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Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial

Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial 2014

Scrutineering & Concours D’Equipement

A cloudy morning gave way to stunning weather to greet the competitors to Woodcote Park for the 2014 1000 Mile Trial, it wasn’t just the weather that took the breath away, the sheer quality of the machinery on show was one of the highlights of the summer motoring calendar.Pride of place was reserved for the Triumph Dolomite 8C of Jonathan Turner and Ben Cussons, displaying contrasting white and red roses on her sides as Yorkshire and Lancashire called a temporary truce to engage as one in battle with competitors from further afield. The event has a truly cosmopolitan feel with competitors from all over Europe and as far afield as Australia making the journey to Epsom for the start of the event.

After completing scrutineering and documentation, the competitors took part in a wonderful concours d’equipement situated on the manicured lawns of Woodcote Park, country home of the Royal Automobile Club. Overlooking the first test for the 1000 Mile Trial, The Captains Drive, the cream of pre-1940 vehicles assembled to be considered as the finest. Amongst the entries, an Alfa Romeo 6c superleggera resplendent in its deep red drew many an admiring glance. One of the stars of the show is ‘Little George’, the diminuitive Austin Seven who, with much coaxing and cajoling had completed the over 2000 mile journey from London to Lisbon, Portugal, even entering into Portugal with his own marching band to serenade and guide him over the last few miles. The concours however was claimed by the beautifully presented MG K3 aof Alan and Tina Beardshaw, the detailing and work that had gone into this amazing vehicle overshadowing the rarified air surrounding some of the more exotic counterparts.

Crews enjoyed a fine meal prepared by several top chefs, coupled with the magnificent surroundings of the imposing Woodcote Park ended the prologue on what is to be a mouthwatering event for connoisseurs of vehicles from the pre-1940’s. We start tommorrow at 08:01 with the mighty Dolomite leading the way up The Captains Drive on an amazing journey to re-create the adventure that brought modern motoring to the United Kingdom. Stay with us, join us even as we make our way around some of the finest roads and scenery in our Island, the 1000 Mile Trial starts tomorrow, we look forward to your company.


Day 1, 13th July 2014, Epsom to Tewkesbury

A damp and drizzly morning greeted the competitors of the inaugural Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial in association with Historic Endurance Rally Organisation. The event started from the wonderful surroundings of Woodcote Park, Epsom, the country retreat of the Royal Automobile Club.

The quality of the vehicles on show was second to none, the concours d’elegance being won by the stunning MG K3 of Alan and Tina Beardshaw, a very proud moment as the little car held its own against some of the most exotic and beautiful machinery the historic rallying world has to offer. Some competitors had gone to great lengths to join the event, James and Andrew Mann had hoped to campaign the family Lagonda, prior to the event, a date on the BBC One Show had to be abandoned due to mechanical difficulties, this didn’t bode well for the brothers, their chosen vehicle had to be swapped for another vehicle in their fold, a Bentley 4 ¼ Litre. Several competitors from Portugal had opted to drive their vehicles through Europe, joining the event as it wound its way north on the first leg.

At 08:01 exactly, Jonathan Turner and Ben Cussons led the pack away from Woodcote Park in the Triumph Dolomite 8C, the engine note crisp and reverberating as it charged up The Captains Drive taking the event west and heading into the lanes around Dorking. A leisurely run out to the first test at Dunsfold eased the crews into the event; Clerk of Course Guy Woodcock had spent many hours in getting the exit from Woodcote Park just right, crews found the lanes free of traffic and easy to pass through. The first regularity took in a short section to the south east of Whitchurch, designed to ease newcomers into regularity rallying, most crews escaped with minor penalties, with the top crews cleaning the section with ease. A short link section from Ibthorpe to just south west of Newbury at Inkpen saw the first proper regularity take place, still a relatively easy affair it was here that a battle was starting to appear already. John Abel and Martyn Taylor had a superb run today, dropping just one second overall on the regularities and cleaning the tests, however, the much fancied Alfa of Alistair Caldwell and Catriona Rings were snapping at their heels on just three seconds penalties in total. Lunch was taken at The Vineyard at Stockcross, this was a relaxed affair affording competitors the chance to enjoy a fine meal in beautiful surroundings. As crews re-grouped the stories started to emerge about the day’s events, the Mann brothers having a scrape on a tight hairpin and dinking their bumper, other crews having problems were Philip White and Ian Wallace, their diminutive Austin Seven, a mysterious plug-fouling causing them concern, but a string of steady regularities interspersed with excellent test results for the novice crew left them in a lofty fourth overall much to the bemusement of the crew.

