Breras to the fore at our April meeting night.
The George & Dragon’s car park: regularly filled with Alfas on our meeting nights.
Our team manning the gate at Spring Alfa Day were kept good and busy! (Special thanks there to Clare Addison, Mandy & Laura Nethercot, Martin Lindus.)
Neil Fairhurst’s S2 Spider among the cars at the Classic Car Night with the JEC in April.
CENTRAL & EAST MIDLANDS SECTION
Our Section members have been really active as part of the Club’s first two big Centenary events this year. For Spring Alfa Day at Burghley House over 15 of our ‘crew’ made sure it went as well as it possibly could taking on various roles from parking marshalling, issuing programmes and receiving entry payments to helping sign up new members and organising the trade displays. At York on 2 May, ten members were among the 100 displaying their cars on streets. We had a superb attendance of our local members at both of course, helping make both most enjoyable.
For Spring Alfa Day in April we couldn’t have had better weather with warm sunshine all day, making the parklands an even more delightful backdrop for the 360 plus cars present. Being in a natural bowl it allowed our directing team to readily coordinate model parking, which we know club members enjoy so much. In York, the parking was very much pre-planned, and worked to a tee. Shame about the cold however, but it certainly meant Danielle was busy in the club shop selling coats and the new fleeces in particular!
Both of these big events were different but equally good fun, as you’ll see in the forthcoming club publications. If you didn’t make it along, have a look at the ‘Looking Back’ page on our local website for some photos which will give you a good idea of what you missed!
April was particularly busy for our Section. A few days before Spring Alfa Day we had a great gathering at The George & Dragon in Thringstone, with close to thirty Alfas in attendance! These included Tim, Paul and Will over from Chris Variava Alfa in Nottingham; with them, a new 2.4 159 TI and the very first Brera 1750 TBi in the country (after a 17 week wait!). What a beauty that was in white with red leather trim and multi-spoke alloys. Though its ECU was not past the power-reduced 3,000 mile limit the car was still great fun to scurry along the roads as various of us enjoyed test-drives. The engine pulled superbly, with bags of low-end torque and a pleasing top-end growl, the car feeling noticeably more fleet of foot and eager to change direction than some versions I’ve driven. Clearly the weight-saving programme is working. Presumably the lighter again new Giulietta Cloverleaf with 235bhp from the same unit will be a firecracker!
Two days after Spring Alfa Day and we had another gathering, this time linking up with the Leicester Region of the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club at Beedles Lake Golf Centre in north Leicestershire for a classic car evening. A smaller attendance this time than last year (it was freezing cold!), but we enjoyed looking at the various cars assembled including a Replica 1930’s Auburn, a Lotus Elan Sprint and some gorgeous E-Types, not to mention our assorted Alfas and the other Jags of course.
So after all that Spring activity what’s next? Well our May meeting at the George and Dragon in Thringstone on Wednesday 12th is also Section regular Simon Addison’s 40th, so there are some surprises in store there. As it will be a lighter night we may well be having a bit of a twilight convoy run too…
On Tuesday 25 March it’s Karting time again. We are taking on our pals from the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club in a re-match team endurance event at the superb PF International Circuit near Brandon in Lincolnshire (in between Newark and Grantham). The track is a really fast out door one where the twin-engined machines can hit 60mph – and there’s an overhead gantry on the start finish straight which gives you the read outs! Great fun… Price is £32.50 a head, which includes race and practice. Please let me know as soon as possible if you’d like to go as spaces are limited and a £10 deposit is required. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sunday 6 June sees the AutoItalia Italian Car Concours at Stamford Hall, our local venue near Lutterworth. After last year’s thunder and lightning and general morning deluge, we are hoping for much more clement weather. As many as 400 Alfas could attend this year, given 250 did despite the downpour last time, plus the usual array of Ferraris, Maseratis and assorted exotics, Fiats and Lancias of course. Do make a beeline for our Section Shelter when you get there, which will be near to the AROC Shop and the Club van. Alfas are expected to park in the same vast area as last year, i.e. to the right hand side of the main entry road and beyond the trees. It should be a very enjoyable day out again; entrance is £10 per person and the fun starts from around 9.30am.
