The HERO-ERA event 'Per Ardua Ad infinitum' ran on 19 December 2020. This event was organised on a very tight calendar as a one-day replacement to the yearly LE-JOG rally.
Such was the eagerness of teams to get the chance to compete, that there was a clamour for entries with people determined to blow 2020 out of their exhaust pipes in the last of five events HERO-ERA managed to run in that COVID affected year. Some took the opportunity to brush up on their navigational skills before the event, alongside others trying to acquire the skills, from Elise and Seren Whyte in their HERO-ERA Training Academy Webinars. An extra night had to added to cope with 94 people online!
The change of tiers affected some competitors being able to travel plus a few parts of the route which Guy Woodcock and his Competition team adjusted accordingly, whilst the rally was run in full compliance with Government and Motorsport UK COVID regulations. There were still 11 tests around the fast, tricky airfield sections of Bicester Heritage with all its surface changes, plus three challenging regularities to give the event its red code. The action promised to be ‘full on’... and it was!
The last-chance 2020 rally blast lured out the cream of regularity rallying, determined to make up for the lack of action and the inevitable postponement of the RAC Rally of the Tests and Le Jog. Starting and finishing in a huge aircraft hangar adjacent to the historic runway at host venue Bicester Heritage, 70 crews were grateful that HERO-ERA had managed, against the odds, to reroute and reorganise the rally according to new tiers within 24 hours.
Within COVID government and Motorsport UK regulations, all the crews were relieved to get out rallying and complied with the organiser’s requests to make themselves and their rally cars as festive as possible! Snowflake decals, mini Xmas trees on grills with lights, tinselled bumpers mixed with a mass of Christmas jumpers worn by drivers and navigators alike, creating a Christmas atmosphere.
Judges’ Comment: An object lesson in how to overcome and work around all the COVID 19 restrictions while providing a keenly competitive event with a distinctive festive spirit which was enjoyed by experienced and rookie competitors alike.
Personality (supported by NET-HERO)
This award seeks to recognise any individual who has made a truly outstanding contribution to heritage, historic motoring or historic motorsport during the judging period. The winner can come from any part of the British historic motoring world – private enthusiast, club organiser or perhaps a specialist who has achieved something remarkable.
Dougal, along with his company Longstone Classic Tyres, has been a great supporter and Sponsor of the Vintage Sports-Car Club (VSCC) for several years and despite the uncertain times during the pandemic his support never faltered, if anything it increased at a time clubs needed the most support.
It was the sheer force of Dougal’s personality that got the idea for the recently revived Light Car Race off the ground, a perfect counterpoint to the VSCC’s concerns that it may be too slow or too boring and also sponsoring the race via Longstone, which allowed competitors entry at a discounted rate.
The Club quite properly recognised the top three finishers in the results but the ‘unofficial’ Longstone result promptly disqualified them ‘for being too fast’ and awarded a champagne prize to the next three. Only Dougal could get away with it – much like the Vintage Top Gear videos he records from time to time.
Dougal has probably done more to promote vintage motorsport and youth participation that anyone in recent years. As well as offering general support and mentoring to all the younger members in the VSCC, putting his money where his mouth is, Dougal, through Longstone Classic Tyres, paid for all under 30s to have a second race at the Club’s only race meeting at Mallory Park in 2020.
Anyone who has met the larger-than-life front man will know that he is a lover and supporter of historic motorsport to his core.
Judges’ Comment: Dougal Cawley was selected for his support and never-ending enthusiasm for Vintage racing, for encouraging and cajoling the VSCC to bring back the Light Race and his generosity in supporting it and subsidising competitors, as well as financially supporting the younger VSCC members to race. Whilst the VSCC is full of great characters, Dougal and his racing family certainly stand out from the crowd and the judges felt Dougal deserved recognition for ensuring there is a next generation of historic racers.
