2016 Carl O’Grady and Ellie Williams [Nissan Sunny]
Oxford Motor Club would like to thank every single person that contributed to make the 2016 Lotusbits Carfax Stage Rally such a success.
Setting out all the cones started on Thursday (and was completed on Friday). The Club transported 540 of its own stock to Throckmorton to add to the many, many more that are already on the venue. By Friday afternoon, with the exception of one area still in use by Drift Elite (the venue’s resident drifting business) the stages were as ready as possible.
From 6am on Saturday morning, as the many marshals were signed on, the hard working Oxford Motor Club crews set up this area and moved barriers from there to elsewhere on the venue. At 8.15am, the Stewards took their tour round and declared the stage ready to receive competitors.
70 crews made it to start the rally and their driving standards on the day were excellent. As requested at the Drivers’ briefing, the course markers were respected (absolutely essential when the courses are almost totally defined by cones and barriers) and the chosen routes swiftly cleaned up and an intensely competitive day began.
The day’s weather was fine and grew hotter and hotter and hotter. The marshals, particularly those that were positioned on the vast concrete expanses grew redder by the stage (!) and the Club owes every single one of them a huge vote of thanks for staying on post and replacing the odd scattered cone throughout the day. The course changes were swiftly made with the assistance of the marshals and all ten stages ran within a couple of minutes of the ambitious time schedule, finishing just before our curfew of 17.30hrs.
This had to have been the most competitive Carfax Stage Rally of all the 31 runnings of this event. Going into the last stage, Carl O’Grady / Ellie Williams (Nissan Sunny F2) and Tom Barber / Anthony Jones (BMW Compact) were tied on Time and Mark Gamble / Steve Link (Suzuki Swift S1600) were only six seconds behind. The final 6 miles were to split the potential tie and O’Grady / Williams were the stage winners taking a maiden Overall Win by 5 seconds from Barber / Jones. Gamble / Link were a further one second behind the Suzuki on SS10 so the top three were covered by only 12 seconds – Phew!
All through the day, results for each stage had been on the notice board within 10 minutes of the last car finishing. After Stage 10, these were posted Provisional at 17.41 and with no queries on the tables, the Awards Presentation started at 18.11.
Of the 70 starters, 55 crews finished the Lotusbits Carfax Stage Rally – a very impressive finishers’ rate. All through the day and at the Presentation, the marshals, organisation and stages were praised and Oxford Motor Club thanks everyone for such kind comments and passes them on to the whole team.
MSA Scrutineers had to continue their checks throughout the day as every stage found crews with issues with these important safety items – tethers not clipped to helmets, HANS over the belts and belts not properly seated into the FHR yokes. They had the Clerk of the Course’s backing to continue to make the checks until full compliance was found – which it never was. We will be passing our findings back to the MSA for consideration and apologise from any stress caused as people felt that time was dripping away as they tried to start on time. This led to no penalties being issued.
The clear down crews were off the venue by 8pm and the cones, arrows, fire extinguishers, stakes, generators were all safely tucked away in the Club store back in Oxford by 9.45pm.
Once again, many thanks to all – Marshals, Emergency and Recovery Crews, Scrutineers, Environmental Scrutineers, Set Up and Course Change Crews, Results Team, Organising Team, Mike and Cathy at Lotusbits, Competitors, Service Crews, QinetiQ Pershore Staff for their contributions to a pretty well perfect day. We look forward to enjoying our rallying with you again in the future and at next year’s Oxford Motor Club Carfax Stage Rally.
Simon Marks. Clerk of the Course
2015 Dave Willett [Ford Escort MK2]
I would like to thank absolutely everyone that was involved in this year’s Lotusbits Carfax Stage Rally for their help in making the 2015, 30th running of the event an absolute stunner – one of our best.
Nineteen club members and friends took Friday off work to set up the stages on the airfield. About 900 cones, plus signage and old tyres were arranged to set out the stages and, other than a small area that was in use by Drift Elite – a drifting school that uses the airfield every week, we all left at teatime with everything set up.
After last year’s hurricane, the weather forecasters had the predictions absolutely right this year and we all gathered with the sun rising over the old V bomber airfield. The set up crews finished off where the drift school had been and sound testers, scrutineers and signing-on team worked hard to get through the field of 72. The first car went into SS1 at 9.15hrs, as planned. Apologies that the start times never made it onto the SS1 time cards – a note has been added for the debrief meeting for next time.
