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Classical Gas is an independent web site and is not affiliated to any of the clubs or organisers of the events featured. Words and Pictures by Michael unless attributed otherwise. Michael is a proud member of the MCC, ACTC, Dellow Register and Falcon amongst others, but does not represent their views nor the views of any other organisers or clubs.

Michael's 2002 Musings

Michael's (December) Musings

I have heard that the Isle of Man event planned for next year has had to be called off as Jonathan Toulmin wasn’t confident enough of getting all the necessary land owner’s permissions.

I understand that all is going well with Falcon's March Hare for next year. The Devil’s Pit experiment won’t be repeated and the start is being moved to Redbourne in order to be nearer two new sections. One is likely to be Hill Farm which some of you may remember from Falcon’s Anniversary run. There is also another section on a county road nearby so the balance will be around 50% "natural" tracks and 50% "PCT" venues.

This is going to be a great event. Pencil in Sunday 9th March in your diaries.

Michael's (November) Musings

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Michael enjoying his Edinburgh on Haggside in this picture taken by Derek Hibbert

It's been a busy few weeks. I enjoyed the Edinburgh, which has always been my favourite event, even if it was a bit rough for some, if you go to Derbyshire you get rocks! All we need to do now is to get the MCC to reinstate the night run. In deference to those of you who use the Rough Guide as your bible I have re-classified The Edinburgh as "rough" so you don't blame me if you rip the bottom out of your pride and joy!

Falcon's two Brickhill trials went well. Isn't Barrie Parker a fantastic driver, he really is in a class of his own when it comes to PCT’s. I thought the BTRDA lot might get a bit snooty if I took pictures while I was marshalling so I decided to take a day off and not write a report!

It was interesting to watch the way the Land Rover club ran their trial which was taking place at the same time. They all arrived at each section at the same time and walked the course together then just ran through one after each other. There appeared to be only one team of marshals who travelled from hill to hill. One of the big advantages is that everyone got to see everyone else drive. Could be an interesting experiment on a clubman’s trial.

Michael's (October) Musings

MCC stuff this time as I muse on comments in Triple, some of which could affect quite a few of my readers.

In a well produced and fascinating edition the articles of the senior MCC officials all refer to the committee’s concern about the appearance of many of the cars competing in today’s events, with special paint jobs, roll cages being among the things mentioned for concern. Over the years the Classic Trials establishment has often questioned if Buggy’s and American Sand Rail type cars should be allowed on Classic’s. Indeed John Parsons was once refused an entry for his Fugitive.

This could affect some of the cars owned by one or two of my buddies. Mike Hayward tells me his Escort has been mentioned in the latest despatches and I am sure that Owen’s new special will have raised a few eyebrow’s.

I believe it is important that whatever your view you make it known to the MCC (and perhaps the ACTC) committee. Otherwise your opinion won’t get considered!

Personally I think that banning trailers is a good start but that’s just my opinion. I believe the thought of driving back from Lands End would keep some of the more extreme creations back in their hutch. Then lets build on that with longer night runs and the Lands End finishing in the proper place!

Michael's (September) Musings

Not much motoring to report on the personal Motoring front as I have spent a lot of my summer mountain biking. After my exploits at Rowney Warren Wood that I reported last month I did two more races, one up at Wadenhoe near Oundle and another at Milton Keynes bowl.

I think the Wadenhoe one was the biggest success as I didn’t finish last! Further Mountain bike adventures involved taking the train to Huntingdon and cycling back via the tracks and bridleways and the following week doing the same from Hatfield, this was a record for Richard and I as the route back via St Albans, Offley, Hitchin and Letchworth was over 50 miles.

Other outings involved a trip to Lydden to see Chris Bray’s first Motor Race and a trip to Peterborough to watch the run-off for the Speedway World Cup. Good fun but the Beetle still lies un-attended in the garage. The first summer it hasn’t been apart since I’ve owned it. Hopefully it will be OK for The Edinburgh!

Michael's (August) Musings

The Production Car class at the Autotest was a real success, giving Rachel and Richard a wonderful opportunity to get a whole day to develop their driving skills. This class is also a good way to get other family members to have a go!

Like many others I think it is so important to get the younger generation into the sport and these events provide that vehicle. Alan and Clive Titmus were driving a nearly new Vauxhall Corsa, with no ill effects at all. With all the low slung plastic spoilers it’s probably only Autotests and perhaps 12 car rallies that it remains possible to "have a go" in a modern daily driver.

One interesting point though. A lot of modern cars have traction control as standard. Does this comply with the trials regulation that says you must have a "non-torque biasing differential in full and free operation between the driving wheels"? My interpretation of the Blue Book is that it’s OK in Autotests but trials could be a different matter.

Michael's (July) Musings

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The regs for the Edinburgh have been published and I guess most of us got them filled in and posted the day the came!

The sections look good, with all the old favourites but there is a single start, at Tamworth, and the night run has been all but abolished.

The introduction says this is in response to members comments. Nobody asked me but I feel this is retrograde step. The night run from different starts is an essential part of an MCC event, one of the things that makes them so special and different.

I will certainly be passing this "comment" onto the MCC committee. If you think the same then make sure you let them know.

Despite this I am sure I will still enjoy The Edinburgh which has always been my favourite event. The hills are good and the countryside spectacularly beautiful. If you aren’t entering you should get up to Derbyshire to marshal or spectate

Michael's (June) Musings

Latest news on SOD’s is that they are trying to merge with some of the other local clubs, including Bedford Car Club, who are into Autotests and were in fact running one at Willington on the same day as The Spring Fever. More news soon.

