The world’s greatest MG weekender
Leanne Fahy shares her take on the Club’s flagship event – the fantastic MGLive! at Silverstone.
The world’s largest MG event made a brilliant return on June 2-3 as enthusiasts from all over the globe arrived at Silverstone for MGLive! 2018. And with a winning combination of great cars, motorsport action and plentiful activity for all ages set under beautiful blue skies for the most part, it was surely one of the best in the event’s 68-year history.
For me, it made a change to enjoy the alternate side of the event this year. Normally based in the media room and focusing on the motorsport side of the event, I miss much of the infield entertainment. With two whole days to explore, I fully experienced everything that MGLive! had to offer, and what a fantastic weekend it was.
This year’s hosting duties fell to Danny Hopkins of Practical Classics magazine fame, alongside Wayne Scott of Classic Heritage PR. Taking to the stage on the Duckhams Village Green on the Saturday morning, the dynamic duo officially opened MGLive! 2018.
From here it was a quick trot across to the MG Motor UK Live Arena for Danny, to join the infamous Russ Swift in his first show of the weekend. Russ has been entertaining crowds for many years, taking his popular stunt show around the country. His attendance at MGLive! began in the late 1980s, and his efforts are enjoyed just as much now as they always have been.
This year Russ supported the event’s official charity partner, SeeSaw – an Oxfordshire based charity supporting bereaved children and young people. In a bid to raise funds, Russ offered passenger rides to the crowd in exchange for donations. Once onlookers saw what was on offer, such as experiencing Russ’ signature ‘dance routine’ and even acting as ballast as he steered an MG ZS around the arena on two wheels, there was no shortage of people reaching for their wallets.
As the event’s activities got into full swing the Duckhams Village Green came alive to the sound of The Candy Girls. Back by popular demand, the three-piece close harmony group brought an extra touch of vintage glamour to proceedings. Performing classics from the 1940’s and 50’s, their bright demeanour soon brushed away the lingering early morning cloud cover, as the sun began to shine through. The girls would perform on five further occasions over the weekend, entertaining the crowds throughout.
But the musical treats didn’t stop there. Joining the bill for an MGLive! debut was the Gary Woods Swing Band, who alternated with The Candy Girls on both days and even joined forces with them on the Sunday! The array of trumpets and saxophones made for a fantastic watch while soaking up the relaxed atmosphere on the Village Green – an area that also played host to a variety of food and drink outlets, a fun fair for the kids, a unique rallycross MG TF from Germany and a a display of long-distance marathon cars featuring the Club’s ex-Jean Denton MGB.
Providing the evening’s entertainment was Euphoria, another debut act. Headlining the excellent After Hours Party, the five-piece band performed everything from Motown numbers to contemporary hits. It was a fantastically eclectic collection, complemented by plenty of activity around the area, including the ever popular Glow Show organised by the MGF Register.
For those wanting to stretch their legs, there was plenty to see and do around the infield during the weekend. From handmade children’s clothing and gifts, homemade jams and preserves, pastries and sweets right through to music-themed key rings and t-shirts, to stationery, the Lifestyle Marquee had it all. There was even a stall offering to clean your specs, which was a popular stop around the marquee.
Back outside, the trade area extended far into the distance, with a great mix of big names, independents and show debutants selling everything from books to car cleaning products and all manner of MG spares. Surrounded by masses of MGs lined up with their respective Centres and Registers in a new layout of individual marquees that proved very popular, there was no shortage of viewing pleasure.
New to the mix this year, the Young Members Group had its own stand within the Centre and Register displays, plus a great presence in the Village Green and a dedicated parking area. The group attracted a great deal of attention throughout the two days, giving visitors a healthy reassurance that the future of the Club is in good hands. The group looks set to become an official Branch of the Club later this year, so is definitely one to look out for.
Adding to the mix were the packed Register Parking displays. With everything from the Vintage Register right up to the 635 Register, MGs spanning almost 90 years were catered for. And for those who liked to get busy with the microfibre cloths and detailing products, the Pride of Ownership and Concours attracted some of the finest MG examples and, much like the rest of the event, covered a broad spectrum of models. The MGA Twin Cam in particular was honoured with a fantastic number of cars, with owners turning up to form a display to commemorate the model’s 60th anniversary.
Visitors from all over the world are a huge part of MGLive! and there are affiliated Clubs all over the world – the first formed in South Africa back in 1939! Saturday saw the overseas section of the Club gather its cars in the thick of the action on Copse runway, as well as having its own section in the main Club marquee.
MGLive! is also a calendar highlight for guests from MG Motor’s overseas markets, due in no small part to the Club also acting as SAIC’s world heritage partner. This year there was an impressive turnout of Chinese enthusiasts, while a strong presence from MG Motor India and further representation from the Middle East added to the event’s international flavour.
As I was kept busy in the infield arena, the motorsport side of the event was a resounding success once again. With 16 races spread across the two days, the high speed entertainment provided plenty of action around the historic GP circuit. One of the many highlights was the Church Square Autos MGF/TF Challenge on the Saturday, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of the MGF Cup. And for those not racing but still wanting to get out on track, lunchtime circuit tours offered a great chance to experience the Silverston Grand Prix layout in fine style.
Back in the infield arena, the California Cup Autotest was a big draw. The excellent organisation from Noel Lindford and his loyal band of MGCC Tyne Tees helpers ensured a great spectacle, with a whole range of MGs squealing their tyres in a bid to take home the prizes. Once again it was the Ulster Centre that emerged victorious overall, though they had to work hard for it thanks to another sterling effort from the Lincolnshire Centre. The cones were back out on Sunday too, as Oxford Motor Club staged the popular Autosolo, a lighter version of an autotest that saw all MGs and related BMC marques doing battle.
Those wanting a break from the bustling infield could rest their legs by hopping aboard one of the complimentary bus tours. A number of classic buses and coaches were on hand throughout the weekend to offer tours around the impressive Silverstone Circuit venue. Journeying over to the Porsche Driving Experience Centre, the Wing Complex and the Stowe circuit where Sunday’s sprint took place, it really showed how vast the venue actually is. The buses even sampled part of the old GP circuit, now no longer in use. The bus drivers were a great addition, with the comedy and entertainment they brought to the ride appreciated by all aboard.
With prizes for the California Cup, Pride of Ownership and Concours given out on stage at the close of both days, all heads turned to the skies to see the Red Arrows make an appearance on Sunday – nothing like ending the show in style!
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. Walking around to the tune of great feedback and happy smiling faces confirmed MGLive! 2018 was a storming success. It couldn’t have been done without brilliant support from the volunteers, staff, members, traders, racers, charity partners and visitors that attended over the weekend. To all who came, thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you all again next year!