In 2020 the Reverend Adam Gompertz became a digital rock for the historic automotive community on Facebook, creating the REVS Limiter community. Over the past year, he has not just maintained that position, he has built on it.
REVS’ ethos is summed up in the welcome Adam has posted for new members: “It’s great to have you with us – we really hope you feel at home here, a safe space to talk about the cars/bikes and other stuff with an engine that you love. It’s a place for those who are doing well and those who are struggling. It’s a place of stories, of people, of restoration and hope, of faith, though you dont have to have a faith to be part of this. All are welcome whether you are into Ferraris or Fiats, Astons or Austins, Lambos, Lotus, Lambrettas or Land Rover. Whatever your age, gender, whether you have a collection of cars, or just a poster on the bedroom wall you are welcome and its chuffing brilliant to have you here. ”
As lockdown restrictions ended, rather than REVS Limiter fading, it continued to grow. It now has more than 7,000 members and there are now three ‘real-life’ REVS groups – REVS Limiter in real time – with two more groups launching soon.
REVS Limiter now has a thriving YouTube channel with numerous videos covering a wide range of subjects from Robert Blakemore talking about the Le Mans Classic to a lengthy and lively debate between motoring journalists Matt Prior, Matt Saunders, Vicky Parrott, Alex Goy, Designer Nir Khan, publisher Richard Webb, and Adam about the ultimate hand for classic motoringTop Trumps.
New for 2021 is the Garagistas trading cards game, and REVS has embraced the opportunities presented by life starting to open up again. In September this year it staged the first REVS-Limiter Pilgrims Tour, travelling to ancient pilgrim routes in North Wales in their classic cars.
Judges’ Comment: From fund raising for Mission Motorsport to Mental Health Wellbeing, the multi talented Reverend Adam Gompertz isn’t just the Reverend of Bicester anymore he has become the minister for the classic automotive community! Following on from creating his digital community during lockdown in 2020, Adam has not rested on his laurels post-lockdown but embraced the release by staging a REVS-Limiter Pilgrims Tour. The judges felt Adam had gone above and beyond the extra mile of his job description, in continuing to work tirelessly to engage people with new ideas and bring communities together and help others. Adam is a very worthy candidate in the category.
Four years ago, when Richard Usher owned and managed Blyton Circuit, a man approached him to ask if he’d like to buy his 1989 Austin Maestro in mint condition with just 10,000 miles on the clock.
“My first thought was ‘no’, but it then got me thinking about when I last saw an Austin Allegro, Metro, original Mini, or even a Ford Cortina on the road. These were cars that were once on virtually every street in Britain and sold in their millions.”
The seed was planted and Richard, together with four private investors, set about amassing one of the largest privately owned collections of British designed and manufactured cars in the country.
It all came to fruition in this year when, after four years in the making, the UK’s newest visitor attraction Great British Car Journey opened its doors in Ambergate, Derbyshire in May.
There are many excellent car museums in the UK but Great British Car Journey is a little bit different.
As the title suggests , visitors are taken on an interactive journey celebrating an era when British entrepreneurs and engineers were at the forefront of a transport revolution. Specially-produced handheld audio devices give an audio commentary and pictures and guide the visitor through the decades as the cars roll out before them. QR codes provide further details on the display vehicles.
Along with Henry Ford in America , Herbert Austin and William Morris were the leaders who put the working population behind the wheel and gave us all the freedom of mobility which we now take for granted.
And there’s a twist – visitors can actually drive some of the cars from the museum’s collection…
Judges’ Comment: Richard Usher was shortlisted for this award not just for his unfaltering dedication to the classic car industry but showing bravery, determination and creativity with his new venture: The Great British Car Journey, the interactive museum. He has not only rescued and preserving a huge collection of Britain’s automotive history for future generations to come, but he’s done it without prejudice of how ugly or terrible the cars once were. The judges felt that it takes a special kind of personality someone with real vision to imagine a future child looking at an Austin Allegro as a thing of beauty and be inspired.
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