You can relive a bit of British Grand Prix history – in just about any car you like

Whether your car is a MINI or a 911 - it can take part in events at Aintree circuit

IT’S NOT often that you can say a Fiat Stilo is as good at something as a Porsche 911 is – but then it’s not every day that parts of the old Aintree race circuit are opened up for go-faster fun.

No, not that Aintree circuit – if you’ve ended up here by mistake because you’re actually looking for The Champion sports pages then I’m afraid to say that there are no jockeys, highly decorated ladies’ hats or whinnying thoroughbreds here. Nope, this particular course is the one famed for racing of the motor variety, including the very first British Grand Prix won by Sir Stirling Moss. He tackled it in a single-seater Mercedes W196 – but if you wanted to follow in his tyre tracks last weekend then all you needed was a racing helmet and a secondhand hatchback.

Liverpool Motor Club holds a couple of track days a year on the surviving bits of the track – and for a fiver to spectate I reckon it’s a bargain-priced way of spending a couple of hours listening to screeching tyres and watching all manner of motors scrabbling for the best lines through the sweeping right-handers. I popped along last Saturday during the Bank Holiday weekend and the thing that surprised me was the mind-boggling variety of what was out on track. Sure, you’d expect Elises, 911s and Honda Type-Rs on a track day, but I wasn’t expecting the next car to barrel into the first corner to be an 05-registered Fiat Stilo. Or a TVR Tuscan virtually unchanged from when it took part in the bonkers Tuscan Challenge race series 20 years ago. Or an Opel Manta, for that matter.

It’s good, old-fashioned car-related fun that doesn’t get hung up on who’s got the priciest entry or the quickest lap time – there was a chap with a Lister ‘Knobbly’ continuation racer, for instance, but the chaps taking part in Ford Fiestas had equally big grins on their faces after venturing back into the paddock.

More importantly, it keeps part of the North West’s motoring heritage alive – yes, I know that the full Aintree circuit that Sir Stirling would’ve diced with Fangio on closed in the 1960s, but by having Porsches and Lotuses screeching around the club circuit it keeps the idea that Aintree isn’t just about horse racing in the wider public imagination.

And any element of keeping history that involves hoofing about in a Fiat Stilo has got to be worth it for the amusement factor alone. Count me in.

The yellow car convoy says a lot about our motoring freedom


FIRST they came – to badly misquote Martin Niemöller – for the owners of yellow Vauxhall Corsas.

But car lovers across the country did speak out, by effectively telling aggrieved residents of the Cotswold village of Bilbury to get stuffed. You might have read about Peter Maddox, the 84-year-old man whose brightly hued supermini was vandalised by people who objected to it being parked in the picturesque village.

So owners of yellow cars from across the UK are responding by organising an entire convoy to pay the villagers a visit later this spring. As long as it’s all above board – and the organisers are in talks with the local council to make sure it is – I completely support it.

This from someone who hates the Vauxhall Corsa. But I hate curtain-twitching, NIMBY-ist busybodies who resent car enthusiasts lawfully enjoying their hobby even more.

If someone doesn’t like a yellow Corsa I respect their right to poke fun at it, but to scratch someone’s pride and joy, smash its windows in and scrawl the word ‘MOVE’ on it is completely beyond the pale. It’s as though someone watched the hit film Hot Fuzz, where resentful locals forcefully kill or remove anything or anyone that ruins their chances of winning the Best Village award, and thought it was a documentary.

It’s the same with people who write to the council because they object to their neighbour having a partially restored Triumph Spitfire on their driveway or those who take racetracks to court for being a bit noisy, even when the circuit was there long before their house was. Objecting so strongly to someone’s choice of car – and what they do with it, as long as it’s legal – is absurd.

I’d hate to think people who read about Peter’s car and thought ‘Oh, good’ aren’t emboldened by it, because they’ll move on to green Chrysler PT Cruisers and lowered Audi A3s next. Then it’ll be those Toyota MR2s that have been body-kitted to look like Ferrari F355s, followed by people who drive Range Rover Sports and BMW X5s with oversized alloys. Owners of Nissan Jukes, even in completely standard form, should be looking worried by this point.

Then they’ll come for the owners of MGB GTs with slightly flaky paintwork. Only they won’t, because car fans are letting them know now that it’s a ridiculous idea. I may not agree with your yellow Vauxhall Corsa, but I’ll defend to the death your right to drive it.

Originally published in The Champion newspaper on 15 February, 2017

Classic cars pack into Southport pub for new meet


ADMITTEDLY the car park behind The Arion pub in Ainsdale isn’t massive, but filling it with classics on a quiet weekday night at a new event is still quite an achievement.

Aintree Circuit Club – which is also behind the Ormskirk MotorFest – says the first of its monthly meets on Wednesday (7 September) was a big success, with 50 petrolheads from across Southport bringing their cars along. The turnout included three Jaguar E-types, six Minis, a Jensen Healey, an MG RV8 and two Austin-Healeys.


The next weekday meet takes place on 5 October from 6.30pm, and the first of the club’s Sunday morning meets – which also take place at The Arion – starts at 9am on 3 October.

Ormskirk MotorFest 2016 – in pictures

IMG_2494MASSIVELY enjoyed this weekend’s Ormskirk MotorFest – and so did you, if the number of petrolheads lining the Lancashire market town’s streets was anything to go by.

There’ll be more on this year’s event in this Wednesday’s edition of The Champion and in Classic Car Weekly, but for now here are few snaps from the classic car parades around the one-way system:







Keep an eye on Life On Cars later this week for a full report on the 2016 Ormskirk MotorFest.


Take your pride and joy to the Mawdeseley Classic Car Show

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CLASSIC CAR owners are across Sefton and West Lancashire are being encouraged to enter their vehicles into a show in the Lancashire village Mawdesley on May 30.

