Tatton Park was fab! And… a full house! We had a slightly out-of-the-way pitch, behind the main copse in the display field at Tatton, but this proved rather fortuitous as the sunshine belted down & some shade was very welcome! One of the chaps who has two Marcos persuaded his brother to drive the second car down to the show, & another owner from Huddersfield, Yorkshire turned up out of the blue to give a nice round ten cars, & by accident rather than design, a nice range of cars from the different eras, with a mixture of Coupes & Spyders. Bob, the previous incumbent of the CMI Organiser for Cheshire/North West, had liberated some of the ‘Marcos’ branded boundary tape from the 50th down at Prescott, so the stand looked jolly posh! Roger & Mellanie Garland also kindly turned up to backfill a Mini-Marcos drop-out, & proceeded to unpack the most amazing amount of kit from the MM, including, if I can quite believe it, a table! Anyway, he had various old copies of Marcos car mags, plus some remnants of the 50th Souvenirs available like keyrings, mugs, clocks etc which were generally snapped up by his captive audience i.e. the rest of the Marcos owners. The Tatton Show organisers kindly awarded us the ‘Best Club Stand’ trophy, only to return very apologetically some minutes later to say that another stand had also won it. Now, our stand was a bit better than normal, but far short of the uber-stands that some of the clubs showcase (lawnmower, anyone?) so I suspect our award was something of a sop to the fact that 2009 was our 50th Anniversary, however it was a lovely gesture on the organiser’s part. The actual trophy was missing the engraved plate (hastily removed?) & I agreed to get one done myself… however, what to get? “Best Club Stand” is a bit boring… how about “Car we would most like to own – The TVR club”? Heh! Heh! OK, maybe not… <cough> Anyway, I must get some pictures added to this blog.
Tatton Park tomorrow. Of the ten cars who had requested exhibitor passes, four have dropped out in the last 24 hours. Gaaaaargh! Some hasty ringing around & some emails may have mitigated this so we’ll have to see how many cars make it for 0830 hours tomorrow morning at the Swan meet point. I am expecting nine cars, but no longer sure of owners or models! In the meantime some more work with Mequiars detaling gubbins means the car is still looking pretty good, so fingers crossed there’s no rain. It would be nice to pick up a trophy from the Tatton Park judges on the 50th year…
Now back from the 50th Anniversary of Marcos weekend. Wow!
Another solid breakfast addressed the hangover (well, a bit) then it was off to the Prescott Hill Climb circuit for the main event! This time the convoy managed to stay reasonably together & I arrived with an incredible feeling of anticipation. We were marshalled into different display areas based on the era of the model we were driving, & I found myself parked amongst many Mantis, LMs & Mantulas. Bah! It turns out my car is quite common after all…
Progress in all directions is slow, with people to say hello to, & many, many fabulous cars to look at. I mean to spend a few minutes watching the first few cars start ‘going up the hill’ but it’s hard to leave & I end up spending an hour or more just behind the start line. It’s fascinating with Marcos models from every era, in every shape & in every colour (& condition!) driving the hill climb. It’s hard to single out individual highlights from the day but seeing the Mantis XP belting up the climb with Ned at the wheel must be one of them. Another is undoubtedly the site of Cor Euser burning some rubber on the first of many trips up the hill in one of the Dutch Supercar Challenge cars, with a willing (but perhaps slightly nervous!?) passenger alongside. Fortunately some of the cars were videod so you can see for yourself.
Too many people to mention, but was pleased to see a Mantis had made it down from Macc for the day (although didn’t stay long due to crowds & traffic), & also Lewis in his ‘World’s most expensive Mantula’ which he took up the hill very successfully. My guess is that there were about 260 cars there, but I await the ‘official’ count from the 50th organising committee at some point. I was content to watch others take their cars up the hill, & had already decided that I couldn’t afford to risk anything else breaking on the Mantis as there is no money left at this point. I had some very kind offers to ride shotgun but I’m never mad keen on being a passenger in a fast car & anyway the real pleasure would have been to have had the experience in my own car, not someone else’s.
