Race Retro - Stoneleigh Park
A 116-mile competition-free route through the Warwickshire countryside lay ahead for the 25 crews taking part in the Retro Classic Tour 2020. The weather wasn’t too great upon arrival for the eclectic mix of cars this morning, but after everyone had been signed on with a fresh cup of coffee from the HERO ERA stand, they made their way back out to their vehicles and were greeted by the sun breaking through the clouds and the rasp of Rally Cars making their way over to the Stages at Stoneleigh Park.
A few carefully positioned standard motorsport orange arrows would help navigate the way to the first Tulip Instruction, and a few short B Roads later our crews would be out on the open roads enjoying themselves. The morning’s 60-mile route was followed by easy to use Tulip Diagrams with Descriptive text and would lead the way to lunch at The Vale Golf Club. Typical of the back roads in this part of the country there were a variety of bridges and tunnels to use as landmarks in the Road Books, which helped our first-timers navigate their way through the countryside.
One of the cars attracting a lot of attention back at Stoneleigh Park was Jeremy and Arabella Welch’s ‘Safari Spec’ 4×4 Fiat Panda. A guilty pleasure for many petrolheads, this one would be getting a shakedown before it takes on the herculean Panda Raid. From Almeria to Marrakech, the 375 crews taking part will compete in seven stages divided into two classes. (2WD and 4×4) More Info on Panda Raid Here Known more famously for their work on Austin Healey rally and racing cars, Denis Welch Motorsport prepared the Panda in only four weeks as a late entry confirmation had almost destroyed all hope of the father and daughter duo getting a run on the event. So, if anybody was waiting for their Healey to be returned, you can probably work out why it has been delayed! At the lunch halt, it was also overheard that not only had the car been put together in a short amount of time, Arabella has her driving test a day before they fly to Spain to start the Panda Raid! From the whole team at HERO, Arabella, we wish you the best of luck!
Returning to the Retro Tour again was the Dolomite Sprint of John and Tracy King. After a successful first season in the world of Historic Regularity Rallying with both HERO and HRCR, the crew joined us with the Dolly for a competition-free day in order to bed in the new clutch needed after a DNF on HERO Challenge Two last year. John went on to say that after a recent mishap at Caerwent in the Porsche that they had hoped to be using today, he ought to check that the Dolly was up to the challenge again, just in case the 924 is not quite ready for the season ahead.
Adele and Ian Hunt joined us again with their Mini Cooper, this time with a newly fitted Brantz Tripmeter, showing clear signs that they would like to take their rallying to the next level. At the lunch halt, both Ian and Adele confirmed that they were interested in getting themselves signed up for the Novice Trial so that they can see what things are like when it starts getting competitive.
Paul and Sarah Share were out in their orange Porsche 914, a model not seen very often on HERO events, although there were two with us today. When asked at lunch how they were getting on, a confident Sarah announced that she was happy reading the map, so they were just out enjoying the day, giving the car a good run.
The HERO Arrive and Drive fleet were well represented on the Tour today. Tomasz Dzitko and Beata Siwek were out in the Porsche 911 2.0T, Victor Conceicao and Valeria Geo in the MG A Roadster, and Tsuguo Shintani and Sumiko Kokonno were out in the Golf GTi.
Visiting in their German registered 2016 Mini Cooper Works were newcomers to the HERO platform, Oliver and Elke Treutlein. Peking to Paris is the ultimate goal for this crew and they have signed up for a selection of events this year to gain as much experience as possible in readiness for the 2022 Motor Challenge. Speaking to the husband and wife team at the end of the day we were informed that they can’t wait to get started and confirmed again that we had received all their entries.
Another duo going for that Peking to Paris goal was Tom Moloney and Adrian Poulton, out today in an Aston Martin DB9, but keen to find the right car to fit the bill for their first stop on the Classic Marathon later on this year.
The most beautiful car on the Tour today, without a shadow of a doubt, was the Wartburg 353. Driven by Angus and Fynn Watt, the 1litre, 2 stroke engine ‘rung’ its way through the Warwickshire countryside as the father and son pairing enjoyed the 50 bhp beast, turning the heads of the locals who would undoubtedly not see one of the machines known as ‘Farty Hans’ or ‘Warty McWartFace’ ever again.
All the crews were invited back to the HERO ERA stand after the tour where they had a chance to unwind and share their experiences of the day. A thoroughly enjoyable day seemed to be had by all and HERO look forward to the 2021 Race Retro show and of course, The Retro Classic Tour 2021.
Photos by Tony Large