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Keith Beningfield at the MGCC Speed Championship at Loton Park, August 2019

On the weekend of 24/25th August the MG Speed Championship met again at the Shropshire venue of Loton Park. I was only competing on the Saturday as we had other arrangements for the Sunday.

Loton Park was used by the War Department for munitions storage during WWII.  By the time they vacated the site in 1959, the army had laid around 14 miles of roads throughout the deer park of Sir Michael Leighton. who had taken over the estate after his father’s death. By April 1970, Hagley & District Light Car Club had taken over the running of Loton Park events. The course is 1475 yards (1349 metres) long making it the third longest course used in the British Hill Climb Championship with an average gradient of 1 in 25 (4%) and the steepest of 1 in 7 (14%) and is rated as one of the country’s most demanding hills by competitors.

This is a popular venue with the Championship with 17 entries ranging from Triple M to modern Z’s and TF’s. The usual gang of five pre 55 cars was in attendance. The weather was fine and hot promising a good day’s competition with the usual format of two practice and two timed runs.

James Burmester had finally managed to sort the issues with his pre-select gearbox and completed both practise sessions, whilst the rest of us completed practice without incident, ending up as follows:

Keith Beningfield TC s/c 69.45
Dave Morris TC 78.95
Howard Harman TC 80.93
James Burmester PA s/c 83.77
Martin Price TA/C 85.35

The bank holiday temperatures were soaring so the conditions for the timed runs were about as good as they could be, so anticipation was high. The track was resurfaced in 2017 and I set my best time in 2018 with a 68.12. My first timed run started well only to be red flagged halfway up cedar straight. The car in front of me was my son Ian in his Midget coming to grief at Museum bend just before the finish, no damage, just the embarrassment of a spin in full view of the previous runners at the top holding paddock and the comment ‘it looked like a fast run until it wasn’t’. All the excitement of the red flag made me go slower, and I could only manage 68.52 whilst most of the others all went faster.

Second runs all went without any further dramas and the final positions were as follows, together with the Sunday results. After all the anticipation of beating last years’ time I only managed to equal my previous time – for the second time this year, life’s full of disappointment!

  Saturday Sunday
Keith Beningfield TC s/c 68.12
Dave Morris TC 77.99 77.01
Howard Harman TC 83.75 79.20
James Burmester PA s/c 84.45
Martin Price TA/C 82.36 81.22

It was another event where the car ran faultlessly, so there was nothing to do other than a quick check over before next weekend at the Bo’ness Hill Climb Revival, a two-day event just west of Edinburgh.

The continuing quest for the best paddock bacon roll resumed at Loton after the disappointment of Shelsley Walsh, A reasonable offering with plenty of bacon but spoilt by using bread rather than a roll, based on previous experience my hopes are high for Bo’ness.