Coming home was inevitably something of an anti-climax. I clung on to a little bit of the Marcos high by following another green Mantis as far as the M5, whereupon he turned south & I turned north. I admit to doing some ‘hunting’ along the M5 & M6 for another Marcos to travel north in convoy with, but in a stark reminder of how rare the cars really are (having been surrounded by hundreds of them an hour previously!) I only encountered one other Marcos – a foreign Mantis being trailered back to a port. A quick flash of the headlights & they were left behind. At the Services one or two people asked me what the car was as so often happens, & as I tried to explain about Marcos, I thought to myself… “Cor, you should have been where I was this morning!…”
A full English sorted out the hangover & after a quick wipe down with Mequiars Detailer the Mantis was looking nice & shiny again, so it was off to the next part of the 50th Rally – the Concours event at Sudeley Castle. The mass exit from the hotel car park predictably splintered at the first set of traffic lights, where yours truly was left to lead the second half of the convoy. Unfortunately I hadn’t bothered to get out the SatNav or even look up where the castle was, so it wasn’t long before I pulled over & let someone (in fact anyone) else take the lead: Dave & Mandy Chivers took up the gauntlet & soon we were all cursing them for taking us up the narrowest, steepest, most winding & muddiest single track lane in the world – obviously this was down to their SatNav but, hey, shoot the messenger(driver), right? We emerged onto a main road where several other cars joined us (not sure who was most pleased to see who!) & we then went through some pretty narrow villages where the parked cars & oncoming traffic made for some interesting moments. The LM600 in particular had a hard time of it. Eventually we took a right turn out of the village & straight up a hill leading to Sudeley Castle, & it was at this point on the one-way road that I glanced at the fuel gauge & realised that in all the excitement I had forgotten to check I had enough petrol. Not only was the needle past the 1/4 mark (where even the Owners manual directs you to fill up!) but it was below the ‘Empty’ mark. With no room to turn round, & no recollection of any petrol stations anyway, I immediately had visions of becoming ‘that berk at the 50th who blocked 100 cars from the castle’ but to my immense relief I made it up the track & into the filed by the castle entrance where row upon row of Marcos greeted me. Having seen about 30 Marcos in the hotel car park, I estimate there were over 100 cars when I arrived, with at least another 20 or so trickling in throughout the day. This was the first real taste of the size of the 50th gathering & I doubt I was alone in getting goosebumps as I looked at all the cars. The LM600 had pride of place outside the MOC club stand, where John Brookes had set up some seats & was flogging some 50th anniversary shirts. Hats off to John as he had sacrificed bringing his own Marcos along to ensure the MOC had a stand – not sure I would have been so selfless! Once again I started meeting more faces, some familiar some not. Good to see Jay again (& the ex Challenge car, which was now sufficiently finished to permit Mrs Jay to come along!), & some of the Mantis brigade that I had previously only met through the Forum, including Mixel Del Max & VincentBLightening. Nice chaps, great cars but damned if I can remember their real names.
I didn’t bother entering the Mantis into the Concours, not just because there were some beautifully prepared cars there (including Mr Partridge’s blue S/C Mantis of course, which deservedly took 1st prize in the end), but also because it felt a bit unsporting as I hadn’t prepped that car myself. However this turned out to be a bonus as I ended up having a chat with Cor Euser who owns Marcos Racing International, whilst most other people were attending the Concours prize giving: what a thoroughly nice chap Cor is! Particularly as I clearly knew bugger all about Motorsport & didn’t follow his exploits on a regular basis… I will try to do so a bit more in the future.
Roger Young from MOC made a brief speech, then it was a pleasure to see Isobel Chivers presented with a cut-glass ‘thingy’ in recognition of everything she had done over the years to keep the whole concept of a club for Marcos owners going, in the form of Club Marcos International. Jem gave a (brief!) speech then so did Cor (most sucessful Marcos racing driver ever etc). After this I met a few more faces from the Marcos Forum including the graphics chaps who have been so helpful: MarcosGazza from the UK, & the legendary Lou & Phil from Luxembourg! I then set off for the hotel via a petrol station, having begged some fuel off my ‘Damsel in shining armour’ (as it were) in the form of Berni, who is justifiably the proud owner of a rather splendid red Mantaray. Thank you Berni!!!