Following on from lunch, the 1000 Mile Trial started to heads further north, the rolling hills of The Cotswolds giving the competitors breath-taking views as they navigated the lanes around Chaddleworth, Wantage and the Leach Valley. The weather had improved vastly and the sun shone brightly over Oxfordshire. Abel and Taylor refused to be budged from their number one spot, the tussle with Caldwell and Rings raging hard, the picture postcard villages of Wyck Rissington and Lower Slaughter hosting the passage of these amazing vehicles to the final test of the day and one of the most eagerly anticipated at Prescott. The world famous motor sport venue letting the more enthusiastic drivers show off their prowess before making the final short motorway hop to Tewkesbury and the final control of the day.

Several vehicles were requiring attention, the MG K3 of The Beardsmores being one, the overnight halt was a scene of frantic activity as crews readied their vehicles for tomorrow’s run. Starting at 07:30 crews will be re-seeded with the slower vehicles running away first and having to have an early night to afford the front runners a little extra time in bed. We head tomorrow through Shropshire and head to Cheshire, and finally to Preston for the overnight halt at the Marriot Hotel near Broughton. The 1000 Mile Trial has started well, the sheer class of not only the cars, but also those taking part is showing already, this will be an amazing extended battle, keep checking back to see who will be the winner.

Day 2 14th July, Tewkesbury to Preston.

The weather was once again kind to the 1000 Mile Trial with a glorious morning greeting competitors as they departed from Tewkesbury. Today, the pressure was raised a little as the regularity presentation changed from the “Jogularity” style to a more traditional map and speed table approach. Visiting the well known Throckmorton site at Pershore was the first order of the day, a very long test to to wake bot driver and navigator up.  Then, like a shot of espresso, crews were asked to complete a test beginning with a Le Mans style start where one of the crews had to run to a vehicle and fasten a seatbelt, if fitted, before proceeding on their way.  From here we ventured north west towards Shelsley Walsh, the anticipation was high, not only for the hill climb and the stunning view from the top, but also the wonderful coffee and selection of cakes available!

Amongst the famous vehicles taking part is the Invicta S Type Low Chassis of Alan Brown, Alan, proudly displaying an image of his very car on Shelsley in the 30’s was quite taken aback by it all, an obviously proud and deliciously wonderful moment to re-unite the vehicle with the hill. Two regularities followed, one taking in the village of Lyneal where it seemed many of the villagers had took it upon themselves to throw a party. Dressed in period costume, and even constructing a video camera that was made to resemble a speed camera, they fully embraced the spirit of the 1000 Mile Trial. Everywhere we have been, it seems the spirit and charm of this amazing event is touching the people. Whilst driving down a lane we came across a gentleman, in a very remote position sat quietly waiting to see the vehicles and dreams of his youth pass by.

Not only is the event a celebration of the wonderful vehicles that have shaped motoring history, it is a very social event, we have had a fantastic lunch today at Rowton Castle, Shropshire and also a delightful High Tea at Arley Hall, the test preceeding was met with gusto, many of the 70-80 year old vehicles being driven with a style that can only be described as spirited!

The crews resumed battle straight away this morning, there have been some movements in the leaderboard with some fantastic performances amongst the crews. Claus and Till Coester have been the big movers, their stunning Bentley Lies in equal third with Alistair Caldwell and Catriona Rings’ Alfa 6C. In fifth are Sue Shoosmith and Trina Harley, not even a stone caught in their rear axle could stop a wonderfully consistent performance from these experienced competitors. Charles Graves and Ron Palmer are another old ( with respect !) pair of hands in historic rallying, they have leapfrogged Caldwell/Rings into second, leaving John Abel and Martyn Taylor still on top spot by 31 seconds.