Though an unusually large number of cars took a wrong direction at the split on the first stage, things quickly settled down and whilst many marshals had a lot of running about to do recovering and repositioning clipped cones at some junctions, we really did have a trouble free day with no serious incidents requiring a stage stoppage and most of the retirements either took place in service or with cars that were able to self-recover from the stages so the few recoveries that were left were easily accomplished during the stage change times between the pairs of stages.
Thank you to all competitors for their respect for the course markers. As an organiser, one of the biggest fears is all the stage markers being scattered and destroyed by passing cars and for this not to have taken place, Oxford Motor Club is very grateful. The stage change crews managed to effect their changes in a timely fashion and all ten planned stages ran – giving a total stage distance of some 66 miles.
On such a hot day, and with the (primarily) concrete surface offering a lot of grip, gearboxes and transmissions were the primary reasons cited for most of the 31 retirements during the day. Head gaskets als suffered – a couple most spectacularly during the stages with the cars leaving vapour trails and the Havens’ historic Ford Escort RS2000 totally disappearing in its own oily smoke cloud on the finish line!
The last car finished SS10 an 17.27 and provisional results were posted on the notice board at 17.31hrs. The awards were duly presented half an hour later.
David Willet and John Davies took the win with their well driven Ford Escort Mk2. Second overall were Carl O’Grady and Ian Davies in the Nissan Sunny F2, despite struggling with poor steering lock on a couple of the tight hairpins on the course. In third place was another Escort Mk2 – this one crewed by Robert and Nicola Davies. It looked as if you needed at least one Davies in the car to get a podium yesterday!
The hard working Oxford Motor Club team had the venue cleared downby 19.30hrs and with everything strapped down, the convoy of cars, trailers and caravan headed for home (or unloading at the club store) at 20.00hrs.
On behalf of Oxford Motor Club, I would like to pass on a huge THANK YOU to all the organising team, to the marshals (whose appearance all moved up three or four shades of red on the colour chart under the relentless sunshine), to the radio crews, Paramedic, Rescue and Recovery Crews, to our ever-enthusiastic sponsor, Lotusbits and, finally, to the landowner and their Site Manager for continuing to let us use this excellent venue.
Simon Marks. Clerk of the Course
Class Award Winners
1st Car 48 Paul Davis and Keith Richings Vauxhall Corsa
2nd 33 Adam Fuge and Sam Brown MG ZR
3rd 29 Barri Wilmot and Clare Bird Vauxhall Nova
1st Car 17 John Lewis and Chris Williams Darrian T90
2nd 44 Richard Hill and Matthew Hill Ford Fiesta R2
3rd 16 Barry Grant and Helen Grant Peugeot 106GTi
1st Car 1 Carl O’Grady and Ian Davies Nissan Sunny F2
2nd 25 Barry Warman and Neil Chant Ford Escort
3rd 9 Dave Allmark and Ryan Jones Ford Escort Mk2
1st Car 5 Rob Davies and Nicola Davies Ford Escort Mk2
2nd 20 Chris Selfe and Paul Lowman BMW M3 Compact
3rd 7 Paul Sutcliffe and Hannah Sutcliffe BMW M3
1st Car 15 Wynne Watkins and Emma Todd Subaru Impreza
2nd 26 Ian Mundell and Dale Gordon Subaru Impreza
3rd 13 Paul Kirtley and David Jones Subaru Impreza WRC
Mark Donaldson Trophy
Car 52 Rod Haven and Kevin Haven
Spirit of the Rally
Car 27 Barney Lower and Samm Keeley
Some of the positive comments we have received:
Congratulations to all, it was a great club effort.
Thanks to all at Oxford Motor Club, for a top event, our first time at the venue and it won’t be our last.
Thanks to all at Oxford MC for a great day, it was a well run event and I enjoyed the stage layout, also thanks to all the marshals who braved the heat all day [not often you get to say that]
Thank you to all the organisers and marshals for a great day at the Carfax.
The work you have done at the venue was definitely worth it as it was soooo much smoother than last year. Top marks for a having a ladies only loo!
I’ll be back next year, great event, great people, club and venue.
Well, what can I say, an absolutely fantastic day, big thanks to Oxford Motor Club, all the marshals etc etc for putting on such a splendid event.. really enjoyed it, great fun all round.
