(Rally Secretary's Report)
On the day of the Run I woke at 4.00 a.m. to hear the patter of rain hit ting the bedroom window and my heart sank. The previous day when I drove up from Wiltshire to Bromley, the weather had been glorious and I had been hopeful of good weather for the Run.
When I arrived in Bromley on Saturday afternoon, Brian Foord and I went up to the Crystal Palace Park to mark it out and get the Start set up
but as it was such a lovely day, the Park was full of young people playing football and sunbathing, we decided to leave it. If there had been an inci dent using our stakes and ropes, we would be held responsible.
While we were there the first Austins began to arrive. The very first person to arrive was another Brian Ford and his wife, from Sussex, together with a couple of chaps from the Isle of Wight. The standing pipe was already in place, as were the portaloos and as they started putting their tents up and more people arrived, it soon looked like a little tent village.
On Sunday morning, Brian and Carole Foord and my wife Susan and I, all arrived at the Crystal Palace Park at 7.30 a.m. as the rain was just petering out. Already there were quite a
few cars and I coerced some of the lads into putting up the "gazebo" tent so that Susan could start the booking in, while Brian, Carole and I set out the starting area. The gazebo did not seem straightforward to erect and it took a few minutes for us to realise that, although brand new, there was a pole missing. These intrepid chaps, being Austineers, did not falter, they just lashed together two pieces of timber to make a pole and assembled it anyway. Many thanks chaps, you saved us a lot of time in getting set up.
Dave Simpson and Sid Dennis arrived in their cars ready for the Run and when they saw the build-up of cars on the Terraces, they parked up and set about organising the lining up of the cars ready for the start at 9.00 a.m. The chuck wagon arrived during all this and began dispensing very wel come hot cups of tea and coffee and I must say, the smell of bacon cook ing in the fresh air was rather good. Although we hadn't asked for it, an ice-cream van turned up as well. I don't know if anyone bought an ice cream at that time in the morning, as it was a bit cold and blowy.
The Run started dead on time at 9.00 a.m. Everything went well until about the 20th car through the starting gate caught the framework with its rear wing and knocked it all down on top of the roof. We lifted it off the
car and fixed it all up again and the bemused entrant drove straight off. A special vote of thanks to Gordon Phillips who drove all the way from
Gloucester just to see the start and who, together with another gentleman, helped directing the traffic at the Anerley Hill entrance to Crystal Palace Park, ensuring our cars had a smooth getaway and that there were no mishaps with other driversusing Anerley Hill.
All the cars got away in record time and by about 10.00 a.m. it was nearly all over, and then a huge trans porter arrived from Wales carrying about 6 Austins. They unloaded, booked in and away they went with their Welsh flags flutteringin the breeze. Unfortunatery two of them broke down, but they did all eventually make it to Brighton. Well done. In fact 99% of the 300 plus cars that set off from Crystal Palace made it to Madeira Drive, Brighton.
We packed everything up and zoomed off to the halfway stop at the Granada Services at Pease Pottage on the M23/A23 where Rosie and Neil Benfield, together with their daughter Gemma and friend Alan Steele were doing a grand job, booking all the cars in.
When we arrived there must have been about 40 Austins enjoying a break and although the weather was sunny and bright by that time in the late morning, when the Benfield entourage had first arrived in the morning it had been misty, wet and cold. So very many thanks to them for hanging in there and staying until the last starters had been through.
We passed several Austin Sevens on the way to Brighton and I must say, they looked really good. On arriving at Madeira Drive the area was all set up and being manned by Bob, Linda and Ron Willis, ably assisted by Peter Hill and Bryan Read. Bob's wife, Linda was marking arrivals off as they arrived and handing them their plaques. My thanks to all of you for the work you put in at the Brighton end.
I wonder how many people failed to realise that the policeman on the gate was one of our Club members in fancy dress. I must admit he fooled me for a moment. We tried to catch Howard Annett out with the "Police man" when he arrived, but he slipped through the cordon. There was a jazz band to lighten everyone's spirits but I think what helped the Rally most of all was the weather, because it turned out to be such a lovely, sunny day.
Brian and Carole Foord, who helped me such a lot with this Rally, had gone on ahead of everybody in order to be on hand when the
Mayor of Brighton arrived to inspect our cars. Brian escorted her around and she was apparently so impressed with the display of Austin Sevens that she said she might like to buy a Ruby one day!
We had 323 entries for the Run and at the starting gate 305 started and I think all but 2 made it through to Brighton. This must have been one of the biggest runs for Austin Sevens ever and I hope everyone enjoyed them selves. I know I did.