Our gathering on Wednesday 9th June at The George & Dragon promises to be one of the best ever given our attendances so far this year – weather permitting of course. Our annual Fun Concours competition will be held in the grass paddock area at The George & Dragon on the A512 Ashby road near Thringstone, Leicestershire, starting from 7pm. Now if it does rain hard we will postpone to the regular July evening, but it drizzled last year and STILL 25 Alfas took part!
Unlikely Taxis at York; Dave Atkins’ Giulietta Turbo Delta
and Ian Osborne’s 164 QV
Thanks go to our friends at IntaServices and EngineServices again for sponsoring our prizes, and our friendly local dealers maybe throwing in some too! The usual format will apply; all Alfas attending are automatically entered, and everyone gets a voting sheet to choose their favourite cars against different categories, from shiniest paint to filthiest wheels! Everyone is in with a chance of a prize. We are also looking forward to the local Autoglym franchise being in attendance on the evening, armed with their excellent car detailing/polishing products at very special prices. Do make sure it goes in you diary now.
At the end of June many of us are off to Milano for Alfa Romeo’s big celebrations. If you are planning to go do have a safe trip, and make sure you give me your mobile number so we can get together along with all of our fellow AROC brigade. It should be quite superb! If you can’t go, fear not, there are plenty of other excellent UK Centenary activities to look forward too, including our own MITCAR event at Chatsworth House on Sunday 8 August.
To get the very latest info on what’s happening in our Section, please see our local website www.aroc-uk.com/cemids.
The beginning of the year unfortunately started quietly, with the January meeting being cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. For some strange geographical reason Brentwood always seems to get the worst of any weather going, and as usual the snow over there was deeper than anywhere else! February was similarly quiet, the evening being spent catching up for the missed January meeting by discussing ideas of things that Section members would like to be planned for them over the coming year.
March saw us try something new by way of replacing our traditional Guest Speaker night with an evening based on the tv show “Arguemental”. The Section split into 2 teams, which by shere co-incidence roughly equated to the “Italians” vs the “English”. We had a team of international judges – well, one Italian, one British, and our very own impartial German (Patrick) who all did an excellent job of deciding with a show of hands who they thought had presented the most convincing argument. A variety of topics which were all chosen at random from 2 pieces of paper drawn from a hat. (A “for” and an “against” scenario were presented for each round.) The hilarities began when the wholly English Team of Robin Rands, Dave Taylor and John Church had to convince the judges over 4 rounds that English cuisine was the best, F1 was the best form of racing, a Coupe is a better car to own than a Spider and that the British are the safest drivers in the world.
To counteract this, the “Italian” team of Marco, Norman, Felice and Keith had to fight the corner of Italian food being the best in the world, Road racing being a superior form of motorsport, a Spider being better than a Coupe to own, and everyones’ favourite – that Italian drivers are safer than the British on the roads. I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that their convincing point about being too busy chasing and chatting to beautiful women to go out driving on the road (and therefore be possibly involved in an accident) won them both the last round and much laughter, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to win them the entire championship on the evening – the overall score being 8 votes to 4 against them.
Robin Rands is the new Peter Raymond Trophy Quiz Champion for this year.
Keith & Fliss Gidley bought along their very tidy and personal-plated 156 to FBHVC Drive-It Day
After such a noisy March meet, April saw us force ourselves to concentrate a whole lot more and to be in a much quieter frame of mind. Last years’ winner, Ken Carrington, traditionally becoming the Quizmaster for this years’ brain-stretching Peter Raymond Alfa Romeo-based quiz. Many thought that they were off to a flying start when such questions as “in which year was this trophy first contested” and “when is Alfa Romeos’ actual birthday date?”, but then soon became increasingly taxed and tongue-tied with the answer to “what does the “S” in JTS stand for?” Even Felice or Vic (who are Italian AND mechanics) could not explain or translate the meaning stoiciometric! (Not even too sure if I’ve spelt it correctly, but I couldn’t even find it to check the spelling on the web!) It soon became apparent that most peoples’ area of expertise or knowledge was based on the model of Alfa that they owned – Patricks’ face lighting up when at last a question about the “series type number” of the 155 was asked, enabling him to gain a precious few extra points to add to his score. The eventual tie-break question had to be asked to separate joint equal winners of Stuart Taylor (who was over in Essex and gate-crashing from H&SB as usual!) and the Essex Sections’ very own Robin Rands. Stuart tried to easily slip out of having the honour of setting next years’ trophy by saying that it couldn’t possibly “go back over the country line” to Hertfordshire with him, but he eventually lost anyway as he didn’t know the year that the Essex Wine circle was started.