I would just like to say a massive thank you to all at Oxford motor Club for what was probably one of the best single venue rallies I’ve done. Brilliantly organized, marshalled etc. the stages were fantastic, fast flowing with a great variety.
I was really impressed by the way Simon had planned the stages, then arranged stage and equipment change rounds, and with all the marshals and officials organization, it all seemed to run slickly. Great event, thoroughly enjoyed the day, helped by good weather.
Would just like to say that I have been competing on events over the last 10 years as a co-driver, this was my first time competing on this event, and it was by far the best!!!
Stages were superb, well arrowed, well organized, and not too much time in between stages, and results were up asap!
Great value for money. Everybody from Oxford Motor Club, the marshals and other competitors were extremely helpful and friendly
Will definitely be doing this event next year and will drag a few of my friends to compete on this event as well. 10 out of 10!!
Just wanted to say a big thank you to you and all the organisers for a great event, and for all the help you have been with the arrangements. A lot of clubs can learn from your example!!
Many, many thanks for running a brilliant rally. Thoroughly enjoyed it and the variation of the stages flowed well and were challenging…which was great.
Thank you all for a brilliant day’s rallying and appreciate all the hard work that goes into organising the event.
Many thanks to you and the team as it was a really good event yesterday – we both had a great day and the weather was so much better than last year!
Many thanks to Oxford MC for a very well run event and thanks to all the marshals for the help they provided.
Marshals Briefing Video – http://youtu.be/awh44ED0C0w
2014 Mark Jasper [Ford Escort MK2]
A very wet rally saw Mark Jasper and Don Wyatt win the LotusBits sponsored event at Throckmorton. This new venue proved to be very demanding on the cars.
Final results are here – Carfax 2014_final_results
Class results are here – Carfax 2014_class_results
2012 Paul King [Ford Escort R8]
The second running of the event at Benson Aerodrome, the entry was increased to 85. The event had a very low ‘attrition rate’, some minor delays plus the enforced time gap between the end of the main rally contenders and the juniors, culminated in the the cancellation of stage 8. The last stage, 7 was run in the dark, seemed to go down well with the competitors.
Congratulations to Paul King and Alicia Miles for their first overall win. Other notable drives were James Hunt and Rich Knowlton who scored 6th overall in their 1400 Corsa. Also well done to the Juniors, promoting motor sport for the young, future proofs the sport.
2011 Simon Mauger [Ford Escort Mk2]
The first use of Benson Airfield. The aerodrome hosts some of the RAF’s rotary wing squadrons plus Cadet training flight and the BOB air ambulance.
Apart from the delays in getting into the venue, due to security checks the 8 stages were without incident, helped by the mild weather.
The event was sponsored by BGM Sport and Mark Donaldson. The event raised money for the Berks Oxon Bucks Air Ambulance and the Royal Air Forces Association.
2010 No venue available
After the loss of Longcross, the Carfax Management had almost secured a venue at Stone Leigh Show ground, The landowners got cold feet over the noise issues.
2009 Simon Gudgeon [MG Metro 6R4]
The last event to be held at Longcross. The film studio that bought the land from QinetiQ did not want to host Motor Sport in the future.
2008 Richard Edwards [Ford Escort Mk2]
This Carfax was hoped to be a renewed continuation at Longcross venue after a year of doubt. The event did not suffer from the enforced break.
2007 No venue available
The Club celebrated its Centenary allbeit 4 years too late. We had hoped to run the Carfax but QinetiQ were in the process of re-organising and Longcross’s future was in the balance
2006 John Indri [ MG Metro 6R4]
We had a full entry of 67 cars start this year’s event. The quality of the field was very high with numerous WRC cars and 3 MG Metro 6R4.
John Indri and David Engwell used his Metro 6R4 to great effect in what turned out to be the wettest Longcross ever! Torrential rain and deep standing water coupled with leaves gave everyone some very slippery stages to compete on. The first 3 stages went by without to many incidents, the crews deciding to be very cautious, with the odd spin and overshoot. However on stage 4 Marcus Dodd planted his Accent WRC into the tree’s on the test hills after going up the 1 in 10 slope and jumping the retaining wall at the top. The stage was stopped and thankfully the crew were OK. The stage was restarted but another accident further around the course led to the stage being cancelled.
The last 6 stages of the day ran without to many incidents with the last 2 in the dark. Simon Gudgeon and Mark Tiana in his Metro 6R4 kept the leaders honest by trading fastest times throughout the day only to loose out by 5 seconds at the finish and have a Metro 1-2.
