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Spectacular, Sunny, Silverstone

Safety Fast! Editor Andy Knott gives us his take on a brilliant MGLive! at Silverstone as part of this month’s feature.

The World’s largest MG event, MGLive! saw all variants of the marque descending on Silverstone as motoring enthusiasts from every corner of the globe gathered at the Northamptonshire circuit. A revised event layout and an array of fresh features combined to tempt new faces, which proved so very popular with members of the MGCC, sponsors, traders and members of the public. An excellent weekend of weather enabled all of us to watch the motorsport activities, take in the arena activities, explore the traders’ stalls, and admire the cars whilst chatting with like-minded enthusiasts, or relaxing with a cold drink on the village green whilst listening to the live bands.

As MGs were streaming into the Circuit the ‘Wheeler Dealer’ pairing of Mike Brewer and Ant Anstead took to the Smartdriverclub Arena to officially open MGLive! 2017 at 10.00 on Saturday morning. The pair kept the buzz going in the arena all day, along with their friend, legendary stunt driver Russ Swift. His spectacular display of motor madness included driving on two wheels, handbrake stunts and parallel parking, reverse spins…not to forget his famous dance routine that well and truly smoked the life out of his MG3 and wowed the crowds. Just as well, then, that his show came with the health warning of ‘Don’t try this at home!’

The Wheeler Dealers took part in a number of games, including the very first MGLive! Pedal Kart Relay Race, which involved teams slaloming through cones, driving through a car wash where they were pelted with soggy sponges, and stopping for a picture at the selfie stop before crossing the line and swapping drivers. It proved to be a big hit with the crowd, and prizes for each winner included a pair of tickets for the NEC Classic Motor Show in November.

The Human Gymkhana was also very popular, with people racing against the clock and completing a number of tasks, with the winners bagging a £15 voucher for the MG Car Club shop. The Mac Tools Challenge on Saturday was something very special for the crowd in attendance. Former MG BTCC drivers, Jack Goff and Sam Tordoff, were joined in the Smartdriverclub Live Arena with current driver, Josh Cook, to take part in the Challenge. Ant Anstead picked them each a teammate from the crowd as they joined forces to compete for the title of quickest wheel changers. Josh Cook was crowned victorious and had great pleasure in soaking third-placed Sam Tordoff with a bucket of water alongside Jack Goff, which made for fantastic entertainment.

The infield area was to play host to the prestigious California Cup Autotests, which made its welcome return to the throng of the event. As tyres squealed and smoked, the crowds gathered, and with a packed entry of 30-plus action was guaranteed from the outset. The excellent organisation from Noel Lindford and his loyal band of MGCC Tyne Tees helpers made for a real spectacle, with many saying they can’t wait to participate in the Autotest next year. We’ll have a full report next month.

Throughout the weekend the Trade stands were open for business – with a great mix of products on offer for visitors to buy and enthralling live demonstrations. The Silverstone Sort Out Stands also presented a fantastic opportunity for MG owners to track down that elusive classic car part at bargain prices. For those looking for something different, the Lifestyle Marquee was the place to go. From jams to jewellery and entry photos of you and your MG, they could all be found in this Marquee.

The Village Green was a welcome addition to MGLive! this year, the large open area really giving the event a festival feel as The Candy Girls UK, Glamophones, Dammit Jack and Shadow Monkeys took to the live stage during the daytime. They soon had people singing along and dancing. Whilst Mums and Dads, Grannies and Grandads were relaxing on the picnic benches enjoying something to eat and drink taking in the music, the children were able to burn off some of their energy on the free funfair, which was kept busy all weekend.

It was good to see MG Motor prominently displaying three Chinese MG XS’, in the patriotic colours of Red, White and Blue, as well as having an MG GS and MG3 on display. The feedback from the MG UK staff was very positive with lots of interest and good wishes from members. The MG Motor Stand also played host to ex-MG BTCC drivers Jack Goff and Sam Tordoff and current MG BTCC Driver Josh Cook, with a well-attended Q&A session on Saturday.