So far more than 50 cars have been entered into the event at the cricket club, which takes place between 1pm and 4pm, and there’s also a road run in the morning.

The Car Show is free to enter but space is limited and places will be allocated to the first 90 cars that register. There will be a £10 charge to those entering the morning run to cover the costs of providing prizes and the rally plaques. Visitors to the event will be charged £2 each, or 50p for those under 16s, on entry. All those arriving in a classic car, including passengers, will be given free entry.


For more information go to Mawdesley Cricket Club’s website.

The big journey – and the wrong car – behind an epic Drive-It Day

ccw cover 27 aprilI’M ALMOST ashamed to admit it. Drive-It Day is all about getting your classic car out of the garage and taking it for a spin – yet I spent 350 miles of it at the helm of a borrowed Skoda Yeti.

As much as I’d have loved to have used the MGB GT over the weekend I felt it would’ve been verging on cruel to put it through my latest mission for Classic Car Weekly – going to not one, but three of the many events taking place across the North of England on a single day. Oh, and a long motorway slog back to the offices in Peterborough just for good measure.

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After a (very) early start the first Drive-It Day calling point was Blackburn’s Northern Sports Club, which the Lancashire Automobile Club was using as the start point of its St George’s Day run. It’s a superb event that takes in some of the best country lanes cris-crossing the Lancashire/Yorkshire border, but Classic Car Weekly’s mission of getting as many of your photos as possible meant all the legwork went into making sure as many of the E-types, Austin-Healeys and their smiling owners were getting their pictures sent off for today’s paper. Even Steve Berry of Top Gear fame got his snap sent off – he wasn’t taking part, but he’d come along anyway in his Alfa 156 to see all the congregated classics.

As the 75 cars headed off towards the Lancashire countryside I was heading the other way – up the M6 to another Drive-It Day gathering, this time at the Lakeland Motor Museum. It didn’t feel as busy as last week’s similarly named Drive-In gathering but as the museum’s management rightly point out, last Sunday was all about classic car owners using the venue as a stopping point during tours rather than it being an event venue in its own right. That’s why it ended up being the sort of event to reward car nuts who hang around – the cast of cars would change completely by the hour!


But the best Drive-It Day gathering involved getting back on the M6 and venturing even further north; a lot of the classic owners who’d brought their cars to the Lakeland museum mentioned they were heading on to Dalemain, a Georgian mansion on the other side of the Lake District. After deciding on a hunch to follow them up this is what I was treated to when I got there:


It was a superb event, organised by Wigton Motor Club, and with just about every size and shape of classic imaginable on show. The 170 cars at Dalemain ranged from Ford Escort MkIs to 1950s specials, Rileys and Austin Sevens – and even though Drive-It Day technically caters for pre-1985 cars there were plenty of Mazda MX-5s, TVR Chimaera and Porsche 911 GT3s to look at too.

As I hit the road on the long slog back to Peterborough, I realised the sheer variety of cars at these three events across the northern England isn’t the whole Drive-It Day picture. Even the 500 pictures we’ve printed in today’s Classic Car Weekly only scratches the surface of just how many old cars go out on what surely must be Britain’s biggest petrolhead event, with shows, runs and gatherings taking place in every corner of the United Kingdom.

Drive-It Day is us showing the wider public what makes classic cars so brilliant (even if you do have to use a borrowed Skoda to see them). Hope your picture got into today’s Classic Car Weekly!

The Drive-It Day special issue of Classic Car Weekly is out now, with more than 500 pictures from across the UK inside.

This is every other classic car show you’ve ever been to

07082011734HUNDREDS of cars from yesteryear will be gathering in the grounds of a stately home this weekend for a two-day show.

The event will feature roughly the same cars as it’s done for the last four years, with highlights once again including displays from the Whimsley Boxed Ferret Owners’ Club, the Morris Dancers’ Register and the Lumley District Classic Vehicle Club. The Raspberry Hornet Owners’ Club and the Raspberry Hornet Driver’s Club will also be taking part, albeit at opposite ends of the show venue due to the animosity between the two clubs since their respective founders’ divorce was settled in court.

There’s plenty for human beings to enjoy too, with live falconry displays, a tombola, a competition to correctly guess the number of marbles in a jar and a stall selling cheeses at this year’s event. Don’t forget there’ll also be a catering van cooking burgers for £5.50 each and a hog roast, both of which will have fairly sizeable queues and 30 circling wasps to keep you entertained.

It’s one of the highlights of the year for the stately home in question, which you can also tour for another £18 on top of the show’s entry price.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on our website too, where you’ll be able to learn when the show’s been cancelled due to the ground being a bit too soggy.

Leisure Lakes classic car show postponed

IMG_0692JUST IN CASE you didn’t already know, the Leisure Lakes Steam and Vintage Rally originally due to take place in Lancashire this weekend has been postponed.

The two-day event – known up until last year as the Riverside Steam Rally – normally has a fairly sizeable classic car show to go alongside the star draw of all the historic trucks and traction engines, but soggy conditions at the venue have forced the organiser to pull plans to hold it at the Leisure Lakes holiday park in Tarleton.

It’s now scheduled to take place on 23-24 July – and fingers crossed the weather’s a bit cooperative in the height of summer than it has been in the North West lately!

If you’re still looking to get your classic fix this weekend there are two other petrolhead days out to look out for. The Lakeland Motor Museum’s holding its Classic Drive and Ride In Day this Sunday, and the Sandbach Transport Festival is taking over the centre of the Cheshire market town with its classic displays both tomorrow and on Sunday.

Whatever you’re up to with your pride and joy, have a great weekend!