Other notable performances came from Simon Mauger in his Escort and the entertaining Ian Godney in his BMW M3 who spent most of the day sideways! Good performances from Warren Till and Ian Brookes saw them take class A and B honours.
The best Oxford Motor Club Award went to the event sponsor Elliot Dunmore [EDM Motorsport] and Susanna Kenniston in their Subaru Impreza with a good drive to 8th overall.
The most notable performance for the day however, went to all the Marshal’s and recovery crews who were kept busy all day and just carried on despite the horrible weather.
2005 Simon Gudgeon [MG Metro 6R4]
2005 saw new names engraved on the Carfax Trophy. Simon Gudgeon and Mark Tiana used an MG Metro 6R4 to great effect, pulling out a handsome lead on the first two stages when the Surrey tarmac was treacherous with frost and the remnants of the previous week’s rain. After that, they eased away from the chasing pack to win by almost two minutes. Leading the chasers were Rob and Paula Alderman who pedalled their Vauxhall powered Ford Escort Mk II in fine and determined style, seeing off many more four-wheel drive cars to boot.
Eliot Dunmore of EDM Motorsport sponsored the rally and was on course for the best Oxford Motor Club award (with wife Claire alongside in their Subaru Impreza) before mechanical gremlins intervened. Regular Carfax competitor Noel Neely had an early finish after piling his familiar Peugeot 309 16-Valve into one of the facility’s stout buildings. He and co-driver Evangelia Papadatou were checked over in hospital and, thankfully, released with little more than cuts and bruises. Once again, we were reminded of the efficiency and professionalism of the Safety crews that look after the Carfax and other events.
2005 had seen a downturn of entries on rallies and championships generally and the EDM Carfax Stages only started 55 cars. This notwithstanding, it was a most successful day that received almost unanimous praise from competitors and the “early finish record” now moves on to 18.30hrs!
2004 Tim Ball [Darrian T90]
Tim Ball completed his hat-trick of wins on the Carfax Stage Rally (the first time this feat has been accomplished since Charles Eveson dominated in 1982-85). Of course, Tim needed the services of two co-drivers this time due to the onset of car-sickness rendering Jo Simmons unable to continue. The yellow Darrian still managed to be quickest on all ten stages this time, keeping clear of the chasing pack led by Dave & Matthew Wilkes and John Reddington / Brian Rudden.
The Trophy Rally was a new departure for us. Charlie Jackson / Ben Smith fared the best of the three crews opting to come back out to play once more. In fact, this was a family affair with Graham Jackson and Matthew Clark completing the finishers’ list.
Overall, our day (and in fact the whole weekend) went pretty well according to plan. This was partly due to the mild, dry day (with no twilight dew) and thanks to all the skilled driving that left chicanes in tact all day and no accidents to hold things up – unlike last year. The awards presented by 6pm and our being cleared up and off the venue by 7pm is a record for us.
2003 Tim Ball [Darrian T90]
A dry day saw sixty-five crews make the start of this years Carfax Stage Rally at Longcross. The snake was pretty clear of leaves and a few icy patches at the bottom of the test hill were the only hazards. Stage 1 started on time but had to be stopped due to an accident involving car 15 Andy Dawe and Becki Spokes. The rescue crews attended the scene and consequently we had to cancel the stage. Both crew were transferred to the local Hospital as a precaution. The second stage started about 15 minutes late and Tim Ball and Jo Simmons got of to a flyer in their Darrian by setting fastest stage time with Kevin King and Andrew McEwen 8 seconds behind in their MG Metro 6R4. This theme took a familiar pattern for the rest of the event with Tim Ball setting the fastest stage times on all but stage 10 which ran in the dark, the honour went to John Reddington and Ann Daly in the Mk 2 Ford Escort.
The next 8 stages ran without incident, and then came the final stage when Trevor Martin and Dave Henderson went of in the snake on the last stage. Unfortunately they hit a drainage culvert and badly damaging the car, requiring the assistance of the rescue crews. Both crew had to checked out at the hospital and the last 25 cars could not finish the event. Notional times were awarded for this one.
At the end however the result was not in doubt and Ball and Simmons won the Carfax stage Rally for the second year in row beating King and McEwen by 1 minute and 16 seconds with Reddington and Daly taking third.