Slipping slightly are Philip White and Ian Wallace, some mechanicals in their Austin Seven, nicknamed “Lawnmower” have troubled them, the solution was to visit a local garden machinery supply centre and buy a set of plugs from a lawnmower, teir troubles have been eased but the transition to maps has slipped them down the order a little.

We will post more as we have it, thanks for all the messages, we are glad you are enjoying the 1000 Mile Trial!

Day 3, 15th July, Preston to Edinburgh

Another beautiful day greeted grews as the 1000 Mile Trial left Preston, a short hop up the motorway to Caton saw the event take in the stunning lanes of north Lancashire and south Cumbria. First up was the favourite of many road rallies, Gunnerthwaite, this tricky to find junction catching many out and sending a message out that things were starting to become that little bit more interesting. Overnight leaders John Abel/ Martyn Taylor had issues on Gunnerthwaite, the trip sensor failing and a hasty repair was called for soon after leaving the regularity. Taylor is a local lad to these lanes and he re-inforced this with a superb display on the regularities today.

Heading north via Killington to morning coffee, the 1000 Mile Trial wended its way via Kings Meaburn ford towards Penrith, it was here that we sadly lost the Morgan of Urz & Nick Mezger, the little three wheeler crying no more, unable to continue.  Many regular competitors were out to support the event, the test at Waters farm was like a who’s who of northern road rallying with Bob Hargreaves, Bob Mc Clean, Tot & Maureen Dixon and others all out to share their experience and help a superbly received test run. The lanes open out slightly now and the hills of the lakes gave way to the rolling southlands of southern Scotland. Crews were in awe of the roads around Kershope and Newcastleton, many asking if the event had built these lanes especially for them! A particular favourite was a link section coming out of the regularity to the west of Kershope with many describing this as a drivers dream. Woll Rig welcomed the 1000 Mile Trial to Scotland and a visit to Bowhill House proved the highlight of the competitive day, many describing it as the best test they had ever done, and asking for a second run around the scenic and testing section. The public were out in force as we headed into Edinburgh, as soon as the cars arrived a mass of people were there to inspect and join in the fun of the 1000 Mile Trial. In fact, as crews were leaving for their evening on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, people were milling around the cars, this went on until the late evening, provin just what a draw these pre 1940 vehicles are.

We leave Edinburgh this morning and start to head south via Duns, Northam and Alnwick, where the cars and crews will be at Alnwick Castle around 16:00 for a short while. Thank you for the huge response and for coming out to see these amazing vehicles, we hope to see you along the way.


 Day 4, 16th July, Edinburgh to Slaley

A damp and dismal morning greeted the competitors in Edinburgh for the 1000 Mile Trial, however, after spending last night on board The Royal Yacht Britannia for a superb meal and tour of the vessel, the smiles on competitors’ faces more than made up for the poor weather that had been installed for the morning. Leaving at the later time of 10:30 am, a link section took the event to Whitekirk Golf Club for a test close by to them named Scoughall. The navigation was now starting to become technical, the first three days were a gentle starter, today saw the event move up a gear to really start shaking the competition up. This started to show in the regularities today, where Claus & Till Coester missed an instruction and went wrong in their Bentley, dropping them down the leader board significantly.

A crew on the move are Alastair Caldwell and Catriona Rings, they are now in third having pipped Sue Shoosmith and Trina Harley into fourth by 21 seconds. Heading south after the wonderfully named, Lammermuir Lanes regularity, we lost Colin Mackenzie and Richard Dresner due to mechanical difficulties, they had been having a great event in the Lea Francis Hyper, but sadly they could go no further. Amongst the crews John and Pauline Dignan are putting in some super consistent times and are having great fun in their superb MG TA. A similar car has Martin and Lesley Neal on board, a mysterious problem with their trip meter has been rectified leaving the husband and wife pair without any excuses for wrong slots now! A trip into The Jim Clark Rooms at Duns followed; with a time control sited there it gave a great opportunity for all to see the legendary drivers trophies up close and allow the event to re-group.

