Seren and Elise are the youngest all female historic rallying team, this blog is written by the girls about their first hand experience driving different classic and vintage vehicles on various road events throughout the UK and Europe.
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
The 1000 Mile Trial - Part Two, Edinburgh to London
Although the weather was a little grey and dismal, a much
appreciated lie in with a 10.30 am start and last nights amazing dinner onboard
the Royal Yacht Britannia kept the grins plastered on our faces.
A very short
link section took us to Whitekirk Golf Course which turned out to be an early
lunch stop, we were definitely not used to this relaxed atmosphere on an event.
When Elise clocked out of the lunch hall and ran out to jump in the car she
found that I was not in my usual ready state with the car running and pulled up
outside the door to meet her. This was due to the fact that a certain other
Austin 7 crew had emptied an entire basket of golf balls into the foot well of
our car. The gauntlet had been thrown!
sections were getting tougher with more plotting and greater opportunities to
make mistakes. A hidden turn just before a ford that took you over the bridge
instead caught a lot of crews out, and as it was a timing point, those who
turned around after the ford to get the control lost time and unfortunately
others missed it altogether. Elise called it and I was relieved not to be going
through another ford, we were just a few seconds late at that control.
was the setting for the afternoon coffee halt, which was used as Hogwarts for
the first two Harry Potter Films. Unfortunately we had to give the broomstick flying
a miss, but the scones, jam and cream were divine. A huge downpour just as our
time to leave approached resulted in two very drenched sisters heading south
towards Slaley Hall near Newcastle.
we were mostly the slowest car on the tests, in our class, but at this point we
felt it was more important to finish than push it. On the regularities we were
fine if the roads were flat dropping a handful of seconds at controls but if
there were any hills we had no hope and just tried to keep within the minute
(which was a struggle in itself). No wrong turns though.
Overall and Second in Class, we can’t believe that we have made it this far!
Hexham to Leeds
In the early hours of Thursday morning we plotted our revenge from
Day 4’s golf ball incident. With the hotels help we made a ‘just married’ sign
and stuck it to the back of Marcus Atkinson and Angus Forsyth’s Austin 7, then
tied some plastic bottles to the underside of the car. Hoping that they
wouldn’t notice either and perhaps be fooled into thinking the car was making
It worked perfectly! Completely unaware of the sign, or the numerous
spectators giggling, they drove straight to the mechanics as the “exhaust
seemed to be rattling” Although the bottles didn’t last for more than 100
metres, they kept the sign on all day. Worthy opponents and members of our Team
The afternoon Coffee Halt was held at the fantastic Bowes museum at
Barnard Castle. An absolutely fantastic setting and with all the cars parked
out the front it felt like a step back in time. It would have been very easy to
forget that we were on a rally, visiting these amazing venues and driving
However, the competitive elements were getting harder, the Byland
Abbey regularity was no exception with a hidden layby over a crest that concealed
a timing point followed by a right turn that looked like a drive way. Many
crews struggled on this regularity with even some top crews making mistakes. We
managed to go the right way but with the average speeds hitting 30mph in most
places we couldn’t quite keep up to time in our little Austin.
The day ended with two tests at Harewood Hill climb. It’s a long
circular test combining a downhill run before the hill climb back up and the
organisers and included various stops within marked boxes and cones to dodge.
With many more powerful cars behind us in the queue I was really worried that
they would catch us and I would hold them up so I asked if it was possible to
leave a gap before letting any other cars go. They had already come to the same
conclusion and gave us a minute and thirty seconds gap before letting another
car go which meant that no one caught us during the test. Phew.
A short drive, which should have been quite relaxing, soon became a
drama when on a short up-hill section the car died on us. Car 34 Paul Gregory
and Nick Savage were a few cars behind us and pulled in to check if we were ok.
Our first guess was, that without a fuel gauge in the car, we may have run out
of fuel. Having struggled, in first gear, up the hillclimb test twice we had
used a lot more fuel than we thought. To our utter amazement Paul and Nick had
a spare can of fuel in their car. We poured it into the tank but as we were
trying to start the car on a hill there was no luck. The only option was to
push her over the hill and drop start her in second gear. A huge thank you to
Car 34 for all their help I have no idea what we would have done if they hadn’t
Unbelievably we still had no road penalties and the car only needed
a quick oil top up. We can’t believe that she is still going!
Friday 18th July
Leeds to Towcester
The morning of the 6th
day we were greeted with ‘you are in trouble this time’. Both my sister and I
were confused, but when we looked outside we saw Little George (
the other Austin) covered in branches and a cleaning sign, we realised many competitors had jumped to conclusions thinking that we were playing a joke on our fellow team mates. Luckily for us, the
culprits owned up and confessed to taking Little George inside the hotel before
hiding it in front of the hotel. Very funny.
