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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 2004 Musings

Michael's (December 2004) Musings

Itís certainly a busy end of season for most Falconís. The Guy Fawkes followed quickly after The Gill Morrell. How different they were.  Brickhill was nice and dry but not so at Kensworth where persistent drizzle made conditions slippery all day.

Never mind, contending with the conditions is what trialling is all about.

The feature of this edition of Classical Gas is the first instalment about Simon Groveís trials season. Itís really nice to see a new generation of an established trials family out on the hills. Now if only John would get that Troll finished!

I am out of action as a driver for the time being but hopefully that will allow me to get out and about with my camera a bit more.

Michael's (November 2004) Musings

The Classic trials season has resumed after the summer break. There were 23 Falcon crews driving on the Edinburgh and thatís not including our three non-starters.

I thought it was great event and how amazing was Litton Slack! The cars arrived comparatively late in the day, when the dew had gone, but boy was it difficult to find grip. I am sure a lot of the class eights would have succeeded without their re-start but I was one of many to watch Dudleys attempt and when he failed we all knew it definitely wasnít on.

Falcon had a couple of really good climbs when both Simon Groves and Colin Sumner got beyond the A boards to win their classes. A particular well done to Colin to do so well in his low slung Morgan. I would love to have seen how he managed to get the car through the ruts, mud and rocks of Great Hucklow. I wonder how long it is since a Morgan did so well on a trial?

Michael's (October 2004) Musings

The nights are drawing in now and for many of us Motor Sport shifts from Autotests to Trials. This winter could see the return of rallying as well, with the decision of the Watling Club to merge with Falcon

Watling have concentrated mainly on Rallying and Autotests but like so many clubs have had a problem with declining membership, to the point where it became difficult to find enough members to compete, organise and marshal events.

This is a sign of the times that have seen the departure of many clubs, including SODís in particularly sad circumstances. Fortunately the Watling team recognised the difficulty and did something about it before it was too late.

Personally I am looking forward to getting involved in Rallying again, although as I donít have a suitable car it will be through marshalling. Perhaps I should have kept the Nova!

Michael's (September 2004) Musings

Michael's Dellow is getting neglected while he prepares his Beetle for the Autumn season

Where did the summer go to this year? Iím not talking about the weather itís the time! It seems only yesterday that I came back from The Lands End and now the Edinburgh looms and I havenít done a thing to the Beetle.

The front suspension needs re-bushing to try to get rid of the dreaded shakes that bedevil Beetles with McPherson struts.

While I am enjoying the Dellow there are two reasons why I donít plan to use it for long distance trials, at least for a while. The first is reliability. Itís very much an un-known quantity and what I do know doesnít inspire me with confidence. David, the guy I bought it from, was very honest when he told me he hadnít done anything to it for the eight years he owned it!

The other reason is of course that I donít really fit in it. Certainly there is no question of erecting the hood unless I cut a hole in it. Anyway, if Dudley never uses a hood then neither will I!

Michael's (August 2004) Musings

"OK the brakes are working now what about all this?"

I have finally managed to get the Dellow back on its wheels and on the road after rebuilding the brakes which involved throwing pretty much everything away and starting again. Never mind it introduced me to the joys of making brake pipes!

I had the ambition of taking it to the Testing Trial, but that passed by with the car still on its axle stands, so Falconís August Autotest will be its next competitive outing.

I went to the MCC AGM which was interesting. I raised an issue during the formal part of the AGM which, if you were there, you will know wasnít resolved to my satisfaction. Afterwards I received some face-to-face comments and later some e-mails, some pushing me to go on with my question and some, including from a gentleman who I have known a very long time and respect enormously, suggesting I should be more diplomatic in my approach.

So, some thinking to do. Perhaps Itís best that I stay out of Motor Club politics' and concentrate on learning how to drive a trials car properly and riding my bike! I have done a bit of long distance mountain biking recently but no races this year as I didnít spend enough time training in the spring.

Michael's (July 2004) Musings

Still fixing the Dellow's brakes!

Itís been a month of slaving away in the garage on the Dellow. Hopefully I will get the chance to get in some roof down summer motoring once it has a braking system that works! It would be nice to take it to the autotests as well.

I understand that SODís have officially folded. I know a lot of people, including Laurie Knightís grandson, would like to know the fate of all the trophies. I wonder whatís officially supposed to happen in those circumstances? I was actually a paid up member in the final years but I havenít had any form of communication.

It looks possible that David Thompson may be coming back to the area to work. It would be super to see him at our events again, hopefully driving his Troll.

Looks like insurance for road events will go up now Marsh have pulled the plug. The Alexander Forbes Scheme is more expensive but doesnít seem to involve paperwork. I think my Dellow insurance may include road cover for trials but the wording is very ambiguous.

Michael's (June 2004) Musings

Fixing the Dellow's brakes!

Falconís Autotest opener went off very well. I had hoped to drive my Dellow but what I thought would be a simple job to fix the brakes has turned out to be a bit more complicated and I have decided to completely strip and refurbish them. This has involved taking the floor up so I decided to clean and paint part of the chassis as well!

Back to the autotest. Although Arnold won it was far from a forgone conclusion and Richard Tompkins came very close to taking the major honours with David Manning and Bob Tatum not so very far away.

It was a also super to see so many younger drivers having a go and the Production Class is certainly a success in giving them a chance to get started.