The rain was now becoming heavier and a trip over the Chillingham Moors for a regularity section was the next action. Duncan Wiltshire has now teamed up with Robert Crofton, the Bentley pair making great headway and lying 12th overall, a short hop along the A1 took us to Hulne Park, a test here allowing the drivers to show their skills before we headed to the stunning Alnwick Castle, home of the first two ‘Harry Potter’ films.  Crews are revelling in the roads found for them by Guy Woodcock and Anthony Preston, many commenting on the quality of the route and the road books supplied and deeming them the best they have used, high praise indeed. After Alnwick Castle, the 1000 Mile Trial headed further south, crossing the stunning moorland and scenery of Harwood and Rothbury Forests avoiding the rush hour traffic on the A1 before making our way back to Slaley Hall via a regularity section around Blackburn Abbey.

Abel and Taylor still hold on to their top spot by a minute and a half, behind them the pressure is mounting on Graves/Palmer as Caldwell/Rings sit just two seconds off them after a bad day in the office for the Bentley pair. We are heading for an epic battle over the next couple of days, no competitor can afford to relax as we still have a tight event and the penalties for missing a control or section can change everything. Tomorrow sees us on another short day, however, this does not mean respite for the crews, the sections planned tomorrow will be testing as well as jaw droppingly beautiful, the event can be viewed as we pass over Bollihope & Egglestone Common (B6278) in the morning, first car expected at around 09:00 as we head out of Stanhope.

Day 5, 17th July, Slaley to Leeds

The excellent Slaley Hall was the overnight halt going into day five of the 1000 Mile Trial; it was a much needed rest after the celebrations of the night previously. John Able and Martyn Taylor still lead, but the route and navigation now start to get trickier. A beautiful morning over the northern Pennines greeted the crews, after a short test at Slaley Hall a regularity section soon followed. Starting just outside of Rookhope, this was to be a stunning section as the road climbed the moor looking over Weardale affording the competitors some stunning views.

Taylor and Abel dropped two seconds over here, the first coming at the ford at Wesgate, the other being taken at Bob Rutherford’s control to the south of Eastgate. Crews commented on the beauty of this section, it wasn’t to be with without problems for some of the front runners as Alastair Caldwell/Catriona Rings reported they had charging problems in their Alfa Romeo 6C Superleggera. We have had another retirement due to mechanicals, George Howells and Monique Rombouts in  their Aston Martin have sadly left the event, happily we report the return of Urz and Nick Mezger, a simple earth strap that was tricky to find the reason for their earlier retirement. Richard Jeffcoate and James May were enjoying the route, commenting it was one of the best they had driven, a comment that was heard many times, even from local crews.

After Durham Dales, Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle was a coffee halt and time control, once again, many people turned out to see what has to be the finest selection of pre 1940 vehicles assembled in the country. Bowes is an amazing place, the artefacts and displays are superb, the highlight is the Swan Automaton which plays daily at 2p.m. It is a pure joy to see, she rides on a wave of silver with several small fish leaping out of her way. Fully refreshed, a test ensued at Cliffe Hall; this led on to a run over Osmotherley Moor, the regularity named Hambleton Hills. A breath taking view over the grouse moors and hills in the distance gave way to tight, nadgery corners that were tricky to negotiate. Running down to the end of the regularity at Caydale Mill Ford took a steady hand, with steep drops to the side and little room for error.

Leaving Hambleton Hills behind, Byland Abbey regularity took place immediately after, it was here that the skill and knowledge of the Clerk of Course and his assistant started to really kick in. Crews had a taste of what is in store if you are not exacting, a hidden lay-by over a crest with a marshal stood at the far end claimed several victims, HERO Managing Director Tomas De Vargas Machuca partnered by Ryan Pickering included. Tomas managed to spot his error, but lost 18 seconds in re-negotiating the slot and fell further behind the ever consistent Sue Shoosmith and Trina Harley. Passing through Aldwark Manor Hotel for afternoon tea and a time control, the event’s last action of the day was held at the famous Harewood Hill Climb, the smiles on competitors faces and comments as they ended their first run were amazing, ironically, two Yorkshire lads made the same comment, we won’t name them for fear of divorce, but references were made to the most fun had being fully clothed!

