UMG Monte 16 13 Dumfries

After leaving Paisley we had a short night time run to Dumfries where we made our first overnight stop. The Historique guys had no such luxury heading straight down the motorway to a distant Dover. A good selection of the Classique cars can been seen in this shot getting ready to leave Dumfries.Behind my Swedish co driver Per Jonsson (in his fetching yellow coat) is the Dutch Derby Bentley 3.5 litre of Robert van Rheenan. Behind him is the rapid little Austin A35 of Fiona and Richard Lamotte. On the right Ian Glass and Nick Ward fettle “The Tortoise”, Ian’s Ford Popular.

UMG Monte 16 14 Croft Dad

From Dumfries the route took us over the border into Cumbria and then over the Pennines to Croft Motor Circuit near Darlington. There I had a pleasant surprise, my father having driven down from Northumberland to see how we were getting on.

UMG Monte Carlo Rally 2016 - Croft Circuit 5

Here we are leaving the pits for a few laps of the circuit

UMG Monte 16 Croft 2 on track

I believe this was the first time that UMG 662 had been on a motor circuit since it raced at Silverstone in the 1953 Daily Express Production Touring Car race (3rd in class!).

UMG Monte Carlo Rally 2016 - Croft Circuit 2

Coming down the pit straight with a Standard in pursuit.

UMG 662 Silverstone 1953

The last time UMG 662 was on track – The Daily Express Production Touring Car Race, Silverstone 1953

UMG Monte 16 16 M25 Dartford

Some unwelcome news at Croft was that the ferry we were due to take overnight from Hull to Zeebrugge had been cancelled. Alternative arrangements were put in place but entailed a long slog down the A1 to Folkestone and the Channel Tunnel. Unfortunately we arrived on the M25 at rush hour with traffic over the Dartford Crossing held up by high winds. We ended up sitting in traffic for over an hour. Much to our relief UMG 662 did not over heat.

UMG Monte 16 17 Chunnel

Since leaving Croft we had not seen any of the other rally cars. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to find ourselves behind the splendid Ford Zodiac of Terry Mower and Nick Green for the short Chunnel journey to France where we arrived after midnight.

UMG 662 Monte Carlo Rally 1954

In a way it was good to just cross the Channel near Dover rather than take the ferry from Hull. It was more in keeping with what the UK crews did in the past. Here is UMG 662 being checked aboard the ferry at Dover on its way to France on the Monte in 1954

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UMG Monte 16 2 Scrutineering

Scrutineering took place the afternoon before the start in unusually sunny conditions. The little side valve 3 speed Ford Popular on the right, a recent veteran of the Lands End – John O Groats Rally, proved surprisingly nimble and quick!

UMG Monte 16 3 JoG Civic Reception (Bertie Sutherland's niece - Lord Lieutenant of Caithness)

The Lord Lieutenant of Caithness made all the crews welcome at a civic reception in John O Groats the evening before the start. The rally plaques on the wall behind her belonged to her uncle Ian Sutherland who competed on the Monte many times in the fifties with his brother, Bertie. Much to my surprise it turned out Bertie Sutherland had owned UMG 662 in the seventies. The rally took us through Golspie and right past the front door of the garage where the car had sat under restoration for 10 years!

UMG Monte 16 4 JoG start

With new LED headlights burning brightly we were flagged off at dawn from John O Groats by the Lord Lieutenant of Caithness. Despite the bitter cold and early hour we were grateful that a large number of local people assembled to see us off. We were also given bags with local delicacies including miniature bottles of local whisky and some homemade biscuits. The hospitality of the people of John O Groats was magnificent.

UMG Monte 16 6 Cairngorm snow

After a spectacular drive down the coast to Inverness (following the route of the 1926 rally) we headed up towards Aviemore and  the Cairngorms. The weather deteriorated and we were hit by a blizzard of sleet and snow.

UMG Monte 16 5 Cairngorms snow

We had taken the precaution of fitting period demisters but neither they nor the wipers could cope. Luckily this was the worst weather we were to encounter on the whole rally.

UMG Monte 16 8 Gleneagles

As is often the case in Scotland the bad weather cleared as quickly as it arrived. By the time we made it to Perth the sun was shining. The road from Perth to Glasgow took us past the famous Gleneagles Hotel. I could not resist stopping at the hotel for a photo. In 1953 Gregor Grant driving UMG 662 won his class in the driving tests held at Gleneagles during the Coronation Rally. This was probably the first time the car had been back in 63 years!

UMG 662 Scottish Rally 1953

UMG 662 on the Scottish Coronation Rally 1953

 

 

 

UMG Monte 16 10 Paisley

The traditional start of the Monte in the UK is Glasgow but in recent years, the largest town in Scotland, Paisley has taken on the mantle. It was at paisley we met up with the cars doing the Historique rally to Monte Carlo as well as 20 or more cars doing local “Monte Heritage” runs from Paisley to Dumfries. The paddock was just by the Old Abbey and Town Hall. The Provost of Paisley very kindly welcomed us to a civic reception in the town hall whilst the hundreds of members of the public who had turned up to see the start had the opportunity to inspect all the cars and chat to the drivers.

UMG Monte 16 11 Paisley 2

Last minute tweaking for the Historique cars. The McGibbon Volvo Amazon at the front went on to win the Saltire Cup from the Glasgow start committee. White / Brown crewing the Rover 2000 beyond won the Thistle Cup.

UMG Monte 16 12 Paisley 3

The Classique cars waiting for the off. The Triumph Herald Coupe was driven to Monte by Glasgow start organiser Douglas Anderson.

UMG662 - Paisley Start, Monte Carlo Classic Rally 2016

The start of each car from the gantry was greeted by fire works and the cheers of over a thousand spectators. The very warm welcome given to the Rally by the people of Paisley was greatly appreciated.

There are a number of videos on YouTube showing the evening at Paisley including this one which (at 7.45) inexplicably focuses on yours truly treating the car to a general tighten up after the long run down from John O’ Groats.