Best Oxford Motor Club crew this year went to Elliot Dunmore and Claire Scott in their Vauxhall Astra with a great drive to 5th overall.
Overall it was a busy event and relief that the crews involved with both crashes are OK albeit a little sore.
2002 Tim Ball [Darrian T90]
Heavy rain greeted the crews for this year’s event. Sixty-four crews started the rally at Longcross and with a combination of standing water and leaves everywhere it would throw up some difficult conditions and few surprises. However Tim Ball and Jo Simmons got to grips with conditions straight away in their Darrian T90 and immediately went ahead by 13 seconds after two stages over nearest rivals Dave and Daniel Jacobs in their Escort Cosworth. After the fourth stage Ball and Jacobs were equal on time as the rain stopped and the sun came out. The drying conditions suited the Darrian crew and they won the next four stages posting times on average 10 seconds quicker than Dave Jacobs who followed closely ready to pick up the pieces. Stage four also saw half of all the retirements and by the end fifty-one crews passed the finish line. The last two stages were run in the dark and by the end Tim Ball took the overall honours and won the event by 56 seconds from Dave Jacobs. Other notable drives were Ian Brooks and Tom Solomon in their Peugeot 106 Gti winning class B and posting top ten stage times throughout the day and coming 6th overall. Best Oxford Motor Club crew again this year went to Simon Pinnegar and Elliot Dunmore in their Opel Ascona.
2001 John Eaton[Ford Fiesta Turbo]
Early frost soon cleared but Longcross in early December was its usual slippery self in the morning. Guy Wigley and Bruce Coate-Bond used the ex-Gwyndaf Evans Ford Escort RS2000 (Mk5) to good use being 24 seconds ahead after stage 4. However, drying conditions in the afternoon gave John Eaton and John McKerrell the chance to put the power of their rwd Ford Fiesta Turbo down and they steadily overhauled the erstwhile leaders to seal a two second victory at the end of the 10th stage. This was the closest finish on the Carfax Stage Rally to date, and the third place pairing of John Reddington and Brian Rudden were only another 14 seconds behind (after they were fastest over the last two – dark – stages in their MkII Ford Escort). Carfax favourites Trevor Martin and Dave Henderson were second overall after the first slippery stage in their Peugeot 106 GTi, but drying conditions (and Trevor’s spirited driving!) put too much strain on the little car’s brakes and they fell back to a still-creditable class winning seventh overall by the end. Best Oxford Motor Club crew on this occasion was Simon Pinnegar and Eliot Dunmore in an unlikely Opel Ascona, powered by a sonorous Calibra V6 motor.
2000 Peter Lloyd [MG Metro 6R4]
The 2000 Sportspares Carfax Stage Rally saw the entry filled in only eleven days. One person missing out was last year’s winner Jon Tainton who could not believe how quick we filled up. Peter Lloyd was back again and dominated proceedings against strong opposition, Tim Wilson leading the chase with an ex-Malcolm Wilson Motorsport Ford Escort WRC. A complete rewriting of the regs. was necessary due to changing MSA rules, and one major change was that once someone had missed a control, they were out for good. Previously, it had been possible to “cut” one or two stages and still qualify as a finisher. This meant that we only had 35 finishers from the 60 starters – down about a dozen on the usual number. Third overall was Sportspares Carfax regular Royston Carey in a Renault Clio 16valve [despite a sizeable backwards off that demolished the back of the French hatchback]. Another regular Haydn Morgan took fourth in his 180bhp 1600cc Vauxhall Corsa ahead of the “Best Oxford Motor Club Crew” award winners, Pete and Jo Johnson in their Vauxhall Astra that normally sees service on closed roads events in Ireland. Trevor Martin had starred yet again. This time in a Challenge spec. Peugeot 106 GTi, he ran as high as third overall before a punctured tyre shredded and cut through the wiring loom – game over! This was the first time that we had used road timing and, after a shaky start on the first stage, this all dropped nicely into place. We also introduced automatic “traffic lights” and jump start beams to the stage starts to a National B single venue rally for the first time in the area. A good step forward. The full results table for the 2000 Sportspares Carfax Stage Rally is reproduced elsewhere in this magazine.
