MG Live! 2012 Event Report
Report Philip Shoulder, Photos: Damien Jennings, Philip Shoulder, Jenny Duffin, Colin Grant and Dickon Siddal.
The wettest June since 1910 failed to dampen the spirits of enthusiasts who flocked to Silverstone to celebrate the enduring magic of the MG marque. Despite some challenging conditions, the Club’s annual Silverstone festival once again attracted thousands of fanatics from right across the globe.
As always, MGLive! aimed to cater for everyone: racing fans, classic car admirers, MG enthusiasts and those simply seeking a great family day out. Downpours in the lead-up to the event and intermittent rain throughout the weekend led to wet underfoot conditions. However, the ‘Glastonbury effect’ brought with it bundles of true MG spirit.
Although essentially a two day event in 2012, 21 cars gathered at Silverstone on Friday 22 June for the MGLive! Marque of Friendship Rally.
With participants from South Africa, Sweden, Holland, Australia and Japan the Rally had a truly international flavour.
The route was devised by Dorset based rally organiser Bob Blackstock and a roadbook of tulip diagrams took entrants through 70 miles of glorious Cotswold countryside.
En route were visits to the Oxford Bus Museum and the Morris Motors Exhibition at Long Hanborough, where the 21 cars were joined by a further 20 who had made the journey from Abingdon, before the 30 mile return trip to Silverstone.
The onsite camping was also opened from 15.00 on the Friday to allow those travelling from far and wide to set up and make the most of the weekend.
MG Motor UK was in attendance throughout the MGLive! weekend, showcasing both variants of the MG6. The manufacturer, who has a long affiliation with the MGCC, was offering an exclusive 20% discount to Car Club members.
MG Marketing Manager Clint Cordle said: “This is a brand new deal launched at MGLive! which runs until August 31. It’s a great offer that on the top-of-the-range MG6 equates to a saving of nearly £4,000 off list price.”
The MG6 has proven to be a worthy contender in the family/executive class and with a new 1.9 diesel engine coming later this year will be able to compete even more effectively with established rivals.
Cordle added: “We’ve been looking forward to this development for some time. The new engine is highly efficient and will incorporate start/stop and utilise a six speed gearbox, making MG6 an even cleaner and more economical car.”
The Club marquee provided a great place for visitors to meet friends, engage with Centres, Registers and branches and also take refuge from the elements!
A garage-themed layout was present with a mix of MG models ranging from an XPAG special to an MG6.. Morris cars also formed part of the display and were supplied by members of The Morris Register.
Meanwhile, next door in the ever-popular Lifestyle Marquee, there was a vintage feel with tunes resonating from an immaculate 1960s jukebox.
The MG Plaza brought together both young and old as Rocker Box Racers battled it out for supremacy in elimination heats. After much competitively spirited racing, winners were declared in two classes.
Trade City was open for business throughout the weekend, giving visitors the opportunity to choose from a selection of MG spare parts and aftermarket products. MG Enthusiast Roy Astley said: “If you’ve got an MG it’s great because you’ll find bits here that you wouldn’t anywhere else. It’s amazing what people dig out of their barns and sheds and bring to MGLive! to sell.”
Those seeking some flat-out family fun had to look no further than the MGLive! arena, with Russ Swift performing his usual high-octane antics.
On both Saturday and Sunday, Swift was screeching and sliding around the live action arena, much to the delight of onlookers.
Stunts included driving his Mini Cooper on two wheels, reverse spins, a dance routine and plenty of handbrake induced parallel parking. Although the arena provided spectators with a cinematic view of the action, some members of the audience just couldn’t get close enough. When MG fan Tim Grisman heckled Russ, Russ made him an offer he couldn’t refuse – to see if was brave enough to stand in the very parking spot where the Mini would come to a rest after a handbrake parallel park manoeuvre.
Cheered on by the audience Tim took the challenge, but was mercifully spared having to be quite that brave. Still, he did bag himself the closest seat in the house in one of the action display MGFs.
Heather Allsworth and Amy Giles actually got to be part of the action, being plucked from the crowd to ride shotgun in the Mini before Russ took it up on two wheels. Speaking afterwards, Heather said: “It was brilliant – a real adrenaline rush – much better than a rollercoaster ride.”
A perennial performer at MG shows, Russ honed his car handling talents as an Autotest champion. Safety Fast! caught up with him after one of his displays to ask him about his stunt career and MGLive!.
“Everyone’s here to enjoy themselves. I enjoy the interaction with the crowd and making friends with everybody. It’s the friendly and informal atmosphere which is what I think makes MGLive! so memorable.”