Back at the hotel taxi’s were hastily organised & eight of us set off for the evening’s entertainment, & my first view of Prescott Hill Climb. As we arrived there was a steady flow of Marcos in & out of the site, & a bloody great field of the things for those owners who had opted for some hardcore camping! Excellent. The buffet meal was excellent if a little rushed, & the evening soon became another frenzy of meetings & greetings! Poor old John B was marooned up at the MOC tent so I walked a beer up to him but he was ahead of the game anyway! I took the opportunity to walk the circuit with some of the others, then settled down with a beer or two to watch the sun set – the view being unexpectedly pleasant. Isobel had specified a reasonably early taxi back, so despite some barracking from Phil Cunningham I set off back to the hotel thinking that the evening would have a reasonably quiet finish…. but I had reckoned without the Luxembourg chaps, Lou & Phil! Suffice to say that at 0300 hours Sunday morning I called it a day & shambled back to my room, having had a fantastic second day.
The first day of what promises to be the highlight of my Marcos owning lifetime, the 50th Anniversary Celebration Rally. After much anticipation, I left home three hours later having struggled to get off my work laptop. Another reminder that the old work-life balance isn’t quite there yet! Today (Friday) is the ‘Mystery Tour’ & everyone was due to meet at one of two start points between 1000 & 1200 hours. After my late start, exacerbated by a torrid time on the M6 through Birmingham, I got to the northerly meet point (a Garden Centre) at 1330 hours, only 90 minutes late… Fortunately Marcos people being Marcos people, someone had waited & I picked up a list of checkpoints (with Post Codes – Hurrah for SatNav!). Also met a new Mantis & Mantaray owner, & John Brookes who is in the process of re-awakening the Marcos Owners Club. I had to miss most of the early checkpoints but headed off to an Art Gallery (how very civilised!) where I never made it through the door but instead caught up with some people I hadn’t seen for a few years! This may be a common event throughout the weekend!!! I proceeded to follow Bob Skidmore in his cracking yellow LM400 off to another checkpoint (Weston’s Cider!) but again, hit the car park, got chatting to some of the Luxembourg owners & never made it into the site. Then called it a day & headed off to the Regency Hotel in Cheltenham where I knew some of the other owners were staying. Arrived at the car park to be greeted by about 20 Marcos, &, of course, The Morrisons parked by the hosepipe (some things never change!). Yet again, it took over an hour to get from my car to the hotel reception as I caught up with some more owners. Absolutely delighted to see Christian Fey who champions the marque so successfully in Europe but was poorly at the end of last year. Also saw Isobel who has, as always, done an awful lot of the organising for this event. Eventually checked in & pleased to find I had the outermost room looking directly onto the car park full of Marcos. Result! Slightly concerned Richard Partridge’s Mantis is 2 ft from my window though, as he will probably be up polishing it at 0500 hours tomorrow morning! Hotel bar full of Marcos owners so grabbed a beer & got chatting. Met Ned Morris who is one of the two brothers who own the Marcos Mantis XP, which they have restored, &, unbelievably, flown over for the 50th Rally. Now how cool is that?!? Ned was a thoroughly nice chap & it was interesting talking to him, but there was a queue (to talk to him not me!) so after a while we both moved on. Ended up chatting to Jeremy Kearns (of Redline Sportscars & ex Marcos Sales), Jonathan Harmer (S/C Mantis) & Phil Cunningham (who bought the first Mantis before it was finished!) & we dined together, along with Jonathan & Jeremy’s charming wives. Jeremy & Phil between them had some hair-raising stories from the days of Marcos during the 90s, & it was a very entertaining dinner indeed! The group disintegrated about 0130 hours Saturday morning, but I note that of the four people still standing (swaying?), three of them were Mantis owners!