I hadnít heard that JP was stepping down as Vice-Chairman when I wrote last months piece. Itís super that JP will carry on organising Brickhill and the Sporting Challenge and I wish him well in his retirement from his business.

Michael's (May 2004) Musings

It was back to the Beetle for the Lands End

Mike Hayward and I really enjoyed our Lands End. I thought the sections were just right (although I might not have said that if I had to restart on Bishops Path or Bluehills 1).

We got a Silver after cleaning everything except Hoskin. Now I would have said this hill was impossible for class four until the results came and I saw how many people in similar cars got up. Needless to say we have a master plan for next year!

Time for a quick apology to Mike Pearson who will continue his C of the C role on next years March Hare so not to loose to much continuity by both he and JP stepping down to compete in one year. I know I have said it before but MP and JP donít get enough praise for the fantastic work they do on our trials, both in organising and behind the scenes.

With trialling finished for the season I can turn my attention to getting the Dellows brakes working so I can take it to the autotests. Then thereís the Beetles front suspension to re-build andÖÖÖ..

Michael's (April 2004) Musings

Michael Leete and Mike Hayward splashing their way up Half Moon Lane on The March Hare Trial in Michael's Dellow.

It was another excellent March Hare Trial. There is something special about driving on the road between the competitive bits as these events are about much more than the sections. Many thanks to JP, Mike, Dave and the entire team for a fantastic day.

I drove my Dellow which behaved much better than at Brickhill on The Southern Autoís where I put its problems down to excessive under-bonnet temperature. Mike Hayward and I got the full open car experience with rain, wind and snow to tackle as well as the hills!

I was quite astonished that it got round in one piece as the more I look at it the more jobs I can see to be done. We were lucky as the brake pedal went to the floor when I was driving it round the village the following weekend. I have yet to find the reason as I have been to busy preparing the Beetle for The Lands End.

Michael's (March 2004) Musings

The Dellow is on the back of Neil's Truck as former owner Davis Winstanley says goodbye.

Well it's all Murray's fault! A couple of years ago he arranged a very special birthday present for me, a day passengering Dudley Sterry. I really enjoyed my day in an open car and decided to get one myself. A Troll appealed but they are not readily available and then I set my heart on an old car, so a Dellow it had to be!

A telephone call to Jim Harvey" the man" in these matters and less than a week later I travelled up to Yorkshire to collect it.

It's a class 8 machine with a 1600 Crossflow. I took it to Brickhill and those of you who have seen it know its far from immaculate but I hope it will provide me with a lot of fun. It was advertised as being "ready to trial" but that is far from the truth. I plan to have a go on The March Hare with it, but its the faithful Beetle for The Lands End!

Michael's (February 2004) Musings

Michael on Wooston (Picture by Derek Hibbert)

There were lots and lots of Falconís out on the Exeter and what a great trial it was. Ken Green and his team have been steadily improving their event over the years. A few years ago I always felt the event had a big hole in the middle between Normans/Clinton and Tillerton. However the addition of the sections in Otterton Woods have fixed that nicely.

Inevitably there will be issues on such an event and this year there were two big ones. Classes one, two and five missed both Waterloo and Tillerton as they were thought either to difficult or too rough or both.

There were also issues with the scores on Slippery Sam again with lots of Run Backs on the class eight restart. Without that Clive and John would have got a gold which they richly deserved after being the only Falconís to climb both Wooston and Simms.

By the way thereís a new addition in the Leete garage. More of that on another occasion.

Michael's (January 2004) Musings

Michael's Beetle in the queue for Burledge on the Allen Trial

The year has come to an end but trialling is very much in full swing. Itís always strange to me that the ACTC and MCC ďyearsĒ end in the middle of what I think of as the ďseasonĒ. Perhaps we should change tradition and have the trials year from summer to summer?

Anyway, Roger Bricknell ended up as ACTC champion but only just as Dave Haizelden finished runner up in his Golf. Itís quite amazing how the top Class One drivers get their cars up some of the hills, two of them even came out the top of Burledge on The Allen, quite remarkable.

Roger and Dave were lucky that Paul Bartleman didnít do a full season as he won five of the six events he started in his Troll.

Talking of Trollís I here that David Thompson is recovering enough from his terrible injury to start thinking of trialling again and hopes to take part in The Northern Trial in his native Lake District. Iím sure everyone will join me in wishing David well.

Classic Trials Under Threat

As you may have read elsewhere our much revered government have discovered that a small body of people have the audacity to be enjoying themselves. They have reacted by getting Mr Alun Michael on the case. Yes this the man who had to leave his position as First Secretary for Wales with his tail between his legs, very appropriate as he has been described in the press as ďMr Blairs PoodleĒ.

This is a quote from their so called consultation document.

ďAs Rural Affairs Minister, I have been approached by many individuals and organisations who are deeply concerned about problems caused by the use of mechanically propelled vehicles on rights of way and in the wider countryside. I share these concerns, having seen for myself examples of damage to fragile tracks and other aspects of our natural and cultural heritage in various areas of the country. There is considerable concern about behaviour that causes distress to others seeking quiet enjoyment of the countryside.Ē

Reading the paper gives the impression that they are out to ban Cars and Bikes from all un-surfaced tracks. The ACTC, LARA and other organisations are fighting against the effect on our sport. Please support them. You can read more on the Internet at

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