Russ has been wowing the crowds for many years now, but before making a career from stunt display driving, he was a regular participant (at MG Silverstone International) in the Californian Cup. “Autotesting is where I learnt my skills. I was the four-time British champion and my experience in that sport formed the basis of the techniques on which I built my professional display routines. I did my first display in 1981 and have been in work ever since.”
The crowd thrilling on Saturday continued with action from M.A.D. – the world’s largest professional mountain bike stunt display team. Their elements of freestyle and competition riding added up to produce a breath-taking mix of balance, precision and control.
Sunday’s two-wheel action was delivered courtesy of Tigers Children’s Motorcycle Display Team. These talented young bikers defied their years, showcasing awe-inspiring levels of skill and dedication, with their high speed manoeuvres, synchronised riding, and jumps through fire.
After the adrenalin fuelled action of Russ Swift in the arena, many spectators were able to see the sport in which Russ started his career by catching one of the free Classic buses to car park 49 which hosted the prestigious California Cup Autotest on the Saturday.
Watching MGs from the 1920s through to 2010 was a real thrill with every entrant competing with great enthusiasm.
Congratulations to the Lincolnshire Centre who were eventual winners of the California Cup. On Sunday, Car Park 49 also played host to an Autosolo, a new event at MGLive! this year which I’m sure will become a regular feature.
Anniversary celebrations played a big part in this year’s event, with MGB50’s Saturday afternoon street party taking centre stage. A threatening weather forecast meant the party was moved into the social marquee where Don Hayter joined the festivities by cutting the anniversary cake.
The Y Register, F/TF and B Register all enjoyed parades around the arena to celebrate the respective anniversaries of their models.
Saturday afternoon saw 58 FIA MGBs take to the grid in the official MGB50 Celebration Race, supported by British Motor Heritage. Ex British Formula Ford champion Callum Macleod took the chequered flag in this spectacular anniversary dash. A full report on the 50 minute race is available to read in Martin Price’s excellent Silverstone race report.
The Old Speckled Hen branded MGB was involved in activities throughout the weekend, including the anniversary circuit tour on Sunday!
In 1979, Morland Brewery celebrated the 50th anniversary of the MG car factory in Abingdon by brewing and naming an anniversary beer after the MG factory’s works car – the speckled MG Featherweight Fabric Saloon, affectionately known as the Ol’ Speckl’d ’Un, which through the mists of time changed to ‘Old Speckled Hen’.
Green King Brewery Brand Manager, Sonia Lawrence, added: “Being the 50th Anniversary of the MGB, we decided it was the perfect time to celebrate and tell people our story.
“This year we’re at MGLive!, Festival of Speed, and Goodwood Revival. At all these events we bring the Speckled Hen MGB, sampling visitors with our beer and merchandise.
“The MGB is a great showpiece for our brand. The MG Car Club helped us with the search for a suitable car, which was eventually sourced from Classic Car Specialists, Former Glory, in Perivale, Middlesex.”
For those making a weekend of it, the entertainment continued into Saturday evening with ‘MGLive! After Hours’ courtesy of the Blues Brothers International live band.
Alongside the music, the Silverstone night sky was illuminated with flashing lights and neons of the MG Glo Car competition. This event was pioneered by the MGF Register and has become a popular addition to MGFest events. All MGs from pre-war to ultra modern took part, with cars being judged under the ProGlo and ImproGlo categories.
The honours went to Nick Holland and Don Woodock who won the ProGlo and ImproGlo classes respectively.
Those seeking a more formal evening attended the three-course dinner hosted by Rally legend Paddy Hopkirk in Silverstone’s Jimmy Brown Suite. Paddy kept guests entertained with his witty anecdotes of his rallying career and time with the BMC Competitions Department. With a fine array of ex MG drivers and BMC Competitions employees in attendance, it was certainly a night to remember. The evening concluded with a charity auction to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Sara Rawnsley, Fundraising Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support explained the charity’s partnership with the MGCC: “We are here this weekend to promote cancer awareness and early diagnosis and that’s one of the reasons for having the Cancer Bus here. Nurses are on hand giving advice to visitors about how to spot the early signs of cancer and what the available treatments are. Our key message is, if you spot something usual on your skin, don’t ignore it, make an appointment to see your doctor.”
“This weekend we’ve been giving out free ‘Sun Sense’ samples of sun lotion and promoting the key message of taking care in the sun.”
Once again British National Aerobatic champion, Gerald Cooper was in the Silverstone skies, strutting his stuff in a purpose-built Sbach 300 stunt plane, where he performed high-octane on-the-limit stunt flying that had the crowds looking skyward in amazement.
