Trials - old style

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Before the war it was the greatest fun to spectate at mud trials, or even go on them, as I did occasionally with someone who regarded them rather as others did their golf, as a way of enjoying fresh air in good country with a competitive element, but no dismay if awards escaped him. This person, with whom I have lost touch, had an MG Midget, then an MG Magnette with supercharger added.

I mention this because on April 29 the MGCC is staging a reunion of the kind of trials cars we watched or competed against all those years ago. Like the famous “works” team of MG “Cream Crackers”, etc, joined by “Grasshopper” A7 and Singers. There will be a photo-session on Minchampton Common from 2-4pm, after lunch at The Bear. That follows dinner the previous evening at this one-time trials’ rendevous, with speakers like Steve Dear etc. The trials cars will be in a marquee by the hotel, with a small charge to look. On the Sunday the Kimber Trial will start from the hotel at 9.30am, using pre-war hills including the dreaded Nailsworth Ladder two miles away.

Another trial I used to go on was the MCC Land’s End. It takes place for the 74th time this year on April 14/15, taking in such old hills as Sug Lane (21.55), Beggars Roost (01.45), Darracott (05.05), and Bluehills Mine 1 & 2 (11.20): times are for the first expected motorcycle. Starts Exeter (17.15), Basingstoke, Bristol, finishes at Land’s End from 13.45 (with test). Spectators welcome but arrive early and keep the sections clear.

Having just seen on BBC News that Damon Hill has been banned from driving for a week and charged a few hundred pounds (fine and costs) for doing 102 mph on the M40 in good daylight, low-traffic conditions protected by his skills as a motor-car manipulator, I seem to recall an occasion when an Italian racing driver was charged with speeding when on a visit to an Irish race. The story goes that he was doing around 90 mph, but that the case was dismissed — because the Magistrate said the Police must be mistaken, as no car could do such a speed…

Incidentally, Damon was first referred to as “the world’s second-fastest driver”. But surely that implies the American Gary Gabelich (622 mph)?