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June 15th 2013

‘One Mile to go’, London-Edinburgh or Bust
by Jim Ellis.

‘It’s because it doesn’t have a name, your car is trying to sell you something’ joked Roger, our jovial recovery chappie, contracted by the RAC to recover myself, stepfather and driver David Moore and our rather sick 1935 Brough Superior Dual Purpose Car home from the Gleneagles resort, north of Edinburgh Scotland. We had 310 miles to Nottingham and I was due to fly back to Canada the next day. You see, we had just completed a marathon 670 miles of endurance rally in just 3 days, nursing our very sick Brough the last few miles to the finishing line at Gleneagles the previous evening.

The 'Startline' of the Flying Scotsman rally, Hanbury Manor , Ware, Herts, 2013

The ‘Flying Scotsman’ Endurance Rally, the only one of it’s kind in Europe strictly limited to pre-war cars, is exactly what it sounds like. 106 pre-ww2 cars and their crews left Hanbury Manor, Ware (about 30 minutes north of London, England) to try and make it to Edinburgh (well, about 30 minutes north again to be fair) taking strictly the scenic route and involving some wonderful English/Scottish country driving roads with a route designed to spectacularly test car, driver and navigator. The latter being the most important of the lot. For those unfamiliar with the concept of vintage motorsport and/or navigation rallies I would summarise it with these three words: ‘jolly good fun’.

The queue for the 'start', Hanbury Manor, Ware, Herts

Our rally started off uneventfully as we left Hanbury Manor on the Friday morning. We had a lovely morning with the Brough cruising effortlessly on both navigational and jogularity/regularity sections. However, having not competed in motorsport for two years my navigational skills were a little crusty and I managed to lose us some time on the first jogularity section- timed to the second it was not ideal when a navigational error I made cost us valuable points. But at least we were able to start our rally without incident. Unlike some of our fellow competitors: The magnificent 1912 Chalmers was invisible in the plume of smoke it created as the driver pulled away from the start line whereas a fellow competitor in a Talbot running ahead of us pushed his car over the start line (with considerable assistance from the crowd) in order to get a start time, I guess it does matter how your vehicle crosses the start line does it? The spectacular 4.5 litre Bentley blower of Juergen Ernst created a scene however, refusing to start and backfiring through it’s supercharger worrying both it’s occupants and terrified anyone standing anywhere near it.

It was day two when things started to go a little sour for us. We departed from Macclesfield on time and had a fabulous regularity run, picking up mere seconds in penalty and completed two driving tests precisely and at speed when a distance error on one of the Widmor off road driving tests in Yorkshire tipped the scales downhill for us. Whilst lamenting the 2:47 penalty we had accrued and blamed each other for, both driver and navigator became aware of a low level vibration coming from the Brough whilst under power. And it was getting worse. Whilst accelerating hard up hill trying to make back some of the time we lost, there was a catastrophic vibration and clanking from underneath and we shuddered to a halt. You see, classic rallying does that to you. I call it Classic Motorsport Idiot Syndrome (CMIS). Normal people would feel such a vibration and stop to take a look as they realize they have a problem. But then again normal people do not thrash priceless vintage cars around military test sites undertaking auto tests timed to the second, competitively against each other either! Or do they?

Superb 1925 3 litre Bentley 'with patina', of Louise Cartledge

With the prop re-attached with help from the rally service crew and now accepting the fact that we were running late and not likely to win any medals we set off again, when we became CMIS victims again. We just never learn. The car started to sway like a pendulum just a few miles from the main control we were trying to book into at Gretna Green (our second night stop some 500 miles in). You see the driver is responsible for the car, not the navigator, and so I continued to instruct route and time to the driver who continued to drive. His problem not mine. CMIS again. I put the map and route book away when on of the rear wheels came off, overtook us and bounced into a parked car further down the road. The only accident reported on the entire rally apparently. CMIS again. Given that I had no navigating to do for a while I found two of the (damaged) wheel studs by crawling under innocently parked cars, borrowed the two that held on the spare wheel and with the help of a mechanic who was on his way home from work we jacked up the car- removed the damaged part of the brake drum that had carried the car for 50 yards down the street and welded itself to the back plate, re-attached the wheel and away we went. Try and do that with some of Detroits’s finest!

But the damage was done. The impact of the rear axle hitting the road had broken a rear leaf spring, broken two rear shackles and was causing the axle to float alarmingly- the right side rear wheel was catching on the body on left hand turns and as the day wore on we became increasingly aware of a metallic ‘chink’ with every turn of the prop. Subjecting ourselves totally to the trappings of CMIS David continued to drive and I to navigate as we slowly and gingerly completed the regularity and test sections of the day picking up penalty points in an effort just to keep us moving. The last 10 miles were particularly knuckle bearing as the cacophony of metal on metal noises seamed to amplify with every quarter mile.

1912 Chalmers being oiled before leaving Gretna Green

We arrived at Gleneagles, parked the car and enjoyed the elation of finishers in the bar and the glory of the prize giving dinner. Despite our mechanical problems we finished a highly respectable 42nd place with 40:02 seconds of penalty, about 20 minutes behind the race leaders (the winners were all around 18 minutes, just a few seconds apart). A considerable achievement but a long way behind our 13th overall place in 2009. After bidding our fellow competitors farewell the next morning we set off for Nottingham and less than a mile from the Gleneagles resort where we had partied the previous night, the rear axle failed completely and all drive was lost. ‘Because the car does not have a name apparently’.

Two weary travellers, David Moore and Jim Ellis, and their Brough Superior arrive at the Gleneagles, resort, north of Edinburgh to finish the Flying Scotsman, 2013.

Jim Ellis. May 3rd, 2013.

For more information check out the following link: http://www.endurorally.com/pages/flying-scotsman-rally-2013

The 2013 entry list:
http://www.endurorally.com/pages/the-flying-scotsman-2013-participants

For finishing results: http://www.endurorally.com/pages/flying-scotsman-2013-day3

Photo gallery, we were car number 46:
http://gerardbrown.photoshelter.com/gallery/The-Flying-Scotsman/G0000R9dZMoaQfcY/3/C0000VGsOOluOLD0

Photos: http://gerardbrown.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/The-Flying-Scotsman/G0000R9dZMoaQfcY/I00002SCeCAA8MAk/C0000VGsOOluOLD0


































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