Well I have plenty of room up front for all the acquired assets with a double row of grille space
Just need to plan it all out in the “mind’s eye”
The only two badges of memrobelia that I have not got are Donnington Raceway and Thruxton Circuit, very close to where I lived in Andover, Hampshire. Yes, there is a story here!
Not the most elegant support vehicle
During my 8 cherished years on BBMF with the Lancaster our support crews did their duties in somewhat less than elegant RAF transit vans, which, although adequate for the task, did little for the “Image”. Time for some “loaner vehicles” which were acquired from British Areospace who also controlled British Leyland and all the various marques of British cars, including, Rover, MG, Austin, Morris, and a host more. We got three Rover Montego Estates and I think one MG 1300.
We get invited to go to a Trade Day at Donnington and fly the Lanc over there and a standard photo shoot takes place with our support vehicles.
Donington Park Raceway for both cars and bikes
Now this promotional day is to showcase all the company’s new ranges of cars and 200 members of the trade are invited to test drive any of the available cars. After a few laps of the circuit with an instructor, people can come and go, driving whatever they fancy by themselves, or drive the more powerful variants with an instructor.
Of course there were some hazards and “moments”, some wild arse driving from so called professionals entering corners way too fast while others appeared to be on a Sunday drive and seem to know nothing about “the racing line, or double de-clutching and heel and toe techniques”. The Track Marshals would wave a flag at you if you were solo and going like a bat out of hell, but if you were with an instructor they would just carry on with their lunch. I do remember that race tracks had that “rumble strip” on the edge of the track and now we see it everywhere on our modern day roads.
I think I drove about 3 of the more mundane cars to keep my mind on the line and recognise the braking points and then it was about 10 sessions with the instructors who were taking notes as you went round.
Craner Curves Donington
Come the end of the day a massed buffett and liquid refreshment which we could enjoy as we were night stopping, and then the CEO of British Leyland gives his speech and thanks to all the invited guests and “professional trade drivers”. During the course of the day (we) were all entertained by our Lancaster Captain, Squadron Leader Tony Banfield , telling us how to handle fast cars, how GOOD HE WAS without any modesty, and many other tricks of the trade.
The CEO rambles on “…. and now we come to the winner of the best driver of the day ……… by unanimous verdict of the Instructors, and is in fact a member of our visiting Lancaster Crew ?………… Squadron Leader ……….( wait for it) ……… TONY ………. (I see Banfield pushing back his chair) ……….. DOWN, well Banfield was suddenly gracious as if he were clearing the way for me and started the applause……. good recovery!
The Prize was a day at the Thruxton Racing Circuit, near my home in Andover, driving a Single Seater open wheel Formula Ford Race Car and as a momento of the day a pair of very nice engraved drinking tumblers.
Formula Ford Open wheel & Cockpit
Once again a few runs around the Circuit in those pretty punchy MG Maestro Turbos which were quite delightful apart from the too narrow screaming tires.
Time to get dressed in full Racing Attire and get briefed on the car that I’ll be driving. A few other drivers on paid courses, one or two know alls, and a load of mechanics and Instructors. Get strapped in which of course doesn’t phase me flying the F4 Phantom.
Biggest problem is clutch/power, wrong ratios here and you stall or jerk away like a startled horse! Couple of stalls for me but then get it sorted. Incredible narrow “H” gate which I’m not too happy with on the gearbox, vision OK, steering wheel good, and off I go.
First couple of laps getting the feel
Keep getting passed by the MG Maestros as my machine is decidedly down on power.
These MG’s are Quicker!
Get waved in after a few laps, situation explained, YES, they have detuned them as we don’t want any lunatic behaviour, little horns poking through helmets, or any crashes. Drink and smoke later, invited to drive a different car. Well the colors are better, and it does seem to have some extra WOOF !!
This is more like it! even manage to pass a few MG’s !!
All too soon the day is over. Always thought I was better on a bike, so stick to Trials and then when I came to the USA joined up with TEAM ARIZONA in Phoenix becoming a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Instructor/Rider Coach which also made you a MVD Motorcycle Examiner (More stories!)
The MV Augusta Italian Racehorse with 186 HP and only weighed in at just under 400lbs. 4 exhausts under the seat for an orgasmic howl and over 200 mph. It also said “Running in, do not exceed 9000 RPM!!!!!!”
This one was perhaps my favorite, an Erion Racing Honda 929RR which had been all chromed out at vast expense and I rebuilt it in Rothman’s Racing colors. About 160 HP 170 mph and a joy to ride
Teaching my son, Edward, the joys of a high speed bike. No the MV was not involved!
Well enough, well nearly, of my motoring experiences, time to sit back and remember as I await my next toy! Should be here this week and I’ll carry on the global search for those two badges. Here is one I just missed at a UK auction!
I know they are out there!