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.