MGLive! saw some very close racing trackside, and the joy of being able to access the many grandstands was a blessing for anyone with tired feet. The racing proved to be exciting and hugely competitive, with many battles spreading down the entire field in virtually every race (see separate race report for more details). One of the grandstands was conveniently positioned right next to the relocated MG Car Club Marquee which housed the popular MG Car Club shop, a lot of the MGCC Centres and Registers, and a selection of MGs including three motorsport icons, an MGC GTS, 6R4 and a BTCC MG6.

If your legs were getting weary, you could always hop on one of the classic buses kindly provided by the Tuesday Bus Group. These ran throughout the weekend all around the whole circuit, taking people across to watch the racing and sprint, but for some, it was just a nostalgic circular trip.

Saturday evening was concluded with excellent live music from TFI Live, as the burger waggon and Bus Bar were kept busy all evening with revellers and people dancing on the top deck. As the sun set the Glo-cars lit the evening sky. Smaller Register and Regional barbeques were evident in the specially designated camping areas. Up and down the pit lane the racers also were enjoying the companionship that arises from the close racing, arguably the backbone to MGLive!

As the sun and temperature rose on Sunday morning, everyone knew that Silverstone would be once again bathed in glorious sunshine. As the smell of fried breakfasts wafted across from the campsite, Ant Anstead and Mike Brewer once again kicked off proceedings in the Arena.

As the racing started on the Historic GP Circuit there were also 130-plus competitors raring to set their quickest time over on the Stowe Circuit as the Sprint, ably organised by the MGCC North West Centre, also got under way. Whilst Ant and Mike were busy in the arena, the Autosolo made its welcome return to MGLive! and was in the capable hands of the MGCC Tyne Tees Centre, as 26 MGs pitted themselves against the clock over various tests.

Cars began to assemble on Copse Runway for the Meguiar’s Concours and Pride of Ownership around 10.00am, as the most detailed and immaculate examples of the marque moved gracefully to their judging areas. There were stunning examples of cars on show, ranging from T-Types to an SV-R.

The racing was thrilling as ever, and those who participated in the MGC Anniversary lunch time circuit tour enjoyed their time on the GP circuit. The MG Car Club marquee was busy for a second successive day, with the Centres, Registers and MGCC staff working hard to recruit new members and assist customers with their merchandise requirements.

People began to filter away from the circuit around six, as the event drew to a natural conclusion. It had been a bumper weekend of action. The weather had been kind, the action plentiful and the sea of cars utterly spectacular. A sizeable sum was raised for the event’s nominated charity, Headway, over the weekend and it was wonderful to have representatives from the charity on site during the two days.

As always, the success of the biggest MG event in the calendar was down to the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of all those involved, for which special thanks go out. MGLive! is proof that the marque of friendship is as strong as ever.

James and Edward Wooster

“I really enjoyed the MGLive! event today. This was my first visit and I’m amazed at the sheer scale of what the MGCC had laid on. I’ve never seen so many MGs in one location! I particularly liked the Wheeler Dealers and Smartdriverclub Arena opening session with Russ Swift – and my son and I were lucky to be ‘picked upon’ for the two-wheel driving and precision high-speed parking. The California Cup Auto Test was also a real eye-opener – I had no idea that you could control Midgets like that. Well done!”

Harvey Heath

“This has been a special trip for me. I shipped my MGC from New Zealand to take part in the excellent MGC50 event at Chateau Impney, did a bit of touring around including heading to Abingdon, and then on to Silverstone for MGLive! I can’t believe how friendly everyone has been. I’ve really enjoyed my time over here, it’s a once in a lifetime occasion. The scale of MGLive! has really blown me away. I’ve had a wonderful experience and struggled to take the whole of the event in. I can’t wait to let all my friends in NZ know what I’ve got up to.”

Ray and Kim Windle

“We’ve been coming to Silverstone for the past four years. We always enjoy the event and socialising with the people we meet. This is the first year I’ve bought my TD. It’s quite a trip for us, so we always make a full weekend of it, which is great. I’ve had a slight running issue with the car, but speaking with other helpful T-Type owners, we’ve hopefully rectified the problem. Taking the TD out on the hallowed Silverstone track was something special – top down, sun shining, what a wonderful experience. Great event, we’ll be back next year.”