May was quite a good month for the club with a lot of members having a really good day at Brooklands and a very successful Autotest opener. Over the years I thought I had seen every permutation of "forward only" tests in Neil and Allison's paddock but Andrea came up with some very good new ones. Most enjoyable.

One of the broadest smiles was on Alistair Brays face when Dave Nash presented him with Noddy. It won’t be long when until our first Bray one –two at Upper Caldecote!

Congratulations to Classical Gassers Chris Phillips and Mark Rosten-Edwards on their new ACTC roles. Chris is taking over the role of Championship Secretary from Giles Greenslade while Mark becomes the Assistant Editor of Re Start magazine in place of Dennis Greenslade. I hope they both enjoy their jobs, especially Chris as I played a small part in that appointment!!

Michael's (May) Musings

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Blue Hills 2 on The Lands End - Michael negotiating the MCC's artificial chicane in this rather shadowy photo taken by Charlie Wooding

The winter’s classic trialling season has come to an end with the Lands End and Kyrle Trials. The Lands End was a bit different this year, with the new Clerk of the Course incorporating his own ideas into the event. It all seemed to go off quite well although I am sure there would have been problems at Bishops Path if it had been wet.

Unfortunately Stroud will not now be running their Anniversary Trial that was postponed last year when Foot and Mouth came along. It’s a shame as it was going to use some of the sections from Falcon’s Guy Fawkes when it was a Classic held in the Cotswolds..

It looks as if SOD’s have packed up. I had always continued my membership but there has been no communication what-ever for more than six months, no magazine, membership renewal, nothing. It’s a sad end to such a famous old club that had been one of the cornerstones of Motor Sport in The Chilterns and had organised many National events, including an ACTC event "The Conquest Trial" that took place in Derbyshire.

It seems there has been another death in the family as I can't find the "Routecard" site any more. Anyone have any news?

Michael's (April) Musings

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Michael and Richard Leete scrabbling for grip on the upper reaches of John Barber 2 at Kensworth

I really enjoyed Murray’s March Hare. There’s something very special about a Classic Trial. They are so much more than the sections. The navigation, the fact that you never know what is coming next, the scenery, even having to keep pumping up the tyres. It’s all part of the adventure.

It’s a lot of work for the organisers to put on such an event, which involves route authorisation, producing a road-book, plus having to liase with so many land-owners and adjoining property owners.

It was a great result though. The "old timers" enjoyed it and quite a few drivers and cars had a relatively gentle introduction to Classic Trialling.

My competitive highlights were battling with the banks at Mile Tree Farm, cleaning the second section at Kensworth and getting away from the Norton Street Lane re-start. But most of all I enjoyed the atmosphere of the event, driving round the countryside with good companions. The meal at the end. It was a really good day.

Michael's (March) Musings

I missed Falcon's Brickhill Trial as I was working at an exhibition at the NEC once again. I hope it was a good event and that someone else has taken up the pen!

It was such a shame Edlesborough was so slippery. It’s a nice venue when it’s dry but it only takes the slightest bit of rain for it to turn into a mud bath, when just getting to the sections becomes a trial in itself.

It was a tough position for Mike Pearson, pretty much dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t, but I believe he made the right decision to go ahead. It was certainly a great entry and a full turnout out of friendly marshals.

Falcon is certainly looking healthy. A full calendar of well supported events and a healthy financial position. We have an enthusiastic committee, lets give them out full support at the AGM where we have the chance to say what we want from the club.


Michael's (February) Musings

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Back to normal for Clee Hills Class Winner Michael Leete as he reverses down yet another hill on The Cotswold Clouds (picture by John Salter)

A few word’s about my own trialling this month. I actually won something, coming first in Class 4 and third overall (out of 80!) on The Clee Hills ACTC Championship round.

There was a bit of good fortune of course, there has to be. The event and the conditions suited my Beetle and my driving style. Rough, tough and un-sophisticated with lot’s of deep ruts and not many corners. Pedal to the metal and hold on tight!

Mike Hayward and I knew we were in with a chance when we only dropped one on the second hill when most of our class either under-steered into the bushes just off the start line or grounded out at the five.

The rest of the day was really nerve-racking, trying not to make to many mistakes and throw the class lead away. It would have been worse if we had realised that we would have won the trial overall if we had lost two fewer marks!

Next week I drove in Falcon's local trial at Edlesborough and won my class as well, this time with my son Richard as passenger. The week after it was off down to Stonehouse for The Cotswold Clouds, would it be three in a row? Sadly no, it was back to normal and we were in the bottom half of the class.

Hope to see some of you at Falcon's March Hare on the 10th March.


Michael's (January) Musings

It’s coming to a very busy time of the year for Falcon, with two of our biggest events within a few weeks of each other. The Southern Auto’s PCT at Brickhill in February is an RAC and BTRDA round and generally attracts a very big entry. We need lots of marshal’s to make it a success.

Then on 10th March we have Murray’s March Hare, a "road going " Classic with sections on at least half a dozen venues on private land plus four sections on Byways. Again we need lots of marshals to make this event a success.

Both of these events have the same team in the engine room. John Parsons, Mike Pearson and Verdun Webley. Lets all try and support them by entering or marshalling. These are prestige event’s for the club. Get those dates in your new diaries!

Before that we have the trial at Edlesborough, a nice relaxed Clubman’s affair.


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