Photography by Will Broadhead
Race Retro returned to Stoneleigh Park with a bang after three years away, attracting an estimated 22,000 visitors over three days.
With a mix of live rally action and great exhibits in the showground halls, crowds of historic motorsport enthusiasts were queuing each morning waiting for the doors to open at 9.30 am.
HERO-ERA Chief Operating Officer Federico Göttsche Bebert commented: “It was great to see so many historic motorsport enthusiasts, many came to see us, and the stand was packed. They are just so just passionate, it’s great that historic motorsport is alive and well. It was wonderful to see people coming together after the pandemic and we were very happy to notice a lot more younger faces with us too.”
With the stand and show buzzing with historic motorsport enthusiasts, and some already HERO-ERA customers, the team were also able to introduce new people to regularity rallying. They are converts or newbies which is why the company also run navigation classes at the show to either help ease them into the sport or convert them. Some groups wanted to brush up on their navigational skills so with three one-hour sessions on Saturday, they benefitted from the last course which was for the more difficult level. Seren Whyte, HERO-ERA Event Manager and both top driver and navigator, was at the helm with her championship event-winning sister Elise Whyte. They are the best in the business and great teachers, very patient!
HERO-ERA have tracked people who have started as absolute beginners at Race Retro with navigational classes, as they progress through the sport. For example, Alistair Leckie and Matt Outhwaite are back-to-back HERO Challenge Championship champions and they started as newbies at Race Retro just three years ago, plus Alistair arrived yesterday for a refresher course!
Around 60% of the attendees at the navigational classes went on to compete in the Retro Classic Tour which ran from Stoneleigh Park on Sunday. 25 cars covered a great midlands route as crews attempted to put their freshly learned navigational skills into practice.
Mike Hodder and Craig Preston
Craig “They were incredibly detailed, very informative, a little taxing at times, but I think it probably gave us a good idea of what lays ahead. A lot to take in. In the amount of time, we spent in here you can only expect to take in a small amount, but it’s a good start.
“I’ve agreed to be the navigator for the Three Legs of Mann event and it’s my first event ever, so the baptism of fire started with this stuff this afternoon. I think today revealed all things I don’t know, so I am somewhat trepidatious about going into the event, but at least I’ve got a start and I’ve got a basis of what we’re going to do, also some further study.”
Mike, “I think the main thing you take away from it is just how much learning we’ve got to do. it’s mind-blowing.
Dawn and David Hewitt
It’s informative, yes, but my brain hurts now. It’s a lot to take in but hopefully, I’ve taken something from it and will remember tomorrow.
David. “We’re currently having our Austin Healey worked on, it’s not ready to go, so we’ve got an Audi Three, but it’ll be fine. It’ll cope with it, no doubt.
“We’re new to the whole thing so we will start easy tomorrow. I’ve done the Novice Trial with my son, so we’ll move on to the bigger events later in the year, I think!”
Dawn and David commented after the Classic Retro Tour was finished; Dawn, “It went well. I didn’t get lost. We didn’t get lost once actually, the instructions were really clear, so it wasn’t scary, I am very proud of myself”.
David; “Yeah, pretty good. I’m tired though after all that, but we didn’t argue. We didn’t get lost. It was a successful day, so definitely we want more, we may even make the Summer Trial!”
Took part in the last navigation course, which was the most complicated one. Did he think it had sunk in?
“I hope so. I think so. Yes. This was me just trying to move up to the next level. It was interesting, there were some new bits to look at and think about, and the way in which the instructions are given for the different red and black events compared to the green and blue events. In the future, I’d like to do the tests and possibly do the Marathon. The Monte Carlo one too!
“It really went well. Everyone seemed to be absorbing the information, it is a lot, but we give them everything they need to go rallying, they might not need it all straightaway. You do get some people that are sort of a bit’ Wow, this is a lot,’ but hopefully at some point during their rallying, they’re going to go ‘Ah, I see what they were saying now!’
“I’ve really enjoyed speaking and engaging with everybody. I think they enjoyed it and took a lot away from the courses.”
Seren; “My top three key messages were, go the right way, and then stay within your allowed time and always be prepared.”
Elise: “Yeah, so prepare before the event starts. Go through your paperwork, go through your books. Read everything and be prepared.”
HERO-ERA policy is to try and attract younger competitors and introduce newbies to the sport, funnel them and take them as high as they want to go. Does Seren see this as the beginning of the road?