Just as we were about to head off down the
motorway, we were appointed a ‘Motorway buddy’ as it had become apparent that
we were too small and slow to be seen on such fast busy roads. We were
appointed Stephen and Colette Owens, who kindly drove behind us for the entire
motorway section (even when we went around the roundabout twice). A big thank
you to them.
Our first test was around a Kart circuit,
letting us pick up a little bit of speed, however, what we thought was fast,
was slow to everyone else as we were lapped on our second run around. Crossing the finish line, we were told that fuel was spilling out as
we went round corners and we thought we might have ruptured the fuel tank. That
meant engine off and a push around the corner to find out the problem. It was
soon clear that the fuel was pouring out from the cap when we turned corners-
now the only problem was we didn’t know how much fuel we had.
I was so excited about the next test as it
requires mental and physical concentration. The Jacob’s Ladder test looks simple, however with the route left blank for you to plot the fastest route, it can become
confusing. We felt we had a bit of an advantage with such a small car and we
were right as we ended up being the 7th fastest overall.
It was then time for lunch at Belvoir
Castle, and what a treat it was. The stunning castle could be seen for miles
and we weaved our way through the countryside, finally falling upon the Castle.
Dinning in such a grand castle with so much history made my day and there was
even the original motor from the family still in use. However, we didn’t have
long to take in our surroundings as it was time to test our fuel level with a stick,
as we had no fuel gauge. Luckily we hadn’t lost too much fuel.
The next test took place on the grounds of
Belvoir castle, however there was a long delay because a fairground ride was
making its way up the road. This meant we had an extra half an hour to enjoy
the views from the castle and do a spot of sunbathing in the sweltering heat.
Eventually it was our turn, the route guided itself through a forest
track to then open out for the final part of the test. A fantastic way
to start after lunch.
Regularity 6.3 was our best regularity so
far because the majority of our timings on the other regs were effected by hills. As we were now getting
further south, the land had started to flatten out. Over 4 timing points we picked
up 23 seconds as follows
Not a bad result for an Austin 7 and we
were so pleased with how little seconds we picked up. However, because of the
delay at lunch, we were now on our lateness at the beautiful Foxton Locks.Obviously the delay carries over, but because
we were so slow, we felt it was safer to press on to the next and final test of
The fast circuit test looked fantastic with
the sun shining and supporters lining the test. The test consisted of two laps
of the circuit in the fasted possible time. As there were no other classic
cars waiting, we were able to take our time around the test and have some fun. We
crossed the finish line with our faces beaming with delight as we had completed
the test in 2 minutes 16 seconds. It was then time to head to the hotel near
Silverstone where we would spend our final night.
Amazed with how far we had come in the
Austin 7, we arrived at the hotel placing 1st in class and 11th
overall. We still couldn’t believe we only had one day left and what a
penultimate night. As we sat outside with a rewarding glass of wine, a terrific
thunderstorm lined the horizon. I felt like I was abroad sitting outside and in
the distance a storm of rain and lighting raged on for our entertainment.
Towcester to London
final day began slightly wet and miserable but that didn’t
affect our moods at all. Excited yet nervous as just seven hours of driving
stood between us and completing the entire Thousand Mile Trial. Could we get
there without going wrong? Would we maintain our class position? But the
biggest question of all was if the car would make it. Without a doubt it was a
miracle that we had made it so far already but being so close to the end our desire
to finish was immense.
The first two tests of the day were slippery due to the rain. A
covered passage that we had to drive through on the first test caught out a few
crews as you could see the finish line before turning into the passage, an easy
mistake to make.
With the rain stopping and starting we had perfected our pit stop
change into our all weather gear and could complete it all and get going again
in under one minute.As we approached
London the weather began to clear up, by the time we reached Woodcote Park the
sun was shinning down on us.
Our mantra for the whole day was just to make it to the end. We were
so aware of the car and our surroundings, listening out for any knocks or
rattles that may impede our progress. Of course, we did have a little drama
just as we approached the final test. It was as if the fuel was struggling to
through (before anyone asks we had just filled her up) almost like the Austin
knew she was so close to the end.
The atmosphere at the start of the final test was incredible, with
just a downhill test to the finish line. Adrenaline and excitement was coursing
through our veins as we rolled to a stop at the finish line, completing the
1000 Mile circuit to Edinburgh and back in a 1934 Austin 7.
Completely thrilled to be part of such an incredible event and
amazed that we had completed it all. With the added bonus of finishing 11th
Overall and 1st in our class. What an achievement!
A huge thank you to everyone that made this happen, every single
one of you! Some experiences you never ever forget and you all made this
possible for us, we couldn’t have done it without any of you!