2010 Club Events
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Stoneleigh Kit Car Show
- May 2010
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Weather forecasters have a lot to answer for. They can pretty much make or break an outdoor event. In the week or so leading up to the Stoneleigh May Bank Holiday Weekend all the forecasters were unanimous in their view that the spell of good weather was about to end, Sunday would be miserable but Monday would be a bit more cheerful. Every Speedster and Spyder owner could be forgiven for thinking, maybe Stoneleigh is not the place to be with an open car this year - and if we do take the risk, let's make it Monday. Which would lead to a complete reversal of previous years - no year-on-year breaking of overall attendance records and Monday beating Sunday as the top attendance day. So what did happen?
Heading up the motorway towards the Midlands on Saturday, in a motorhome full of display material, the sun shone on us from a clear-ish (!) blue sky. As we neared our destination the clouds started to gather but threatened little. Our large marquee had been erected by the usual local company and, after a spot of refreshment, we decked out the interior, set up the all-important kitchen area, arranged the tables and chairs and put up the banners to show who (and where) we were. Alone. Not another Speedster or Spyder owner was to be seen. Usually one or two appear on the Saturday afternoon/evening - indeed, we are sometimes greeted by enthusiasts who have arrived before us, usually from overseas. Such as the intrepid Udo from Germany. As daylight began to fade the clouds got darker, but we took our usual stroll around Stoneleigh Park and still not a Club car in sight. The rain started to fall
Sunday morning dawned wet and miserable. The sky was an unattractive shade of dark grey. In every direction. We finished breakfast without the traditional early morning arrival of Tech Guru Len. We peered out of the rain-lashed windows of the motorhome, across our soggy, empty pitch towards the equally deserted pitches of other clubs - and watched a few true enthusiasts re-erecting tents flattened by the overnight wind and weight of water on canvas. Then, out of the mists came the sound of familiar burbling. At least Len and Events Co-ordinator Tony had made it!
In fact Len had brought with him what almost amounted to a second marquee. Wife Anne had decided that he deserved some luxury while supporting such events and had presented to him on his recent milestone birthday what appeared to be a half-scale model of Buckingham Palace in a fetching shade of green lightweight waterproof material, held in place by a complex network of fibreglass poles. Most of these were intended to pass through colour-coded slots in the fabric, although several seemed intent on passing through un-colour-coded holes in Len and Tony as they 'helped' each other to erect The Big Top (as it became known) prior to its first night. Due to the weather, they thought it prudent to put it up inside the marquee - where, with some persuasion, it (almost) fitted.
Tony forsook his traditional comfy hotel bed this year to share a take-away with the peasants and a night pretending to be a Boy Scout. Although, to be fair, Anne had equipped The Big Top - which boasted several rooms, including servants' quarters - with every known bit of camping luxury, including the odd four-poster bed This, of course, was after the crowds (!) had left at the end of play on Sunday. Apart from this intrepid pair of campers others did eventually appear. Well done you! But we were about 65% down on previous Sunday attendances.
This didn't stop everybody from enjoying themselves and, during heavy downpours, playing 'Sardines' not only with fellow members but also the general public who dived into our marquee for cover. Hot broth, tea and coffee seemed to be the order of the day, rather than iced juices and wine which were returned home, unopened. The only Speedsters on show in the 'manufacturer' Halls were from Chesil and McGurk (US turnkey importers), with no Spyders at all which probably explains why the weekend was spent answering visitors' questions on both model types, so the combined market is still generating encouraging levels of interest. I believe the only time Len wasn't talking was in his sleep - although you'd need to check with Tony about that.
Vicki Butler-Henderson was Guest of Honour on the Sunday and we had hoped to persuade her to present the trophies for our 'Best In Show' event but, just as she was about to cross the internal roadway to our pitch, she was kidnapped by one of the show's sponsors and whisked away, never to be seen again! Monday's Guest was Tiff Needell, who none of us caught even a glimpse of, at all This year's Best Club Car was the (in)famous Intermeccanica Convertible D of Rob Jones, while the Highly Commended Award went to Neil Makin's lovely period cream Speedster. Although the Sunday attendance was disappointingly low compared with other years, the quality of cars on show certainly made up for it and gave everyone the opportunity to examine them all in great detail. We weren't the only club to suffer a low turn-out of course and the public attendance seemed well down on any previous Stoneleigh Show.
Monday, as the forecasters promised, was much better. And, to replace the record low attendance, we had a record high! About twice as many cars on show as we normally expect for the second day. It didn't stay entirely dry, but the showers were light and brief and very few. The Karmann Ghia coupé which joins us every year now boasts an almost complete restoration and has been repainted in pastel blue, a delight to see. This car had its original and very rusty body removed, to be replaced by an accurate fibreglass copy which would fool just about everybody. Also attracting attention was the headgear worn by Tanya and Dave Wray as they arrived in their deep pearlescent green Speedster California with the dramatic swollen wheel arches. This car was up for sale - and some of the pictures which they brought along to illustrate its lifestyle certainly attracted attention. Their headgear, by the way, was attached to the head restraints while the car was on display and photographed by Steve Hole to put up on his TKC Magazine website.
Our packed pitch on the Monday brought the crowds flocking in to admire what proved to be an impressive display, covering Spyders as well as Speedsters, including nearly all available versions of the latter. More orders were taken for the expanded Club clothing range and an encouraging number of members came along to renew their membership for another year. Thank you! Despite the dismal start, all those who attended seemed to thoroughly enjoy the event and even had a good laugh at Sunday's weather conditions. I guess you don't drive an open 'classic' unless you possess an outsize sense of humour!