1999 Jon Tainton [Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V]
Jon Tainton took his Group N car to a one-minute victory over Trevor Martin. Eliot Dunmore and Simon Pinegar took home the “Best Oxford Motor Club Crew” award in the Opel Manta in 11th place overall. This time, the regs went out in mid-October and we had a full entry by 3rd November. Another slippery day, this time due to an immense amount of decaying leaves around the place. Longcross Test Track is not used as much by DERA [the site is due for disposal fairly soon] so does not receive the amount of attendance – such as frequent mechanical sweeping – that it previously enjoyed. As a result it is getting slimier, and the late autumn temperatures promote heavy dews that add to the problems. A patch of leaves at the bottom of the test hills claimed Mark Welch and Phil Daniels [who were leading in their Ford Escort Cosworth at the time]. They slammed into the concrete wall and were both hospitalised – the first time we had to carry out such a rescue since 1982. Thankfully, injuries were slight. As night fell, the dew caught out several crews in the snake road. Three of them parked side by side in the gravel after stage 10 and were joined by the course car! After running the last stage, Trevor Martin was taking a journalist round as a PR exercise. Even he went off at the same place – actually going further in to the woods – I was following as course closer and could just see the tail lights in amongst the rhododendrons! This was the fifth year of Sportspares sponsorship, and Edwin Dunmore joined the Organising Committee big-time by becoming Entries Secretary.
1998 Trevor Martin [Ford Escort RS Mark II]
This was the fourth year of Sportspares sponsorship and is most memorable as the year of the ice! I have never seen Longcross like this before or since. A hard frost meant everywhere was covered in a sheet of ice that stayed all day. We had, of course, decided to mark the apexes of the chicanes with water filled drums. As soon as they were hit hard enough to split them, the apexes ended up marked with local ice patches! A bit of time was lost dragging a couple of cars out of dodgy places in the gravel after this fax pas! Trevor Martin amazed every one by winning in a two wheel driven car – in reality, he drove extremely well, and hard, all day in a car in which he had confidence and thoroughly deserved the result. Peter Lloyd had led but mechanical problems intervened, and other much-fancied runners were [quite simply] overwhelmed by the conditions.
1997 Peter Lloyd [MG Metro 6R4]
This time, the roads were slimy all day [on the third Sportspares Carfax Stages] and anyone who was there was treated to a 6R4 demonstration as Peter Lloyd threw his blue car round the place in fine style. This was no cruise in a superior car, it was a guy enjoying the chance to take it by the scruff of the neck and push it to its limits on a greasy surface [where four wheel drive was most definitely the answer]. Dave Jacobs pegged the winners’ advantage back to just over a minute in another MG Metro 6R4. Our results summary saw me apologising for the queues at signing-on and suggesting that “crews could be more efficient in ensuring that all their licences, cards and other paperwork are all in order before arriving at signing-on”. We’ve got the queues down by chasing full details before the event – a policy not always well received by all competitors!
1996 Peter Lloyd [MG Metro 6R4]
The Welsh motor sport shop owner’s first visit to the Sportspares Carfax Stages led to the Trophy going “abroad” for the first time! They were four minutes ahead of second place Lee Williams and Chris Diani [in a Ford Escort RS]. This time, the entry was full before the closing date and all ten stages ran and the rally finished at 4.35pm – our slickest event to date]. David Rogers and Simon Hills won the “Best Oxford Motor Club Crew” award with their Volkswagen Golf GTi MkII.
1995 Mark Slater [MG Metro 6R4]
The first year of Sportspares sponsorship. Edwin Dunmore agreed to underwrite the postage costs, even if the event were to be cancelled due to a lack of entries. Having missed a year [and with various events cancelling at that time due to insufficient entries], we also had to move our date to early December due to the London International Rally running at Longcross in late October so we were a little nervous! Any worries were eventually dispersed with a full entry and the night-time running [that was a result of running four weeks later than usual] was universally well-received and is now a popular aspect of the Carfax Stages. The entry filled, but only after a load of wheeling and dealing, and bending over backwards to accommodate competitors and accepting late entries. This led to loads of administrative problems on the day [and afterwards chasing owed money] that we vowed never to go through again!
1994 No Rally
A fatal accident on a classic car run led to motor sport at Longcross being suspended until an investigation had taken place.
1993 John Eaton [RWD Ford Escort Mark IV]
John had started stage rallying with a Mark II Escort bought from Oxford Motor Club member, Jason Sherwood. He progressed to a quicker engine then bought a black, rear wheel drive Mark IV which he used to particularly good effect on our rally that year. In this era, we had a five seconds per mile four-wheel drive handicap [a fashion of that time, left over from Enstone days when club motor sport was scared by the 6R4s that were becoming more prevalent in the late 1980s. We ended up, as a result, with a “club” mixture of Escorts, Sunbeams etc.
