Saturday, June 19, 2010

Prescott Hillclimb

Maybe the highlight of the whole UK trip was the 'Standard Triumph Marque Day' at the Bugatti Club's Prescott Hillclimb. I figured that the best way to attend was either to stay in a town nearby and hire a car (and hide it around the corner), or find a Triumph with a spare seat and beg a ride. As it happened, Roy Lacey from Club Triumph invited me to ride along in his Mk1 GT6 on the customary GT6 convoy, or "Royvoy". Score! I met Roy and another GT6 owner, Tim (bestquality03) the night before for a BBQ. Tim's Mk3 is Mallard, a colour I was thinking of using, and I wanted to see what it looked like in the metal. Very nice, as it turns out.

Tim's Mallard GT6 Mk3

The Royvoy left Telford around 7am, collecting assorted GT6s as we headed south to Prescott. The weather was beautiful, roads almost empty and we were able to set a fast pace. Up until this point most of my trips in the UK had been by train, so my impression of England had been a country of back yards, vegetable gardens, allotments and jumble piles. Now I got to see the public faces of towns and villages. And England on a sunny, quiet Sunday morning was idyllic. Green fields, trees hanging over the roads, and rural roads winding between stone walls, all made for a great drive. Triumphs really were built for trips like that.

The Royvoy at a meeting point

Hugh Nicols and his graphic GT.

Roy got me to navigate to several rendezvous points. This was brave considering I had to figure out his GPS on the fly, work out road terminology (A & B roads for instance) and divine the intentions of town planners. Despite a few mis-directions, we managed to meet everyone, and then to find Prescott itself, nestled in rolling hills and accessed by a bewildering array of narrow rural roads.

Follow the leader

There must have been several hundred Triumphs at Prescott, and the queues while we were directed to a car park gave everyone a few worried moments as temperatures rose. We saw 95C at one point, and a nearby saloon registered its displeasure by boiling over. As my GT6 will have to cope with much higher temperatures, I made a note to think seriously about cooling!

Bruce's GT6 convertible

The format of the hillclimb itself was simple. After a briefing, we queued up for the first of two runs allocated to each car. Marshals send the cars up at about 30 second intervals. The runs weren't timed, as this was expressly not a competitive event. This didn't mean that most people didn't give it the beans, and for most of the day the hillside rang to the distinctive sounds of 4, 6 and 8 cylinder Triumphs. Later on, sitting under a tree, we marvelled at how different even the 6 cylinder Triumphs - GT6s, Vitesses, TRs and saloons - sounded from each other. A supercharged Stag had maybe the most distinctive engine note, a singing V8 with the whistle of a supercharger as it accelerated out of the hairpin.

A Stag V8 with EFI, supercharger, and a marvellous soundtrack.

Roy waiting for his second run up the hill, as seen from Tim's GT6.

I spent a lot of time wandering around, looking at trade stalls such as Rimmer Brothers and Maynard Engine Reconditoners, talking to a people I recognised from the Club Triumph and Sideways fora, and going for a brief demonstration ride with Gareth Thomas in a Spitfire whose engine he built for a customer. His engines stay together, I'll give him that.

Gareth Thomas

At the end of a truly memorable day, the Telford contingent of the Royvoy headed north again. We stopped for a quick pint at a pub we'd spotted on the way down, managed to lose Hugh on the way, and Roy showed me around Coalbrookdale (very geological) before dropping me off at my hotel.

All that's a long-winded account of a great day in the life, and yet feels like a quick skim of the highlights. The English Triumph enthusiasts are very lucky, to have each other to lend a hand and advice, lots of great events like Prescott to attend, and some great roads to drive on a Sunday morning. Thanks especially to Roy and Jules for making me feel welcome, a yummy BBQ and a trip to remember.

A proper racing interior - John Davies' Vitesse

A pretty TR3A

A pre-war Dolomite

Jigsaw racing's ADU 1B, a recreated works Spitfire.


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