Lotus Elan

3 castles

PostPost by: jimj » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:03 am

Holidays are like medical complaints; you want to tell everyone about yours but they just want to tell you about their`s. Well, I want to tell you about our`s so, please, grant me the self-indulgence.
We`re really lucky in that we have a great bunch of pals who also have old cars and like to come on events like the 3 Castles. Some of the cars are, like ours, quite modest, some less so, one quite IMMODEST. I wouldn`t be surprised if Alan has rondels on his underpants. That said, Alan`s car is fabulous; a brilliantly engineered and upgraded rally spec. DB5 with more horsepower than the Household Cavalry. It really is the dog`s biscuits (an expression of superlativety more mellifluous and so much more polite than the more common metaphor). His car was voted again the most desirable car in the rally. I`m not sure I entirely agree, Terry brought his mint original DB4 GT, there was a delightful Frazer Nash Targa Florio and Peter Neumark`s gorgeous C type was in a lovely shade of light blue that almost matched my wife`s eyes (chaps, look and learn!) plus, of course there was our Elan. I think that, secretly, Alan has an affection and some respect for our car. It`s difficult to tell, he`s quite good at keeping this secret.
A couple of years ago one of the organisers of the 3 Castles, Sara, gave our disparate group the name Happy Valley Ralliers. Some of us live in the Hope Valley and she`d been reading White Mischief, a tale of saucy goings on amongst ex-pats. in Kenya. I prefer the name Peak District Mafia, it sounds more manly, but the HVR name seems to have stuck. Not only that but being a clean living sort of bloke I don`t really approve of such shenanigans. Even so and though I love Carole Jackson there were other co-drivers on the rally that I`d quite like to navigate, not least amongst our group. No, Barry, not you. I don`t think that ladies appreciate that Mother Nature, eager to improve the gene pool bestowed a heavy responsibility with a double edged sword when she imbued polygamous urges on us poor alpha males. It`s a struggle to contain these impulses but I`m proud to say that in 37 years of marriage I`ve been 100% successful. The lack of opportunity to do otherwise, though, has been a disappointment.
It was great to arrive in Llandudno and meet up, not just with our pals but other folk met on previous events. We even chat with people from Lancashurr though they do talk funny, don`t they? Everyone is so friendly, so helpful. Even the most competitive competitors are happy to help, offer advice and tips. Out of 135 entries I reckon that the huge minority are just there for fun, hoping to do OK, maybe better than last time. I have the greatest respect for anyone who can finish in the top ten but suspect that to be that good you have to take yourself a bit seriously, more than we ever could. Having said that, anyone with the intellect to choose a Lotus must have a better chance than people of ordinary intelligence. At the pre-event dinner that night we were invited to submit a team entry of 3 cars. I agreed to join Alan in the DB5 and Terry in the DB4 GT in a team but only if I could choose the name.
We started the first day with tension, apprehension and not a little incomprehension. Our main aim being to concentrate on accuracy and avoid silly errors. Now, in the car, under pressure, both on high alert, things can get a little fraught. Sometimes criticism may be made, harmony can dissolve and voices can be raised. In our car next to the oil pressure gauge I`m going to fit a blood pressure gauge. This is when I came up with my Top Rallying Tip. I`ve shared this tip with quite a few people and the idea spread quite widely. I`m writing to Sebastian Loeb later. Throughout North Wales many crews were heard repeating this phrase, some didn`t even know who Carole was but believe me it works brilliantly. All you do when things get a little tense and arguments occur, when your co-driver becomes abusive and violence may break out around the next corner you simply say; " I love you Carole Jackson". It works every time. Try it.
We completed the first day with few errors, nothing major and were looking forward to the best bit, the bar. I`m not a big drinker, I`m not a big anything actually, I`m just not big, but a glass of beer at the end of such a day is perfect. There`s lots of tales and exaggeration and talk of derring do which usually turns out to be tales of derring didn`t. People typically say " how did your day go". I don`t know why people say this, like a medical condition they want to tell you about theirs. What you really want to hear is; " I really like your excellent car and thought your skill behind the wheel was outstanding", but they never do.
I always reply; "not entirely successful" which covers everything and you can then move on to talking about something else altogether. It`s amazing how many sentences begin with the classic phrase "if only". When the first day results were posted, later in the evening, I couldn`t believe it. Bear in mind that our optimistic target was to be in the top third, say 45th. Carole wasn`t cross with me but I still said; "I love you Carole Jackson". We were 5th............ bloomin` `eck. We did start taking ourselves seriously.
