Originators of UK closed road motorsport

“Andy Mort Tour” – Report by Alan Barnes of Preston Motorsport Club

Here is the full report on the 2300 Club Andy Mort Tour, which will be published imminently in the SD34 Spotlight E-magazine. It was written by Alan Barnes of Preston Motorsport Club, who has given permission for us to publish it here …

2300 Club Andy Mort Tour

Many of the members of 2300 Club may be past their ‘collect bus pass’ age but there is life in the club yet and they proved it by organising an excellent touring assembly in honour of member Andy Mort.

Andy, as many readers will be aware, succumbed to injuries sustained in an accident on the Mull Rally last year when co-driving for John MacCrone, who came back this year to win the event and dedicate the emotional victory to his friend.

I never met Andy but he was, by all accounts, a larger than life character, and paying tribute to him, 2300 Club Chairman, Neil Molyneux told the post-touring assembly gathering that Andy would have ‘found ways of enjoying the touring assembly more than anybody else’.

The subsequent laughter told its own story about Andy – he was someone who was an industrious member of the 2300 Club committee, someone who gave his heart and soul to the sport he loved so much.

So, to the touring assembly. Simon Boardman aka Simon Bee had posted a mention of it on my Facebook timeline on my return from the Mull Rally. Would the long-suffering Mrs Sally Barnes feel generous enough to issue a pass out so that I could go and play out? There was a chance to take part in the event with Lancashire Automobile Club president and all-round good guy John Hartley, in a beautiful red Porsche 964.

Apart from anything else I wanted to acknowledge what the 2300 Club was doing for Andy Mort. I had been on Mull in October 2015, competing on the same rally, like many other Spotlight readers, when the tragedy involving my fellow Lancastrian occurred. Here was an opportunity to pay my respects.

I explained the situation to ‘her indoors’ in such terms and the answer was in the affirmative. She’s a darling, what would I do or be without her?

A quick phone call was made to John and the touring assembly was on. Saturday October 22 dawned cold and misty and on arrival at Mytton Fold Golf Club there was the old, familiar sight of orange direction arrows baring the name 2300 Club.

A convivial breakfast of bacon barmcakes, coffee and tea, gave many old friends a chance to say hello and catch up and we signed on, collecting a stylish name plate for the car, a roadbook, containing simple Tulip instructions to take crews from the start to the lunch halt via a series of check points where your time card was signed by marshalls or where you had to write down a code from a codeboard.

Seeing so many old faces from when I started rallying in the early 1980s was a lovely experience. Charlie Woodward, Rod Brereton, Ian Grindrod, Trevor Roberts, Walter and Pat Bateson – Pat doesn’t appear to have changed a bit, a great servant to motorsport but don’t mess with her! – and so many others including the hard-workin Stuart Pye who dealt with entries and helped make the event run so smoothly.

Soon we were on our way and the route took the cars down to the De Tabley bridge over the Ribble, via Dinckley. After heading up Gallows Lane and via Hurst Green we found ourselves motoring past Stonyhurst College and up onto the back end of Longridge Fell where Trevor Roberts was manning a check point.

I don’t know how old Trevor is now but I remember the way he chaired Clitheroe Motor Club with such style and command when I was a beginner aged 18 or 19. A true motorsport legend, a top man and so nice to see him still involved in helping the 2300 Club.

The route then took us via Bashall Eaves and Cow Ark up to Slaidburn and up Lythe Fell, via the Four Ringstones loop and on to Mewith Head and north to the A65 near Ingleton. A bit of slottery around the Burton in Lonsdale, Wenningon and Bentham area saw us head pas Dan Willan’s coach firm up the Roman road at Casterton and up to a checkpoint, manned by Ian Grindrod and Clive Molyneux at the start of Barbondale. What a road this is, with a series of crests and yumps that we naturally did not take other than cautiously in the Porsche.

From Barbondale we travelled via the cobblestoned village of Dent and out via what the old timers call Dent Station White. It is in fact a C-class road but is quite rough in places, though nothing I have seen lately is as rough as the Hill Road on Mull. Travelling over this road brought memories flooding back of flying down this road in the mid-80s on the old Motoring News road rally rounds such as the Bolton Midnight and the Devil’s Own. They were the days! Just further to the north of Dent Station White were Mallerstang and Tan Hill, again classic molorland road rally roads – but we instead headed east towards Hawes for the lunch halt.
The second half saw us pootle over Fleet Moss and then up to Arncliffe before heading down the yumpy, bumpy Pen-Y-Ghent road to Stainforth – all classics.

We headed back to Mytton Fold Golf Course via Tosside, Bolton-by-Bowland and Downham, travelling over the back end of Pendle Hill via Barley and out towards Sabden Fold and Whalley.

On arrival back at HQ Pat Bateson presented us with a souvenir key ring apiece, with the 2300 Club logo engraved on it. A nice touch, thank you! And over the obligatory post-event pint, John and I chatted amongst friends, having a laugh, having fun. I had enjoyed a lovely day in the company of a great enthusiast in John, who really is one of motorsport’s great characters. His car is a joy to travel in, so nimble, so direct, so much power on tap. I want one, but I will never be able to afford one!

What else did I learn? Well, I know that these touring assemblies are a gentle but excellent way for newcomer navigators to learn the art of map reading and using tulips, with an element of timekeeping also involved. I will be mentioning this aspect when I next see members of Preston Motorsport Club. A lot of our younger members are keen to dip a toe in the waters of rally navigation and these events make great sense for them to hone their skills.

I also learned that we take the countryside around us for granted far too much. The colours of autumn were evident all around us and what a stunning backdrop those mountains and fells made as we buzzed along in our cars.

This was the second event the 2300 Club has put on since running its last Tour of Mull in 2009. Hopefully there will be more events to follow, not least a proper stage rally if the road closures act ever comes into being in England.

Those roads used on this route, devised by Walter Bateson, are all quality roads. What a sight, what an experience a proper rally in full-on stage cars would be for those lucky enough to participate. Here’s to hoping it happens one day!

Alan Barnes
Preston Motorsport Club

Here are a few photos, kindly provided by Alan to go with his report

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