Marcos Diary - Trials and tribulations of living with a 25 year old car!

Subj: British Sportscar Day, Brooklands 1997

Sunday June 1st was British Sportscar Day at Brooklands.

Brooklands is something special if you have any kind of interest in motor racing and the museum there is excellent at evoking the heydays of the 20s and 30s. If someone invents time travel before I die, I'm going to travel back to those days just to see the Bentleys, Lagondas, MGs and Bugattis duelling on the giant oval. Even standing on the shattered remains of the banking, you can hear the ghosts of Birkin and the others thundering around from just behind that office building where the banking used to go.

But on Sunday, June 1st it wasn't ghosts on the banking it was British Sportscars. I've never attended this show before, because it usually falls on Le Mans weekend, but thankfully they moved it this year and I booked my place and set off with the Marcos on a glorious sunny morning with my daughter alongside.

As we arrived at Brooklands perimeter, I started to have uneasy thoughts as I saw a number of modern stands with current cars from all over the globe on. Don't get me wrong, I think some current cars are brilliant, but this wasn't what I expected. Luckily, though this turned out to be an unconnected event organised by the famous Auto Trader magazine.

Once I found the right road I drove over to the museum area, where the clubhouse, test-hill and banking remains are. I soon spotted a few familiar looking vehicles (much as I love the E-Type shape, they are awfully common...) and a helpful organiser directed me to the Marcos parking area, which came as a bit of shock; I'm used to being the only Marcos at non-club events. As I followed his instructions another owner flagged me down and introduced himself and directed me to park up next to the large TVR stand and his wooden chassised 1600 Ford engined car. The other side of his car was 2 year old Mantara Spyder, so in 3 cars we were a fairly representative history of the Marcos marque from the mid-60s until today and from the wooden chassis to the latest, fully built supercars.

We wandered around, admiring the Piper stand with more cars than I ever knew they built on, which was the other side of the Marcos pitch. We did a quick tour of the museum (4 year olds tire quickly of such things) and admired the genuine Le Mans Bentley with Brooklands racing history, the half dozen Gordon Keebles (My daughter says I should buy one on the strength of the Tortoise bonnet badge), the Aston DB4 prepared for the Paris-Peking rally, complete with ski box on the roof and jacked-up suspension, and the smart little Teals (essentially Bugatti replicas, looking very at home here).

The really nice thing about this show was that it was a great mixture of old and new. There were 20s and 30s cars, mixed in with the latest offerings from Jaguar (XK8s) and MG (The neat little MGF) and everyone seemed happy to be there as part of it. Undoubtedly, the weather helped as the sun shone down and, although the day was windy, the banking and test hill shielded one from it almost everywhere around the museum site.

The day was glorious and cars were taking a turn to run up the test hill, which runs from 1 in 8 to 1 in 4, and then out onto a short stretch of the remaining banking. Lauren and I walked around the banking and up to the top of the test hill, just in time to see it being closed, so we returned to the car and ate our picnic. After buying an ice cream and touring the aircraft hanger, with its collection of Brooklands related aero-memoribilia including that Wellington fished from Loch Ness a few years ago, which is well into a restoration project lasting years, we saw them reopen the test hill.

We rushed back to the car and joined the short queue to have a go. There were a lot of cars at Brooklands, but there seemed more people than could be explained merely by their occupants and a lot of them were gathered around the test hill as the start marshall flagged us off. The Marcos rides very low, so I was a little cautious at the points where the gradient changes as it is quite pronounced, but the crowd appreciated the sight and sound of the Marcos storming up the hill and even over the engine we could hear the oohs and ahs... Lauren liked it too, citing it as the highlight of her day and even telling school friends about it on Monday morning. Once we crested the hill, we took the small twisty road onto the banking and had a brief, but glorious blast of 200-300 yards back to the area where we were parked. A TV crew were filming the day's activities, but as I don't know who they worked for I doubt I'll ever know if we made the TV!

We finished off our picnic watching a few more cars blatting around the banking and then set off home along the country lanes of Surrey. Lauren fell asleep and I enjoyed a rare (these days) hour driving the Marcos. Oh what a wonderful day....


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