“I definitely saw that today. You can see that people are coming here, they know nothing before they come in here. Some of them, maybe have a classic car and have never even taken it out for a tour. So, we’re starting right at the beginning. We’ve got a tour tomorrow, a lot of them are taking part in that. So, they’re trying the navigation they learned today, and then they’re going to take it further and try a rally and see where that goes. We’ll be there every step of the way.
“We’ve got more training throughout the year online and events specific. So, as they go through, we can give them more and more information. But yes definitely, this is the start of that journey.”
Thomas Proulx and Theo Bradley, SAAB 99.
Thomas, “We had a good morning, lots of pleasant roads. We got crossed up once but my expert here, Theo, got us back on track very quickly. So yeah, very good learning experience, though.”
Theo “Great. the road book is clear and complete as it was really nice. We did get lost once but that was mostly our own fault!”
Thomas, “We went to the first and second seminars on the navigation and timing courses yesterday as we’ve only done one navigation event before, and it was absolutely brilliant, we may do some more.”
Jonathan and Evan Martin, Austin Healey 3.0 litre
Evan, “We did well, most of the time. We only went wrong once when I wasn’t quick enough. So, I think we were covered. It’s difficult to look backwards in the Healey, forward is just fine you just try to turn your head and see, but we really enjoyed it.
Jon, “We did two of the courses because Evan has never done any of this before. I’ve done lots of rallies over the years both navigating and driving, usually with my wife, but she has kind of given it up as a bad job. And so I thought, right, it’s time to get the younger generation in so we both came into the tutorials yesterday, the basic one, and then the more advanced, on timing. I think it was really good to understand what it was like, so the next step is to do an event with some timing. Then we’ll see how we get on juggling the two things together.
“The Rally for the Ages in June sounds like a great event, especially now we know you get a free entry if you start with the combined crew age of under 70. That’s fantastic.
“Evan did his Duke of Edinburgh Award and through that, he did a lot of navigation with maps and that sort of thing. So, I know he’s actually a pretty good map reader. So that’s the next step.
Philip Woodfield, 1969 Rover 2000 P6 SC 19
This car was family owned from new. It went to my father who unfortunately died soon after, I’ve had it since 1995. But the interesting thing is that it was stolen in 1976 in Tamworth, it was used in a bank robbery in Liverpool. So I was put on the insurance to fetch it back in the hot summer of 76.
“I remember doing the London to Brighton, and the guys were quite interested, and they called it the ‘Bank Job P6!’
“This event is fantastic. I always wanted to be involved, I always thought it was above my capabilities but with good training and help it makes a big difference. So we’re starting with this and then we’re going to go on to Summer Trial, and before I leave this earth I want to do LeJog!
“The event has been so really well organized, a great bunch of people, and quite interesting to be following the great champion, Paul Crosby!”
Brian and Hunter Aitkin (USA) Hunter is the youngest ever navigator on a HERO-ERA event at four years of age. Porsche 911 3.4 CR
Brian was heard instructing four-year-old Hunter with the road book, pointing to tulip diagrams before they restarted the Retro Tour after lunch.
‘Remember this book is to help us get to all the different parts, right? So straight and what’s that? Right. And then it’s up but kind of to the left about this one is number five. That’s right, well done Hunter!’
Brian was asked to reiterate that his son was just four and asked how was he doing?
Brian; “He’s doing great and I’m loving it! I tried to finish the classes yesterday, but we got sucked into the auction. Now we have a fun Quattro too!
Guy Woodcock, Competition Director, HERO-ERA
“We find that the training and this tour as part of the Race Retro show itself gives us a great stepping stone for new people who come and look at what we do. We’ve had people starting at Race Retro and then going right the way through to compete on LeJog. Some are them have even been thinking about the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge.”
“Alistair Leckie and Matt Outhwaite are prime examples of a crew that started here at Race Retro three years ago and then won the HERO Challenge Championship twice in back-to-back years.”
Alistair, who normally drives, was noticed on the navigation sessions on Saturday, Guy explained what was going on.
“They’re swapping seats for this year, so Alistair is going to navigate in 2023, that’ll be an interesting dynamic I would have thought in the car.
“The show has been great for us; it was really busy on Friday and Saturday. It was reasonably busy on Sunday morning as well, but we have been signing up lots of new members, with people making lots of event enquiries, but just generally interested in what we’re doing.”