leisure lakes

The Woodvale Rally is gone – but not forgotten

SO LONG, Woodvale Rally. You’re gone, but not forgotten – but I’ll remember you in your prime whenever I look back.

Chances are you’ll have already read about the cancellation of this year’s event, but for me it’s a bit more than just any old car show being culled. The Woodvale Rally is the first one I remember going to, and the one that I’ve grown up with. It is the show that nurtured my love of anything with an engine in it.

For a long time since the early Nineties one weekend in early August meant wandering around an air base for hours, getting sunburnt. I remember going twice with the cub scouts on litter picking duties (and getting a nasty gash on my knee during the latter), as a youthful helper-out with various Land Rover and model railway stands, as a Champion reporter and – perhaps best of all – as a classic car exhibitor when my Minis and MGB took part.

The masses of old motors, the endless model aircraft displays, trade tents covering just about every hobby imaginable – I lovedall of it. Even the queues stretching right the way down the Formby Bypass as everyone crammed through the gates were somehow part of the fun. Sure, it was congestion, but it was a traffic jam with Triumph Stags and Jaguar E-types in it. I can understand completely if your local summer treat was the air show, or the flower show, but for me it was always the Woodvale Rally, and it was for most of the other car nuts I grew up with, too.

That’s how I’ll remember the Woodvale Rally, as the big, bustling, and normally stifling hot get-together at RAF Woodvale. Not the show at Victoria Park that followed it from 2012 onwards. I know that the discovery of asbestos at the original venue forced the organisers’ hands, but it just wasn’t the same. Family-friendly and fun? Undoubtedly. A weekend’s worth of great engineering and model aircraft displays, just as the event’s instigators intended when they set up the Rally back in 1971? Erm, not really.

I reckon that the original Rally’s petrolhead pull has been taken on by the Ormskirk MotorFest and, to a smaller extent, by events like the Lydiate Classic Car Show, but with the cancellation of this year’s event and the loss of the Manchester Classic Car Show I mentioned last month that there’s a real gap for another car-focused event in this part of the world. A full weekend packed with old cars and motorbikes, plus aircraft displays, model railways, steam engines and tractors. I reckon that the Leisure Lakes Steam Rally – back in Tarleton in June following 2018’s cancellation – will do the trick, but there’s room for another.

Hopefully someone high-up at RAF Woodvale is reading this. You know what to do…

Why grass and classic cars don’t mix

grassy eventFACEBOOK is a wonderful thing sometimes. Everyone had asked me whether I’d be taking my MGB over to the Leisure Lakes this weekend – but if I hadn’t checked the other night I’d have taken it to a postponed show in a waterlogged field.

No harm done; I stuck the show’s new dates in my diary and pointed the MGB’s nose up the M6 instead, and had a top day out at the Lakeland Motor Museum’s classic car gathering. Spare a thought though for the poor souls – and I know some of them came from right here in the North West – who headed off to Birmingham for an event called Pride of Longbridge.

It’s a brilliant event where you can see Austins, Rovers and so on in their thousands, but a combination of torrential weather the night before and a local authority rightly worried about ‘elf ‘n’ safety meant the park was out of the question. All this about three hours before the show was due to open. Months of hard work quite literally got washed away overnight.

The last thing I want to do is turn Life On Cars into a forum about global warming, but it’s the third time in the last 12 months I’ve encountered a car show that’s been canned due to the rain wreaking havoc the night before. In one instance the event was pulled just an hour before it was due to start – by which point I was already halfway down the M6. Nobody likes a show being shelved by the weather, but it does seem to be happening more often.

Blaming the show organisers clearly isn’t the answer – if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have all these brilliant events to take our cars to in the first place. Nope, I reckon the problem is right beneath us, it’s green and about three inches long.

Apologies if you’re a green-fingered type, but I’ll just come out with it. Grass is a rubbish material to hold events on.

For starters it makes every car show look the same. Whether you’re in Ormskirk or Inverness a field full of old cars is just that; a field full of old cars, with nothing to distinguish what part of the world you’re in. It’s also difficult to divvy up between all the various Triumph clubs taking part in an event without either spraying lines all over it or whacking wooden posts into it, and when you do it inevitably rains and then all your hard work is ruined.

Why aren’t we using town centres more? Ormskirk does a cracking job at drawing in shoppers with its MotorFest and I know Burscough Wharf’s hosted car displays to great effect – and if it rains on either, the show goes on. Why aren’t more empty car parks being freed up for car events? The costs and the public liability are the roughly the same – but you don’t get your shoes muddy.

It’s Britain, for goodness’ sake. We know it rains here every other day. Freddie Mercury was right when he said the show must go on – would he have cancelled because the grass was a bit 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!