Enthusiastic performances came from Alan and Tina Beardmore, an unfortunate mistake meaning a wrong test on the second run, the stop astride being switched from left to right of cones really did catch a few out. The test was red flagged during Alastair Caldwell/Catriona Ring’s attempt at the hill, an errant lamb had found its way onto Harewood, the test halted immediately and lamb was safely extracted by the safety car.

The battle for first place is hotting up, Caldwell & Rings are slipping slightly behind Abel and Taylor, it would only take a slip from the Bentley pair to hand the lead over to the Alfa crew, close on their heels but fading slightly are Charles Graves/Ron Palmer, fourth lie Shoosmith and Harley, now comfortably in front of De Vargas Machuca/Pickering in fifth. A little down the leader board there is a huge battle going on with five crews separated by over a minute, in a David vs Goliath style battle, two Austin Sevens are battling with a Jaguar SS100 and a Bentley Three Litre. Philip White/Ian Wallace are hanging on to tenth in their Seven, but they are being pushed by Duncan Wiltshire/Robert Crofton. In turn, the Bentley Boys are being harried by the SS100 of Stephen and Collette Owens who may use local knowledge tomorrow to steal a march, finally, another Austin Seven, this time crewed by Seren and Elise Whyte are in the hunt for a top ten finish.

There have been some high jinks being played amongst the crews, Angus Forsyth and Marcus Atkinson woke left Slaley Hall this morning unaware that a “Just Married” poster and several cans and tins had been tied to their car, within thirty seconds of starting the engine and pulling away, half of Slaley Hall were looking out of their windows as the cacophony of cans rattled its way across the paving stones!

The event is into its penultimate day tomorrow, we travel from Leeds to Silverstone and one thing is for sure, the fun, competition and excitement is far from over yet!

Day 6, 18th July, Leeds to Silverstone.

The penultimate day of the 2014 1000 Mile Trial left Leeds this morning and headed for the lanes north-west of Doncaster, a short motorway section brought competitors to a regularity named Stubbs. This was a straight forward affair, to ease the tiring crews into the day’s competition, it was going to be a day that could make or break  some of the competitors hearts. Prior to leaving Leeds, Angus Forsyth and Marcus Atkinson of event partners, Hagerty Insurance UK were awoken to find their Austin Seven covered in various plant pots, road cones and paraphernalia from around the grounds of Oulton Hall, the overnight venue. Team Austin Powers, as the group of Austin Seven drivers are known are constantly playing jokes on one another, it does seem that Marcus and Angus do take most of the flak unfortunately, no doubt revenge will be sweet!

Stubbs wound its way around the villages of Elmsall and Hampole, a short section with nothing to trouble the competitors bar local traffic, of which there was little. Nipping onto the M18 before traffic could build, another short regularity south-east of Rotherham named Beacon Hill followed, this had a little more to it, a tricky not as map junction and some narrow lanes with a tight hairpin right slot at Laughton en le Morthen there to take time from crews, several cleaned this section, but it was just one of three regularities, the final reg of the day was a longer prospect at 14.8 miles, more of this later. Out of Beacon Hill, a run down through South Yorkshire and into Nottinghamshire, passing through Clumber, Sherwood and the legendary Edwinstowe, supposed village of Robin Hood, where the crews had to dodge a water cannon that was sporadically wetting the road! More mischief was the order of the day, as nick names were used for passage checks, one ‘leading’ Cumbrian navigator featuring on two boards with differing names! Other name checks came for Clerk of Course, Guy Woodcock’s daughter, Claire, Tomas De Vargas Machuca and Ben Cussons, with the imaginatively phrased nickname of ‘Soapy’!