The next day was less successful but better than we could expect and we ended the day 11th. We lost 59 seconds when a flock of sheep was being moved down the road. I`d heard that people sh***ed sheep in Wales, I didn`t know that you could get sh***ed by sheep. In our class were 3 Porches, an Alfa, and a brilliant little Austin Healey Mark 2 Sprite, rally prepared, uprated. What a great little car and such good value and cheap to run. The crew were 2 young men, 2 dudes I think the modern expression is. I asked the owner what he thought the car was worth, he said he`d turned down ?18,000, turned down? WHAT? It`s worth more he said. I doubted his veracity even more when he said I could buy it, though, for ?17,500. Maybe I`m still accidentally adopting the persona of being a bit of a blithering idiot that I used to in business. I found that that way people`s expectations were more easily met. I like to think I was an inspiration to my hero, Boris Johnson. I did notice at the recent royal wedding that his hairstyle (style?) was not dissimilar to my own. Unfortunately the Sprite had electrical problems, a faulty alternator I think and they lost loads of time. Out of 135 starters around 20 were non-finishers and a simliar number lost half a day or more with mechanical problems. The organisation at the 3 Castles is brilliant, the best we`ve ever experienced apart from one thing: mechanical support. I understand the importance of supporting local business and the garage, Northern Jaguar are brilliantly helpful, he worked until 4 a.m. one night helping people but it`s just inadequate. On every other rally I`ve ever done there`s a company like Brittassist with mechanics at every time control, vans of parts, trailers and a team of mechanics keeping just about everyone going. I remember a few years ago somewhere my ignition light came on. At the control the mechanic checked the obvious, put a spare battery and jump leads in my boot and sent us on our way. At the coffee stop later on they replaced my alternator, brilliant. Why doesn`t Ian Drummomnd charge us, say, ?20 per person extra, that`s ?5400 towards paying for proper support. Last year we had a hub shaft issue on the practise day, I phoned the support number and the bloke told us to get another competitor to tow us (not good enough) to the helpful Northern Jags. He was too busy to help but offered advice and tools and we did our best and the bodge lasted the following day then we were trailered home. Proper support would have drilled out a keyway, slipped in a key and we could have carried on. How many this time could have completed the rally with adequate provision? Shame.
Day 3, final day and we were delighted to be in 11th but really, really hoped to be first in class. We were only 8 points behind the class leader, a really experienced crew in a really quick 356 with a really excellent driver, yes...really. I spoke to them at breakfast and expained that we`d never won our class and I`d like to think that our kids would be proud of us if we did. He said his kids didn`t care. "Exactly", I said. He laughed, I think he thought I was joking. Not deliberately losing is just not cricket, nowadays evidently. I didn`t realise just how seriously we were taking ourselves and how tense I must have been until the second test. A race against time around a complicated course littered with obstacles on a loose gravelly surface. Traction at a premium how could we could compete with the rear engined Porsche? Only by being really neat, precise and reigning in the red mist, which I did until the stop astride at the finish line. We didn`t stop astride, the wheels were locked and my buttocks were clenched but it didn`t work, strangely, on the loose surface. We didn`t just slide right over the line, we didn`t just knock over the marshall`s chair, we knocked it clean into the bushes. What a release of tension. We`d, or rather, I`d blown it and we could relax. It was like a giant of injection of Prozac, I even stopped worrying about improving the gene pool. The rest of the day went OK until......LOOK...I never confuse left and right do I? right? OK so I do have a little aide de memoir writ large on the dashboard but the heat of the moment can get pretty hot you know and sometimes...............and yes I did do the same thing again later. "IF ONLY"..................I felt I`d not only let the team down, I`d let Carole down and I`d let myself down but most of all I`d let the car down.
Carole has this rally policy where after any navigational errors you just have to move on and put it behind you, quite right. Any driving errors, though, and I have to be reminded of it for eternity.
So, we finished 31st, a great result for us and we`d had a great time plus we came second in class. You get an award for this which I`m not entirely comfortable with. My better half, a member of the fairer sex, bless her, also doesn`t like being patronised. I`d rather our foreheads were just stamped with the word loser. The big news and one of my proudest moments was in discovering that our team won first prize for the most successful team, "2 Astons and a Fast Car".
So....tell me about your holiday.......hang on, sorry, I`ve got to go, we alpha males have to go and resist the impulse to improve the gene pool, don`t y`know. Bye.
Jim
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:33 am

Jim

Thank you! I really enjoyed your holiday story and don't even feel the need to tell you about my holiday!

It sounds as if you had another great event. The 3 Castles always sounds a wonderful rally and one day I shall have to do it - if I can get in.

Tim
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PostPost by: jimj » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:18 am

Tim, you`d certainly "get in" as long as you book early. Scrutineering is picky on things like tyre profile but not much else. There`s always a big XK contingent and I bet few are using the Moss gearbox, for example. I don`t think the Getrag 5 speed was an option in period.
There were about 5 other Elans and 3 +2s in the event. They were all post `70 and enough to form their own class so, this year, we were grouped with pre-Dec `67 sub 1600cc cars, to our advantage. Graham Walker has usually comes in the top 3 since Sean has been navigating and typically they can usually, not always, beat us by a second on the tests. His Sprint is lowered, stiffened, all steel, dry sumped, etc. Maybe 150bhp+ with a 4.1 diff. and lsd. This year they broke down and lost a lot of time with something as trivial as a crimped wire in the electronic ignition. How annoying.
See you there next year, then.
Jim
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