Originators of UK closed road motorsport

Janet Lancaster Memorial Run 2015

You would not have believed that six whole years have passed since The 2300 Club ran any type of motoring event; but from the moment the Club’s logo announcing ‘Rally HQ‘ and ‘Signing On’ was emblazoned over the door of the main entrance to The Spread Eagle at Sawley, on the morning of Saturday 24th October, the cogs of a well oiled Swiss watch started to turn with military precision. Even to the untrained eye, all that experience of many years on Mull immediately became evident!

Not even the squally showers of the early autumn morning could dampen the smiles of 2300 Club veterans, clearly glad to be back in action as they happily welcomed the day’s “Janet Lancaster Memorial Run” participants with a lovely cuppa and more than plenty of generous bacon butties. Elder statesman of 2300 Club, Ian Grindrod, quipped “there’s enough bacon on here to start a butcher’s shop”.

Sean Bramhall’s immaculate and rare 1964 Ferrari 330 (finished in quite proper Rosso, of course) would have graced a starting line-up anywhere in the world … it roared up to the start line and the scene was set! Surely a serious contender for the “Concours d’Elegance” award at teatime, for which John Nixon, 2300 Club Treasurer, had the unenviable task of acting as judge, and the consternation on his face illustrated just how seriously he was taking the role. There were several strong contenders from the word go.

First car away was the beautiful 1954 Bentley R Type driven by Eddie Lancaster, navigated by his Son Andrew. The Run had been named in memory of Eddie’s wife Janet who sadly passed away in July last year, yet another cancer victim.

Janet Lancaster was a treasured employee for many years of Quest Electrical of Burnley, who were more than glad to be invited to be one of the main sponsors of the event in her memory. The event will raise money in aid of Pendleside Hospice, Burnley, who cared so well for Janet in her last weeks.

Car number two was an open-topped 1936 Riley Kestrel Special piloted by husband and wife team John and Sarah Cross. You could not help but feel a little sorry for them as they set off, open to the elements as they were, in the kind of gentle but steady rain to which only those native to the Ribble Valley will be accustomed.

The rest of the field followed, to enjoy a morning route which took advantage of some fantastically attractive Bowland roads and once again the experience of the organising team was evident. To a man (and woman), the drivers’ accolades poured in at the lunch halt to congratulate Walter and David, the route organisers, on their choice of first-half tarmac.

A field of thirty one cars set off from Sawley and all but the Riley Kestrel and the Rover 216 Cabriolet of Geoff Maine made it to the lunch halt unscathed. The 1961 MGA of David & Sarah Rigby, sadly, didn’t make it out of the car park at the start as failed windscreen wipers made it impossible for the crew to see where they were going … despite the gallant efforts of a whole gang of 2300 Club officials. I’m sure they would even have been prepared to push the car around the entire course, such was the level of support in attendance.

Everyone enjoyed a fine lunch and hospitality at The Bay Horse at Skipton as excited tales of the morning run rebounded around the room. The weather cleared, happily, and the sun shone as the Yorkshire afternoon section beckoned. The buzz of excitement, and anticipation of the restart, was quite palpable. Many of the novice crews had clearly found some confidence, with every Checkpoint and Marshal Point successfully achieved during the morning. Shona Holly, driver of the 1954 Porsche Spyder 550, commented to her navigator, “Wow … come on Coleen, we can clean this!”

Dr Pat Moore and his son Cameron in the 1967 Mustang failed to return from a lunch time refuelling stop, due to a burnt-out starter solenoid, but Sarah and David Rigby (MGA 1600) returned from the disappointment of the morning to swell numbers in the afternoon section … as a real contender for the “Spirit of the Run Award”, perhaps?

The afternoon section saw a few more casualties as Marcus Russell called in to report his MG TF retired with loss of coolant, and Derek and Shirley Cross in the 1984 Ford Capri 2.0S had to retire with problems; not just what Derek had to report, a case of severe ear ache, the result of various scoldings from Shirley …

A tired but happy band began to arrive for the finish at Colne & Nelson Rugby Club, to be greeted by a buffet feast fit for a king, prepared by the Club’s very own “Ma Larkin” (Pat Bateson); a reason on its own for many to “come back next year”.

Once again tales of “what might have been”, and the beautiful scenery enjoyed by all the competitors throughout the day, filled the room.

With all cars and occupants safely accounted for, it remained only for Sean Holly to say a big “Thank You” to all those assembled, handing out congratulations right, left and centre; Gold Medals were awarded to only three crews who managed to return home on time having “cleaned” (full marks, no mistakes) the entire route – namely:

  1. Mick and Ben Anderson in a Minisport 1975 Mini Cooper S
  2. Peter Duckworth and Nick Thornton from Glossop Motor Club in a 2003  MGTF
  3. Mark and Helen Widdup in a 1972 Morris Mini 850

John Nixon teased everyone with his list of contenders for the Concours d’Elegance Award before awarding it, and the trophy to go with it, to John Dowding and his stunningly well-prepared 1948 Singer Super 10.

The event was a wonderful success enjoyed by organisers and participants alike. It was sadly appropriate, however, to recognise the tragic events of a couple of weeks earlier when The 2300 Club lost member Andy Mort to a dreadful accident whilst he was competing in The Mull Rally. Andy was to have been a Marshal on the Janet Lancaster Run. He will be greatly missed by all that knew him.

It fell to 2300 Club Chairman Neil Molyneux to conclude matters and to pay tribute to Andy. Everyone raised a glass in respectful silence to the loss of such a good friend and motorsport compatriot … and no prizes, we suspect, for guessing what the name of next year’s run might be!

Photos from the event are available from:

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