Joggers run wild

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Fully 120 cars set out from Land’s End on a four day rally to John o’Groats. And it was fun all the way. Tom Threlfall reports on the best LE JOG yet

This 1700-mile, four-day Regularity rally was first held in 1993, when there were three dozen entries for the Reliability Trial. This year the entry list was full, at 120 cars, plus 24 in the Touring Trial which used the main event’s controls, but not their chronometers. Two dozen of the Reliability Trial’s entries were of pre-war origin, ranging from Peter and Sue Noble’s 1925 6.2-litre Lanchester Tourer and Gerhard Weissenbach’s 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom I, via a trio of 12/50 Alvises to the three Roesch Talbots of James Wheildon, Luc Slipen, and Nicholas Ward. There were no fewer than 11 MGBs entered – three crewed by ladies plus eight Austin Healey 3000s, six Porsche 356s and five Volvo PV544s (the model with a body-style based on that of the prewar Ford V8). To have achieved an entry of such quality and quantity just three years after running his first LE JOG, in competition with such events as the Monte Carlo Challenge, indicates that Clerk-of-the-Course John Brown has his LE JOG menu about right.

Brown is planning a warmer event, but still on LE JOG lines, to Cape Town in 1998.

The show started at 07.45 on 7 December from the signpost at Land’s End, when the Nobles’ Lanchester trundled into the freezing darkness of the first special test, and then set off up the A30 in a northeasterly direction. There were more tests at Wiscombe Pary, Eppynt, and Stanhope Ford (Co Durham) before the “Joggers” could get their heads down for a few hours in Edinburgh.

The first car was due at Knockhill circuit, in the Cleish hills just north of the Forth Bridge, at 08.00 on the third day, and after that it was all go via the Kenknock mini-Stelvio, Rest-and-be-Thankful, the Great Glen, Ullapool (“Next fuel 117 miles”, said the route card), Altnahara and a forestry road (unmarked on the OS map) through the Altnabreac forest, to the finish at John o’Groats house, where the card was more positive: “The bar will be open: a roaring fire and bacon and eggs await”.

Although John o’Groats was slightly less cold than in some previous years, the atmosphere of detachment from the real world persisted. For accommodation and the post-JOG bun-fight, the show moved 20 miles to Wick (population 7000, Edinburgh 263m, London 638m) for a gala dinner and the presentation of the trophies. It had been by common consensus, the best LE JOG yet, thanks to the generous participation of the Automobile Association.

More notable class winners were: Pre-1930 Peter and Sue Noble (1925 Lanchester Tourer); Pre-1944 Phil Surtees, John Bayliss (1942 Willys Jeep); Pre-1952 Alan Dinsdale, Mike Dalby (1953 MG YB); Pre-1959 Jorg Schmidt, Sonia Hetherington (1960 Renault Dauphine); Pre-1967 Richard de la Roche, Graham Hatfield (1960 Austin Seven). The only Gold Award went to the 1942 Jeep of Surtees and Bayliss; AA LE JOG Trophy (Best marque team) Alvis Hares (Podger, Burnett and Tomlin); Brooks Auctioneers National Team Trophy Ecurie Germany (Schmidt, Moir, Seim and extra); Automobile Trophy (Best pre-war Marque Team) Avis Hares.

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