Sunday, 18 August 2013

Chilled time at the Gathering

Another year, another Retro Rides Gathering. This is the seventh year running for the event and its third at the impressive and picturesque Prescott Hillclimb. The show is just a one dayer centred around RWYB up the hillclimb and a static car show in the fields alongside. But that is selling it very short of the reality. At the start of the year my ticket was bought and the date booked off, fast forward to the friday morning and with a Camper loaded with cider, meat, magazines clothes I set off. I've not really figured out the best route to go, so followed the sat-nav and its M4 to Swindon route, the matrix signs soon ended that trip with the motorway shut, so I headed up the A34 and then down the lanes. Two and a half hours later and a little early (making the most of it) I rolled the Camper into its usual spot at the bottom of the hill.

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As penance for my early arrival (and because I like to put a little bit back in) I set to with a hammer and tape measure and helped Mr RR mark part of the show field out. With my time served it was back to the van, chair out, magazine and cider in hand and the wait for the rest of the campers to arrive, slowly they roll onto the field. Slowly the area around me filled up as the regulars and some newbies pitched up.

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After a disastrous M25 trip, the TAB crew finally pulled up, frazzled and weary. This years foul drink of choice was Humbug Vodka, surprisingly good when compared to the vile Werthers Original concoction of 2012!

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People spend a lot of time just wandering around the campsite, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. Our peace and quiet was shattered as Nightmares decided to drive round, his 600hp Pro Street Escort rumbling along. A lone lowrider bounced past the other way.

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Much nattering was had as BBQs were lit and meat munched.

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After several failed attempts to have a walk round, I finally broke free and did a bit of a lap, wandering back to the Camper at midnight to find the 7hr trip for some too much, they were snoozing under canvas. I quietly slid the door too and rested. Satruday dawned overcast but dry. One by one people emerged and tales of the evenings antics were told as bacon was cooked. I rustled up all the black pudding, bacon and sausages I had and fed a few.

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Leaving gazebo city behind, Brian and I set off for a lap, his back and lack of sleep needing a boost. There was even more variety and quality (as well as lots of shonk) around.

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Ben had been busily brewing in the lead up to the show, his beer list displayed for those that wanted a smaple.

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Stopping at the lowriders pitch, we looked over some vast American boats, if I had a drive long enough the green Lincoln would be mine!

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As we wandered between tents Brian suddenly gasped, hustling back up the hill and stepping over guy ropes I wondered what rarity he'd seen....a beige Talbot Alpine with trailer was the answer, it created much excitement by all we told and others went hunting for it!

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The Huxley drift Volvo with BMW V8 was another beast of a car, I'd been reading about the owners Toyota in  magazine an hour earlier, the article ended with mention of the car and here it was with its owner, happy to chat about the world of drifting.

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Nearby was the A52 pitch, a line of weird and wonderful cars, Bruce's Daimler is a little rough around the edges and the paint a little crazed, but its like a time capsule and smells like an old car should do.

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After a quick lunch I headed back up to the show field to have a look over some of the guest cars that were arriving. 1050hp of SWB Audi replica sounded evil.

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I did a bit more marking out then it was back to camp for cake and cider. And to discover that the beer fairy had delivered.

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The rain started to drizzle so I ducked in to James and Michelles palace and enjoyed an hour of beer and meat, fresh off the smoker. The company was good, and we chatted away.

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While waiting for my BBQ to get some heat in it. I foolishly stepped aboard a home built contraption. Once a ride on mower, it now had 11 horses out front and a wierd 5spd all or nothing transmission. The slow start was fine, gear changing a doddle and then all the power came at once. onlookers confirmed I did indeed have a foot of the rest with the wheels in the air on full opposite lock heading for a Mk2 Golf, luckily my vast driving skills and the fact my stomach weighs more than a ride on mower meant I got four wheels on the grass and stopped, averting disaster!

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Following a meat injection and more cider I headed to a growing crowd in the middle of the field. Hairymel, one of RRs own had recently lost everything in a lockup fire. Tools, cars, cameras and more had melted away. The community spirit of the forum had dragged all manner of tat out to be auctioned off, the money raised would never replace everything, but it would show that people cared and be the first step back. With Kev auctioneer on duty he rustled up the crowd and soon all sorts of stuff was going and the money rolled in. I ended up with an ex-Pollit t-shirt and DVD and by the end of the night almost £800 was in the tin.

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After a damp walk up to the clubhouse for a drink, we headed back to the gazebos for a natter until bedtime, once again it was an early night. A combination of the rain and the 8am start tomorrow.

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Sunday started sunny, a good sign for the show. The tidy up was quick, the gazebo, chairs and tat being lobbed in the back of the Camper along with a brace of full bin bags and an Adam! we headed up the hill with no issues, unlike those unlucky enough not to have an engine over the back wheels, and joined the queue to get in.

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Taking up my spot on the TAB and South stand, it was a Vauxhall/VW affair with added BMW and Pro Street Escort.

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I had a plan in my head. I wanted to see as much as possible and get at least one ride up the hill from somebody, so after a quick wander around the top area I headed for sign on.

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After a short wait I was tagged on to a briefing and got the all important wristband that meant I could sit in on some action. Then it was round the paddock. Once again the turn out of guest cars was top notch. From the Forge Golf to a Chaparral replica.

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With the runs about to start I hot footed it to the top hairpin, the run nearly killed me, but I made it in time for the mighty Audi.

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Not wanting to miss anything I headed back down to the orchard to see the rest of the show. The lines of clubs were impressive and offered so much variety as ever.

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With a rumbling tummy I nabbed a burger and watched from the start line.

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Back up the hill I watched the last few runs and guest cars before the low riders bounced up.

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Back in the paddock once more (I did a lot of walking!) it was awards time, with Bryn on the mic trophies for hardest slam, best steelies and many others were handed out. A Gathering shirt was also auctioned off for Hairymel, going for £100 the show crew matched that and the final total stood at £1000+

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With the afternoon sessions starting it was time to hop in my one and only ride. I'd been lucky enough to get the first trip up the hill for Marks Pro Street Escort. Its really meant to go straight down a strip, but it handled it surprisingly well, which is more than I did. Off the line the acceleration and noise was something else. 0-60 in 2 seconds, we blasted the straightish bits and coasted the corners. A ride not to forget.

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Buzzing I stumbled around for a while telling anyone who'd listen about it before composing myself and heading up the hill to try and get a shot from outside.

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With a shot of the car in action I was happy to start heading home. The long walk back to the camper was punctuated with goodbyes. Walking up the paddock the cars were getting their last runs in and people were starting to leave too.

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I slapped my sticker on to add to the others and climbed in. On the 2.5 hour drive home I pondered on another awesome weekend. Good weather (mostly) good company, good cars. Good times.

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