degree arc of wipe for the wipers, in the
snow, plus the windscreen isn't exactly waterproof, hence the damp
looking raincoat! He added "The headlamps may be as big as dinner
plates but they are flat too and soon snow up". More like a blackout
during the war years I guessed.
bang on 7.00pm the first Monte Historique
car, Zak's 1972 Escort RS, now on song and in fine fettle, with
Clifford Debono from Malta, headed off the ramp, to plumes of
steam (not from the car) which would send off all the following
cars. Not a puff of black smoke to be seen. Diesel free!
Local Glasgow team Glen's headed out, father and
son Gordon and David in a 1978 Opel Kadett GTE. Nephew David
followed in a 1976 Triumph Dolomite Sprint, both cars were well
prepared and turned out. As regular Monte competitors, the Glen's leave
nothing to chance.
Paisley had attracted Australians James
Rigney and Steve Caygill who on a whim purchased a 1979 Porsche 924 to
enter the event, and Michel Chatagny and Fabrice Redard from
Switzerland who started in a 1963 Mini Cooper 1071 S.
Stewart Hutton and Sean Hanlon were next in a rally prepared
Austin 1800 land crab, with so many lights I thought it would tip on to
its nose. Goodness knows the output of the alternator required,
approaching a small poswer station I guessed!
team Ranald White and Karsten Brown in the now fettled Rover 2000TC
completed the Historique runners, showing no signs of the ignition
issues earlier in the day.
Ecosse Reims tour crews headed off behind Jim Wilson, still reeking
(scottish term for strong smell) of diesel, in his VW Beetle, with
wife Nikki, calling the route. Jim
had it well sorted, as he roared off the ramp. I thought he was
going to catch the Historique cars at the rate he was motoring off!
Family member James Wilson got the Triumph Vitesse running to join with
Lisa Hunter. Man with a camera, Alan Duncan, was at the wheel of
his Toyota Celica with Catherine Laszock on maps. Felt like old
times for club member Ian Dixon in his MGB/GT returning to Europe where
he challenged the Tulip Rally in May 2014. This time wife Gladys was reading maps.
Duncan Massie and Ron Adam headed off in Duncan's Triumph TR7. The pair
had decided to keep going all the way to Monte Carlo after reaching
Reims on the tour. Austin Maxi enthusiasts Des Cannaway and Alan Mackay
had also added a few lights for the trip. both have ventured the Maxi into France on several previous 'sorties' to Monte.
Both are well used to using a spanner on the old girl, as she usually grinds to a halt at some point.
but not least was an early 'original' Fiat 500 with Martin/Murphy crew
squeezed inside. At a cruising speed of 40 to 45 mph it will be a long
Last but not least the Fiat 500 crew squeezed into the little car, top speed around 45mph. Long trip to Reims.
club Heritage crews were next over the ramp. Fifty cars lined up with
30 off to the Loch, and 20 to the Borders. The first Heritage car, and
winner of the 'Best Car' award, was the 1955 Sunbeam Talbot 90 Mk111 of
club member Donald Campbell with Roddie Main guiding, both from
Inverness. Donald's 1955 Mk3 is the same model that is featured
on the official Monte 2015 poster, being the 60th anniversary of
the victory of Per Malling and Gunnar Fadum’s Sunbeam Talbot Mk
III in 1955. Collecting the 'Best Dressed Crew' were Brian and
Marion Hopkins. Brain suitably dressed in his plus 4's and Marion in
coat with fur collar to drive their Morgan 4/4.
was ahead of the Loch crews, who routed out to Linwood and past
the site of the old Rootes Factory famous for the manufacture of
Hillman Imps, over the Erskine Bridge up the side of the Gare Loch to
the Faslane nuclear submarine dock. By now the snow was falling again,
with whiteout conditions over the Haul road (A817) to Loch Lomond.
rising to 660 feet in blinding snow gave the crews that 'Monte'
alpine feeling. Reaching Loch Lomond, the finish at Luss was only
a few miles ahead, and warm soup, bacon rolls and hot tea defrosted
even the most snow covered crews.
run to the borders were meeting their own snow showers as they headed
down the old A77 and A76 to Auldgirth. Roland Proudlock of the
South of Scotland Car Club SOSCC with a few of their members helped us
out with marshalling the cars at the finish. Again a hot meal and
drinks refreshed the crews. Some of the Ecosse Reims crews also called
in on their way to the overnight halt, just south of Carlisle.
great tales of endurance were told over a hot coffee. Who needs to go
to France to enjoy snow covered routes and alpine passes, when you need
go no further then Paisley and the Scottish hills?
A full set of photos of the start from our club member and ace photogrpaher Andy Thomlinson is here
Updated 30 January 2015