1992 Tony Rees [Ford Sierra RS Cosworth]
Noise complaints had already started and we ran a voluntary lower noise limit. It was no problem for the winning Ford Sierra Cosworth – the turbo doing a very effective job of silencing the engine. In third place came a memorable car – a BMW 5 series running a 24 valve Motorsport engine. It looked surprisingly standard and made a glorious noise on its way to a podium placing. For the first time, we ran our stage routes through the “Rainmaker” and were congratulated by Tony Rees in his trophy acceptance speech for finding more roads on the venue [which was, by then, in use by more local clubs].
1991 Robin Rees[Ford Sierra RS Cosworth]
Our first event at LongcrossOnly the second club to get in to this cracking venue near Chertsey, Surrey. Our stage layouts provided eight-mile stages, due to my making a mistake and using one piece of track three times each stage! Luckily the RACMSA let me away with it [but I was told that was a “once only offer!]. We established a quality event and continued to run in early November. Robin and Tony Rees were garage owners from Twickenham and their three door Sierra was a mixture of Escort and Sierra bits that was both light and [as a result of being well-driven] effective.
1990 – No rally
No rally because the landowner [the manager of the Gliding Club] died in one of his aircraft shortly before our event so Enstone Airfield was therefore unavailable for us to use, and we had insufficient time to source an alternative.
1989 Derek Tyndall
Another win for Austin Rover’s Group B supercar, this time with a Rover pushrod V8 in the back. A notable result was put in by Malcolm Anderson, from High Wycombe, who took a Hillman Imp Coupe to fourth place overall – a quick and nimble car with good traction and a very capable driver.
1988 Robin Herd
We were back at Enstone, but this event saw us lose two of the eight stages when a chicane into the flying finishes was demolished by “over-enthusiastic” competitors, rendering the stop unsafe for those in the rally cars and those in the toilets [the first substantial obstruction thereafter]. Two stages were lost because in those days, you ran the stages concurrently, rather than successively. We had sponsorship from Hartford Motors who had a Ford RS200 there as a show car. Once some petrol had been poured in, Charles Eveson [Hartford Motors’ Manager] got it started ands I enjoyed a stage co-driving him round as a course car in Ford’s Group B turbo 4WD supercar. Martin Prew was leading the battle of the 6R4s until mechanical problems intervened and Robin Herd [one of the founders of the March racing car company, and more recently owner of Oxford United] was close enough to pick up the pieces.
1987 Martin Prew
In 1987, we were local, having been able to secure a date at Enstone Airfield [thanks to Witney Motor Club’s having found an opening with the Gliding Club there]. Avoiding the gliding season meant a date change – we ran in early November. The long time supporter of Oxford Motor Club, Mike Dunmore sponsored the event through his Mota-vation business. Martin Prew won the rally with his MG Metro 6R4 that he used to share with his brother, Trevor. Trevor used to favour BTRDA type forest events, and Martin preferred to stick with club rallies closer to home. With Enstone being a more broken surface than we had ever used before, four wheel drive became a real advantage and, with 6R4s having been sold off at the start of the year at real knockdown prices [Group B having been cancelled in international circles] there were a few appearing in club events.
1986 Roy Gillingham
Early in 1986, Bruntingthorpe Airfield, near Lutterworth, became available. A new landowner let various clubs onto this vast ex USAAF V-bomber site [complete with 2 mile long runway]. Unfortunately, too many events ran there [we were one of at least 10 rallies that year] and the local population got together to stamp out motor sport use. Another once only Carfax venue! The airfield was seriously huge – we managed to run a 10-mile stage [without lapping] and a three-miler simultaneously. We were still running in mid June, and this June day was very hot indeed – David Smith still remembers the sunburn to this day! The high temperatures and long straights saw off loads and loads of engines – the recovery crews got nearly as many miles as the rally cars and I remember pulling in one car almost every time I went out to do course changes! There were a couple of problems with results – caused when the barman pulled out the computer plug every now and then to put the lager cooler on! Roy Gillingham’s Triumph TR7 V8 came out on top – the red, white and blue wedge being long geared and as a result, lower revving than most of the opposition. A higher top speed didn’t do any harm, either! For course cars, we had Alastair Sutherland’s MG Metro 6R4 [that won the Mintex Championship that year] and an ex-works Lotus Sunbeam belonging to the Rally School that was based on-site.
