Race-Retro Show, Stoneleigh
Classic car enthusiasts in this beautiful part of the world are very lucky in that there is so much going on that they can do and enjoy. There are shows through the winter and summer, classic car tours and busy classic car clubs and a great deal of classic motorsport to watch or take part in.
Not only that, we have easy access to the UK and, especially in the winter, with cheap flights it is a great time to go and enjoy some of the shows in the homeland.
Last week, I was at Race-Retro which is held over three days at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry. This is probably the biggest and best of its kind in the world and is something of a ‘Mecca’ for enthusiasts of cars and motor-sport across the ages.
This huge show needs a couple of days to get around and luckily there is a reasonable hotel right in the grounds that produces a super atmosphere in the evenings with so many enthusiasts staying and old friends meeting up. It certainly worked for me!
Not only do they have hundreds of stands covering the whole spectrum of motor sport, car clubs, car tours and parts suppliers but they also have a special stage set up in the grounds, where thousands of spectators could watch rally cars from recent decades doing what they do best and used in anger. There was a special tribute to Group B rally cars which was really appreciated by the crowds.
In the main hall was a tribute to former British Rally Champion Russell Brookes who died last October. Seven of his former rally cars were on show, all in their original ‘Andrews Hear for Hire’ colours and I was pleased to see that his Manta 400 that I had driven on the Lombard Bath rally in October was also there, still carrying my rally plates from that event. Sadly, Russell died only a week or so after this rally and I know he would have been delighted with the display of his cars.
The show is set again for the end of February next year and is well worth visiting. It runs for three days, but I would recommend going for at least two days if you can!
Rallye de Almanzora
As I mentioned earlier, we are so lucky in this country that there is so much for classic car enthusiasts to do and that applies equally to the world of classic motorsport. Most of my adult life has been spent involved with motorsport and most of that in rallying specifically. I had been a regular competitor in Spanish historic rallying until around six years ago when I stopped.
Thus, it was with great excitement that I dragged my trusty old Triumph TR8 out of six years hibernation along with my dusty crash helmet to compete in the Rallye de Almanzora this weekend.
The area of Almanzora, near Baza, is famous for its marble production and also its fabulous ranges of mountains, or Sierras, providing hundreds of kilometres of mountain-goat roads that are just fabulous for rallying. The Spanish have no problems getting these roads closed which makes for spectacular rallying.
The event started on Friday afternoon with a couple of special stages in the evening in the dark, just ideal for me to get my eyes to refocus! It was with some trepidation that I edged up to start the first stage with co-driver Jose Luque. Not only can the Spanish close roads easily, they can even close the whole town. This rally was based in Olula and the first stage was a flat-out blast up the main street, twice around small roundabouts in the town and then on out to the countryside and ‘proper’ rallying. How different an atmosphere to that in the UK !
Most of the townspeople came out to see and cheer on the rally cars, not a murmur of protest anywhere, even with the town’s main through-roads closed! In fact, organisers tell me that their problems arise if they don’t go into the towns! Imagine that in the UK !!
After what seemed like a short night’s sleep and an 8.00am restart, the rally proper got going. Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong for us in the TR8 did go wrong! The first three stages were ruined due to faulty sensors in the very complex (and expensive) timing systems used in the car for this type of rallying. It meant that the first three stages were a complete disaster and we incurred large penalties.
However, good rallyists ‘never say die’ and we were able to fix the problem and start trying to haul ourselves back into contention as we went in to Stage 4. The rally continued into the afternoon and then the night with the last stages run in the dark. The last stage finishing around 10.30 Saturday night after a very long day! I am delighted to report that, after our problems initially, we won every special-stage of the rally from then until the finish eventually getting fourth overall. Not a bad re-start to rallying again and now I can’t wait for the next event!
Ruta de las Sierras Altas
The next big event on the calendar for The Classic Car Club of Andalucia is the Ruta de las Sierras Altas, a four-day classic car tour, starting next Tuesday, March 10. Cars will depart Venta Carlos del Mirador, on the Montes de Malaga road, at 11.00am and head for Colmenar, La Viñuela, Zaffaraya and a night-halt in Granada with a free night there to enjoy the delights of the tapas bars in the city.
We will have a full report on this event in our next issue.
Meantime, the CCCA will also be having a one-day classic car tour on Saturday which will start on the Almogia road, just outside Malaga, and finish at the Cerrado del Aguila Golf Club.
That’s it for now. More next time!