BRISTOL MOTOR CLUB
Graham also joined the Bristol Motor Club, and for the next four years or so we enjoyed a relaxed schedule of competition in sprints, both those organised by our club, at Colerne, Llandow and Castle Combe and others around the South West – Bovington, Dunkeswell and Chivenor.Graham had marginally less experience than me, but he was a quick learner and, although neither of us set the sprinting world on fire, after a couple of seasons he regularly showed me a clean pair of heels. We obviously relished being able to drive at uninhibited speed round a sprint course, but spending a day out with like-minded enthusiasts was equally enjoyable, and we’ve found good friends through membership of the club.
I gradually become more and more involved in the running of the club, taking over the magazine and website, the role of Membership Secretary, and assisting with running the first ten years of AutoSolo. Paul Parker introduced this American idea into the UK in 2004, making Bristol MC a trail-blazer in this field. Now it has become the entry-level motorsport discipline throughout the UK, and almost every motor club now runs their own AutoSolo events. There is more about all this on the BMC website.
I had to take a short break from active motorsport in 2003 to have heart by-pass surgery, after which I felt that I no longer wanted to be responsible for the maintenance and repair of a competition kit-car. I wasn’t keen to give up sprinting though, so in 2004 I sold the Cyclone to fellow club member Tony Streeting: here is a short video of him hillclimbing in it.
I bought a Lotus Elise, a car with an undisputed competition pedigree, that could also be maintained by a Lotus dealer.The car was always an absolute delight, to look at as well as to drive, and Graham and I continued sprinting as before with similar levels of pleasure and success – or otherwise!
The club was looking forward to its centenary in 2011 and at the end of 2010 I found myself being elected as chairman. Paul Parker had expressed a wish to stand down after ten years in the post, and I was very keen to get involved in the centenary celebrations that would inevitably follow.
I also felt that I had probably reached the point where I was never going to be competitive in motorsport, and faced with what was clearly going to be a busy organisational year I was very happy to pass the Elise on to Graham, so that he could continue sprinting when he wished. (Whenever that may be!)
Angie and Tony Streeting relieved me of the AutoSolo secretary job, and Paul Hemmings and Zoë Tooth took care of the Membership Secretary. There was also no shortage of volunteers to help with the centenary project: Mark Tooth chaired the organising committee, and our very successful party at Castle Combe in June was followed by a memorable celebration at Dyrham Park in October. Most of this is documented on the BMC website.
I said at the outset that I would serve as chairman until my 70th birthday, so at the AGM in 2013 I handed over to my successor, Matt Nichols. The club has thrived under his leadership, whilst I have been happy to occupy the role of Club President. In that role I rather pick and choose what I can do to help (within the limitations of age and CoVid!) and I’m kept in touch with what’s going on through long-standing friends.