Two tests followed a brief passage around Newark, held a short distance apart, it was these tests that would possibly decide the overall results. Caldwell and Rings have been trying their hardest to overcome a minute plus deficit, the tricky Jacob’s Ladder style test would see them slip and fall, handing another minutes grace to Abel/Taylor. Lunch was held in the magnificent surroundings of Belvoir Castle, the State Banquet Room the venue, passing through the treasures assembled over the years was an amazing prospect. Whole walls lined with muskets, bayonets affixed to repel invaders gave way to an amazing Renault from the early 1900’s and then on to one of the finest collections of Reuben’s paintings in this country.  A superb long and flowing test followed, ran by Richard Egger and his enthusiastic team of assistants, the test starting near the base of the climb up to Belvoir and travelling nearly two miles to finish outside Woolsthorpe Belvoir. Passing the famous pastry town of Melton Mowbray, the 1000 Mile Trial headed through the undulating and sweeping lanes of Lincolnshire briefly, before dropping in to Leicestershire and the final regularity of the day at Launde Abbey. Situated at the start of the regularity, the lanes here are narrow with arches formed by trees in places, the Robin-A-Tiptoe section catching many out with a slot that dropped away off the right hand side of the road. Another section, John O’ Gaunt utilised the natural contours and a nasty hairpin left to keep crews on their toes, many using Ordnance Survey maps for the first time, a lack of experience costing them time.

Afternoon tea at Foxton Locks was followed by a final run passing Hollowell and Ravensthorpe Reservoir before overnighting next door to Silverstone Grand Prix circuit at Whittlebury Hall. It does now seem that only mechanicals or a monstrous slip up can wrench the victory from John Abel and Martyn Taylor, we await results which will be posted as soon as we have them.

Day 7, 19th July, Silverstone to Woodcote Park

We come to the end of what has been an amazing seven days of competition, besides today, we have been blessed with fantastic weather, the storms last night over Silverstone simply breath taking as crews relaxed at Whittlebury Hall on their overnight halt. Sadly, we lost Philip White and Ian Wallace yesterday due to mechanicals, a fine performance from almost raw novices that saw them in the top five at times, no doubt they will return. This morning has started out wet, very wet to be exact, the first cars left Silverstone at 08:00 this morning and headed south over a regularity named Shelswell, this was a straight forward regularity with few slots, a gentle wake-up call to ease the now tiring crews into the swing of things. Two tests at the wonderful Bicester Heritage Centre followed, the maze of roads in the complex providing some real fun in the wet conditions, the second of the two tests held on Bicester Airfield, proved a real favourite with some sweeping straights and tight cones to slalom through.  A tricky test at Arncott followed, an ultra-tight slalom giving way to a blast along a road peppered with code boards to keep competitors on their toes, a very well received test indeed.

Coffee followed at The Packhorse at Milton Hill, before a short drive to the final section of regularities, the first being a nine mile section over the Berkshire Downs. Starting out just outside of West Ilsley the regularity dropped through the hamlets of Catmore, Brightwalton and Peasemore before its finish at Downend.  Silchester was the next action, the old Roman town lending its name to a 5.61 mile section including a ford close to Brickledon’s Farm, skirting Bramley, a technical crossroads at Fair Oak Green guided the 1000 Mile Trial to the end of regularity at Kings Farm close to Stratfield. Lunch was taken close by in Stratfield Turgis before the final regularity of the 1000 Mile Trial took place to the west of Farnham. The 10.76 miles of the Hampshire Lanes would lead the competitors back to Woodcote Park for the final test, a driving test once again on The Captains Drive, this time, the run would be downhill, ending with the finish in front of the spectacular home of the Royal Automobile Club, where John Abel and Martyn Taylor were named as winners of the 2014 1000 Mile Trial.

Martyn Taylor was the first to comment, “We’re very proud to win this event, seeing as it hasn’t been run in such a long time, massive thanks to the Royal Automobile Club, HERO/CRA and all the marshals for making the event”

Since leaving Woodcote Park seven days ago, we have negotiated some of the most stunning scenery the UK has to offer, the reception from the people along the route has been nothing short of amazing, echoing the original journey that took place in 1900. It has been heart-warming to see just how much these old vehicles mean to the public, and the affection and passion that keeps them going is immense. Thanks for reading and all your comments and input, we look forward to you joining us on next year’s 1000 Mile Trial. Full results will be posted as soon as we have them.

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