1985 Charles Eveson
We actually got to use a venue twice in a row!Charles was again the class of the field in his Ford Escort RS. This time, we were beset with a few niggling problems – such as service crews trying to cross a live runway to watch the cars on the stage, and noise complaints from adjoining properties. All in all, the Air Traffic Controller had too stressful a day and we were offered a much smaller corner of the airfield for future events. This was so small that it was obvious that we were going to be on the move for 1986. An interesting diversion [as with the event the year before] was having to stop the rally to allow a Folland Gnat [a jet aircraft once flown by the Red Arrows] to take off and land. If it all went horribly wrong for the pilot, we were assured he was going to need every inch of the runway – including the last 8 metres that we were using – to try and pull the aircraft to a halt!
1984 Charles Eveson
I had spotted a small note in one of the classic car magazines offering a venue suitable for hosting classic car events. I phoned up, and it turned out to be Cranfield Airfield, just the other side of Milton Keynes. A few of us went across and found that we could get enough of this [still active] airfield to run a stage, so off we went again. The area available to us did not offer a complete loop, so we ran the cars out to a holding area, then ran them over the same roads in reverse for the next stage. This led to us deciding to do the different coloured arrows for each direction that we still employ to this day. Regular protagonists Charles Eveson and Roy Gillingham were joined at the head of the field by Bill Gwynne who was using one of the ugly, but effective, Nissan 240 RSs. A shower at the end of the day led to the cancellation of the last stage, as a perfectly safe stopping distance [in the dry] turned into a woefully inadequate one very quickly indeed. The sight of rally cars spinning towards parked aircraft soon brings you down to earth with a jolt!
1983 Charles Eveson
Another year, another new [airfield] venue – thistime Barford St John, near Banbury. Charles Eveson won again, this time heading off Roy Gillingham’s ex-works Triumph TR7V8. Jon Griffin was again up at the sharp end – this time he had hired a club spec 2300cc [single cam] Vauxhall Chevette from Bill Gwynne [after the TR7 V8 that he had built up was destroyed in a road accident shortly before the rally]. Despite running on second-hand M&S tyres [to save money] Jon came in an excellent third – Bill Gwynne was heard to remark that it was nice to see his hire car being driven properly for once! Most of you will know Barford as the airfield with all the radio masts on it. When, on another event, a competing car spun off and damaged one of the aerials, it dawned on the USAAF [that used the listening station] that there could be a threat to national security, so we all got our marching orders!
1982 Charles Eveson
This time, we had decamped to Turweston Airfield[now home to Bill Gwynne’s Rally School]. Charles Eveson had fitted a BDA engine into his Ford Escort [a works Mark One, “LVX 945J” reshelled into a high spec Mark Two] and improved his position from fourth [as I recall] in 1991 to first. We were sponsored by the Brackley Skoda dealer, and, when their car failed on stage 1, I was called upon to act as course car in my BMW 2002. What a hoot – the best bit being one stage finish that was run on an airfield runway from which the natural “arisings” from the chicken sheds had been cleared the previous day. A thin film of chicken droppings [left by the loader] was exceptionally slippery and I executed a 360 degree spin in the slowing down area. Better was to come during the running of the stage when three cars finished at the same time, the one in the middle pulled up nice and straight, whilst those on either side spun in perfect time! Later that year, another Club was tardy in sorting out some of the [inevitable] fencing damage that occurred here, so club rallies were soon “Persona Non Grata”.
1981 Martin Prew
Our first special stage rally, held at Finmere Airfield in June. Martin Prew’s Ford Escort RS 1800 was the famous “43 FOR” originally campaigned by Paul Faulkner. Second was our own Jon Griffin [driving Bill Hitchcock’s Vauxhall Magnum]. Jon’s achievement was even more poignant in that it was his first stage rally and the Magnum was Group N, compared with Martin’s Group 4 Escort – rather like Group N against World Rally Car today. We were the first to use this venue, but it was problematical due to multi-ownership so we looked elsewhere for the following season, having quickly learned the organising ropes and got some confidence. We were sponsored by ETCO Tools – a company that was sponsoring then club member Andy Tippett who was co-driving on the BTRDA Rally Championship for Dave Cox from Gloucester.