A very mistily damp and soggy “FBHVC Drive It Day” at the end of April saw only a very few people turn out at Ashwells to drive out in search of classic cars also on the roads. If honest, only one of our cars could be probably classed as a borderline classic, but we still made the effort and found some enjoyable mischief to get up to! After a brief planning meeting it was decided to head north towards Ongar and then onto the A414 towards North Weald air base. We happened to see a few MGBs and the odd Sunbeam also out and about, but not too much other exotica on the roads with us. At North Weald we avoided the Sunday Market in favour of the “Greenbelt Motorsport Sprint” timetrial event that was being run over the dis-used airfield track. Surprisingly enough the Ferraris and Porsches running didn’t make anything like the enjoyable noises that the XR2 and Vauxhall Nova made when flat out on the initial half mile straight of track. The damp mist added to the excitement as a good few spun 180 degrees when taking the distant coned bend a little enthusiastically, although luckily this was the extent of the damage and nothing too much more serious was done. When the trial broke for lunch we too followed their lead with a very enjoyable pub meal at the “Merry Fiddler” in Coopersale near Epping, and since it appeared that there would not be much more to see on the roads we called it a day. Typically the sun came out in the afternoon, as did a few more classic cars. Too bad you can’t ever book the weather!
Our most recent Ashwells meet saw us initiated into the art of car cleaning the Autoglym way. Many thanks are due to “Autoglym man” Grant who travelled to Brentwood with his “Aladdins’ Cave” van load of car-cleaning goodies and to give us hints and tips on how to get our Alfas ready and looking their best for the coming season’s events. Although Grant had come a fair distance in order to do this, the prize must surely go to John Timpany who has returned for a short holiday in the UK…from Queensland Australia, and he stopped by to say “Hello!” It was lovely to have long-term member Joan Green make the treck down from north Essex, and also to see Martin Webb once again, along with all of the usual regulars. Martin was grinning widely as he was allowed out on a late pass having been relieved of his work doing 4am swimming pool cleaning duties the following day. Another very welcome and notable re-visit, from someone unfortunately seldom seen these days, was made by Captain John “Birdseye” Ridgway. It was good to see you all, and your making the effort to come to the meeting was appreciated. From the demonstrations that Grant did we all learnt a lot about how to get the best finish on our cars, and a good number of the Section followed the “Autoglym diet” (we lost alot of pounds that Wednesday Night!) Norman benefited from having his bonnet used as the demo vehicle for Grants’ use of the products, and so all he needs to do now is to finish the rest of the car!
It’s that darn Alfa Romeo 850T5-R again!! (Sorry folks, one day I’ll manage to keep an Alfa on the road without it breaking down….)
Last years’ postponed Fish & Chip Run was finally completed on Sunday. As a result of the ill-health of the various key Section members involved in the organisation of this run, it was decided to cancel it when it was originally scheduled last August. We got there in the end! Robin Rands was unfortunately still unable to compete in the event that he had so carefully planned out for us, having only just come out of hospital again a day or two before we did the run. Instead, Ken bought all of the tulip plan instructions and photocopied road map pages to the starting point of AMC at Chelmsford. 10am start, and off we set!
Most people were lucky enough to have a co-driver (or two!) in their car to facilitate the navigational part of the day and enable them to concentrate on their driving, but my 8 year old passenger declared that she wasn’t willing to assist in any way and I was forced to rely on a combination of local knowledge plus luck to keep our bearings and us heading in the right direction. After being lulled into a false sense of security and thinking that the route was to be an easy one, the further north through Halstead and Sudbury we went, the tighter, more rural and narrower the roads became. There is always a degree of self doubt that occurs, and it is disconcerting to see a fellow rally-driver heading in the opposite direction to yourself. That is exactly what happened when I saw the newly restored GTV of Simon Carlsson Browne heading towards us at the lights in Leiston. The second antipodean contingent of the Essex Section also happened to be passing through (as you do!) on holiday from their other home in New Zealand, and so Ron and Andra Smith joined the fun and met up with us at our final Flora Tearooms destination at Dunwich. The many fried calories consumed were threatened to be worked off with an enthusiastic walk along the beach. Unfortunately all we could muster the energy for was a stone-skimming competition instead. With the anticipated rain holding off, a good day was had by all.