Following the disaster I had traveling to last years National rally, I was still quite looking forward to this one and indeed my first National rally with Lucie, my 1961 Reliant Regal Mk VI van. The past two years have seen torrential rain for the rally though this year the sun came out and stayed out.
The rally was in Bromsgrove which was about 42 miles away from me and whilst not a vast distance, given what happened last year, I decided rather than drive Lucie there that I would take her on the trailer. After Caroline finished work and after a spot of lunch, we loaded Lucie onto the trailer, packed the tent along with a few other items and off we went. Both the M42 and the M5 were clear and so it was a soothing drive just traveling along at 60 mph and not even feeling that the trailer was behind me. It was about 3:45pm when we pulled into the rally ground and just as we did my brother phoned me asking, “Where are you?” and then a few seconds later spotting us the other side of the field, and what a bumpy field it was.
Camping fee paid, Lucie unloaded and tent erected in a little corral created by Pete, Dee, Michelle and Geoff, we grabbed our cameras and went for a stroll saying hello to folks. There had been a crowd around New Blue as Geoff with a crowd of other folks had been trying to get her going as James from CHGPerformance brought over numerous new parts to illiminate all possible faults, within a short while she was starting up again instantly with a turn of the key. After a short walk, we returned to the tent and there was Wilfried’s 1952 Reliant Regent next to Lucie and on the bonnet two bumpers made from fibreglass that Wilfried had created for me. The Regal Mk 6 should have quarter-sized chrome bumpers on the front though they have been impossible to source. Wilfried has one and so taking a mould made a set of fibreglass ones for me to fit rather than have none at all. I was over the moon with them. Along with Wilfried, who had driven from the Netherlands, was Thomast who wanted to take a few photos of Lucie and so whilst he and his friend jumped into their Reliant Sabre, we followed them in Lucie to a scenic spot at a nearby canal for a bit of a photo shoot.
Come the evening there was a live band on and so everyone headed over to the club house. The Guinness flowed smoothly and was actually a superb pint and so I sat there quite content watching folks dancing and a crowd of R3W folks launching whistling balloons into the air that would fly along as they deflated, squealing as they went. A few pints of Guinness later and it was time to retire for the night.
Bright and early next day, we grabbed our towels and got a few steps from the tent when we were informed that if we wanted a shower there was only cold water. The facilities were a tad archaic though worst for the ladies as whilst there was three toilets for the chaps, they had to fight over just one. So, a cold wash later, we returned to the tent and was then invited to have breakfast with BigDaddy and Micromamma who were busy cooking away for people. That was scrumptious and much appreciated.
The sun was really beaming down and following the opening ceremony mid-morning, just got hotter and hotter. For the morning, all Reliants were lined up and there was quite an impressive display of both 3-wheelers and 4-wheelers from a 1952 Reliant Regent up to a 2001 Reliant Robin BN1. Amongst all the Reliants was also a DNK 3-wheeler of which I have not seen one in the flesh before.
Once the judging for Car of the Day had taken place I decided to have a go at the maneuverability contest. Firing up Lucie, I paid my 50 pence and then listened to what it was I had to do. The course changes year to year and the competition is run by the winners from the year before. In this case it was my brother Geoff along with Pete and Kerry from the Telford branch. The first part of the course was to drive through some chicanes. For a small Reliant 3-wheeler there was plenty of space and so I drove straight through without the need to slow down. Next, without stopping, you had to stick your arm out of the window and place a solid dog ball on top of a traffic cone. As I drove passed, I slowed down, placed the ball on the cone and thankfully it didn’t fall off and I didn’t stop. Then you drive the vehicle centrally into a roped area and then reverse into another and the distance is measured each side. (The distance needing to be equal). After that, you need to reverse park into a roped area and then reverse up to a plastic stake, getting as close as you can without hitting it. On both maneuvers I could barely see a thing as visibility at the back or side of Lucie is almost non-existent so I was quite amazed to park just one inch away from the stake. From there it is back through the chicanes and the task is done. Later on I also tried it in my Jaguar though the width of it just about fitted through the chicanes hitting two of them and I didn’t squeeze it into the reverse parking area without touching the canes. Placing the ball on a cone was OK and reversing up to the stake was the easiest bit as I had the tow bar attached which I know sticks out 7 inches so when the sensors indicated I was 8 inches away from the stake, accounting for the tow bar, I knew I was about an inch away. Again on the way through the chicanes, one of the canes rubbed against the side of the car. I wasn’t going to score well with the Jaguar.
By now the sun was beating down and thirst increasing, so seeking shelter we returning to the club house and getting a cold drink we sat in the shade for a while with Micromamma and Terry O’Keefe.
Come the closing ceremony the sun was still rather strong and so as Lucie was parked near the presentation area, we just sat in that for the awards and I was amazed to learn that I had won the maneuverability contest and so went up to collect a trophy. Shortly after Lucie also won the Rescued class and so I was back up to collect another trophy. This one was great as I last won it in 2006 with Ole Blue. Following this Lucie came third in the Regal class and then won another trophy for being the oldest Reliant at the show, last year my brother won it with Old Red (A 1949 Reliant 7cwt van). Technically Lucie wasn’t the oldest on the day as Wilfried had a 1952 Reliant Regent though he did not enter the competition. Later I then discovered that me and Kerry had also come joint first and won a trophy for the individual with the most points on the day. Geoff, with Pete and Kerry also won the maneuverability contest again.
After the awards, suddenly there was a photo shoot of all R3W members cars and so mayhem ensued as everyone tried to park the vehicles into a semi-circle for a photos shoot.
Shortly after that, Caroline and I packed up and loaded Lucie onto the trailer and after saying goodbye to folks, enjoyed a nice drive home, packing away the trailer and parking Lucie back into the garage. It was a great weekend.