For visitors who wanted an elevated vista of MGLive! helicopter rides were available courtesy of Heli Air Silverstone.
Motor racing was once again an integral part of the MGLive! weekend with competitors taking part in all different models of MG.
In racing, along with all the thrills, it’s inevitable there’ll be the occasional spill and Sunday’s Midget MGOC Class A saw Gary Puxy’s Midget come into contact with the barrier on Copse. “It’s the fastest corner of the circuit, so the cars are on the limit. The driver in front of me closed the door so the only way to avoid contact was to go on the grass and as we all know, Midgets don’t go very well on the grass,” he joked.
“There was no way I could continue as the bumper and wing were bent onto the tyre, so that was the end of that race,” but once back in the pits Gary undertook some emergency repairs, including liberal use of good old gaffer tape, to straighten out the damaged bodywork. Unfortunately it also transpired that one of the suspension arms had been bent in the crash, but not one to throw in the towel, Gary headed over to Trade City, where he was fortunate to find a replacement shock absorber which was ingeniously adapted and fitted to the Midget. In true MG spirit everybody lent a hand to ensure the little Midget was fit to compete in the last race of the day.
There was a good turnout for Sunday’s Concours and Pride of Ownership, with a fantastic array of stunning cars spanning all eras. For the second year running, the Iris blue 1964 MGB belonging to MG Car Club Lincolnshire Centre member Vicki Edge took the prize for overall Concours winner and indeed the full sweep of Concours accolades, including Best Concours MGB and First in Class.
“I was really amazed that we won again this year, as there were so many beautiful cars in the line up.”
Vicki explains how she had been looking for a B to compete in shows and knew they had found something special with this 1964 MK1 roadster. Vicki said: “It was something of a barn find and was a completely original car which had been restored by the previous owner but then left unused for 18 months.
“It only required re-commissioning and re-spraying, and that work was entrusted to Colin Freeth of M.R.S Classics,” she added.
To top it all, her husband Geoff claimed NTG Trophy for Best MGA with his 1958 MGA Coupe, which since purchasing in 2005 he has gradually brought up to concours specification.
“I’d wanted an MGA coupe for a long time as I’d always viewed the car as one of the prettiest MG designs ever made. I began my search but in the beginning found the prices of some prohibitive, but fortunately from word of mouth I heard about one for sale in Somerset. It turned out to be a solid genuine car, so I bought it straight away. She’s one of 323 built that year and one of only 828 MGA coupes ever produced.
“Since acquiring the MGA I went about getting her up to concours condition, which involves restoring all the little bits that had gone missing or been changed over the years. But it’s been worth the effort and I’m very happy with her now and delighted to have won the NTG Trophy.”
Away from the events and competitions, the weekend saw many MG owners bring their pride and joy down for the weekend’s festivities. Parked in the T Register section was Dave Locket’s 1955 MG TF1500 which had an interesting back-story. “It’s an ex-Californian car, which was dismantled following its re-importation back to England in the 1990s. When I acquired it all that was present was a bare chassis, four wings and the fuel tank. I gradually sourced and then rebuilt the car, converting it to right hand drive. A unique feature of the car is that it can be converted back to left hand drive, as it still retains both sets of pedal boxes.
MGLive! also gave visitors the chance to win a car. Lancaster were at MGLive! offering a chance to win their 1973 MGB roadster, along with a year’s free insurance.
For those preferring a new model of MG, John Newey, Sales Director of MG dealership Summit Garage in Dudley, had a raffle for a rather special TF – an orange LE500 with only nine miles on the clock.
“The 500 model was a limited edition. As the name suggests, only 500 were made. This car is chassis number 251, the first off the line which Longbridge usually keep, so this makes it extra special,” he added.
As Sunday afternoon came and the event drew to a close there were plenty of smiles throughout Silverstone.
Asked what makes MGLive! so special, Geoff Edge said: “The great thing about MGLive! is that it makes you realise how big the MG community is and acts a great way to catch up with MG enthusiasts from all around the world.”
Another MG owner, Neil Franklin said: “It’s the spirit, character and history which makes MG so great. I come back to MGLive! year after year because I just love MGs and everything associated with them. I’ll never own any other car, MG is the marque for me.”
Club supporters and enthusiasts Dave and Jenny also spoke of the diversity on offer, while Roy Locock added:
“The MG’s biggest annual gathering began being mainly focused on racing, but over the years has broadened and progressed to be the global event that it now is. MGLive! is now on the map as a key classic car event.”
A sizeable sum was raised for Macmillan Cancer Support over the MGLive! 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 to. MGLive! is proof that the marque of friendship is as strong as ever.