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Club Newsletter

for members of MG Northumbria

March 2017
MG Northumbria club meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month.  Most months we have a presentation, often car related but not always.  In the past for example we have had talks and demonstrations covering such varied topics as
  • Car tyre advice
  • Northumbrian area history
  • Toys & model cars
  • Travels in New Zealand and North America
The next meeting is at Backworth Hall on Wednesday 1st March starting at 8:00pm. Come along and bring your subscription payment with you instead of posting them.

All subscriptions must be paid before the end of March to guarantee your continued membership and receipt of the newsletter.
Club nights remain very popular with lots of members.  Why not give one a try this year and meet other like-minded members, have a chat and/or a drink, ask others about problems you may be experiencing with your car, find out more about club runs, shows or other events etc.
If you’ve not been before, give it a try. (NB If you want to attend regularly you would need to become a social member of the club but it only costs £10 for a whole year).
In this
month's issue
Chairman's Chat
Quiz night
Les & Pam In Le Mans
Isle Of Man Trip
College Valley Run
Sponsors Links


Just a reminder to send your club or car related photos taken after the 2016 Heritage Run to Tim if you want them included in this year;s competition.

 Chairman's Chat  

Again another quiet month on the roads and I am writing this before we have our latest winter run on 26/2 from and to the Highlander at Belsay.
We have dug out a run from the archives, see more on the website. Thanks to Lorraine who has arranged some tables for lunch and to Ian McGregor who first did the route as an evening run, although this time there wont be
any driving tests in the car park.

The car show sub committee has met and re-assigned some of the roles to cover for those who have left the group.

Mel Edgar has taken over entries and as you have seen we are using a ticketing site called Billetto. This has an advantage over Eventbrite in that it allows us to ask for donations. So we have decided to do this rather than charge exhibitors.  We can also use it to sell discounted tickets to the public who buy in advance.

John Patterson has taken on traders and caterers, so if you know of any who may be interested let him know or tell them to follow the links from our website to the entry forms.

George Dalgarno will be organising the volunteers and although it is still a long way off would like you to give an indication if you will be available to help.  His target is 1 two hour shift each.

The February committee discussed the events programme, which is filling up.  I think Lorraine is providing a list of spare slots for the newsletter so if you would like to do one let her know.  If you havent done one before, we can find you a buddy to help.

Best wishes

This Month's Calendar
For Sale - spotted by Phill Kirkland in New Zealand.

Too big for your excess baggage Phil! (editor)
 Les & Pam In Le Mans
This is an article about some of our adventures on trips to Le Mans.  Firstly with Tyne and Wear MGOC, then MG Northumbria and finally Pam and I’s solo trips to meet up with our many European friends.
Our first trip with Tyne and Wear MGOC in our MG Midget was back in 1989, with Eric and Jackie Turtle (MG Midget 1275), Derek and Sheila Pickering (MG Montego), Dave Knott and Darren Davison (MGB GT), Dave White and Peggy Brown (MG Midget) and Clem and Anne Bains (MG Montego Turbo ‘Quicksilver’).  This was so highly modified, it could only carry 2 passengers, as the suspension had been lowered so much.  It also had a nitrous oxide system fitted, with a large nitrous oxide tank in the boot, so not much room for luggage!!  There were also a couple of members in a dark blue MG Midget from Gosforth, but I can’t remember their names.  They never actually made it to Le Mans, as they consumed too much drink on the overnight ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Le Havre, they decided to stay in Honfleur, just outside Le Havre, that day and catch up with us at Le Mans the next day.  We never saw them again until the return ferry crossing the following week.  They enjoyed Honfleur so much they decided to stay there for the duration of their holiday.  (No mobile phones back in those days, so
unable to keep in touch.)
We had a brilliant week, camped on Aire d’Accuell Maison Blanche (the famous White House) on the outside of the circuit in between the Porsche Curves and the start/finish straight.  The race was won by Joachim Mass, Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens in a Sauber Mercedes C9, no 63.  The other Mercedes C9 was driven by Michael Schumacher, broke down and did not make it to the finish.
The next time Pam and I went to Le Mans, we were in the NG TF.  I had just finished building the car a couple of weeks before and used this trip as a ‘shakedown’ and first trial run of approx 900 miles.  Luckily no major problems, apart from a bit of overheating whilst stuck in traffic on the way down to Portsmouth for the ferry to Le Havre.
A couple of years later, this time with MG Northumbria I think, we made a longer holiday of our Le Mans trip.  This time Pam and I travelled in our NG TF, along with Lee Morton and Scott (MGB GT) and David Greeves, then Club Chairman, (MGB Roadster).  We got the ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao, a 2 night crossing down to Spain.  When we docked in Bilbao early morning, we drove along the north coast of Spain and crossed into France, making our way to Biarritz, our base for the next week.  On arrival in Biarritz, we had a bit of a mishap.  Dave Greeves (who had a bit of a drink problem) unfortunately had too much to drink on the ferry crossing and was still ‘a bit unwell’.  On a steep descent into Biarritz, I braked for a T-junction and heard Dave, who was following behind me, shouting at his car ‘whoa whoa’ for it to stop.  Unfortunately he forgot to press the brake pedal and crashed into the back of my car, smashing the offside light lenses.  Unable to get any replacement lenses in Biarritz, I ended up buying new bulbs, painting some red (stop/tail light) and some orange (indicators).  These lasted until I got home and managed to locate new lenses. 
We spent a week at Residence des Pins in Biarritz.  We did day trips into the Pyrenees, we climbed some of the cols used in the Tour de France cycle race and found some brilliant driving roads.  One day we were enjoying a picnic up one of these mountain roads when we saw a family of eagles soaring on the updraft air currents.  There were two adults and three young.  Using the air currents they just climbed and climbed without any wing movement until they disappeared from sight.  We also had a few day trips into Spain to St Jean de Luz (on the border), then down to Pamplona-Irunea (where they run the bulls) and on to Col D’Ibardin.  After a week I Biarritz in hot sunshine we headed north through France for our second week at the race track at Le Mans, stopping at a field just outside the circuit owned by an Australian, John Della, who lived in Maison Blanche, the White House.  One day during the week, several gendarmes arrived and arrested John Della for tax evasion and fraud.  He was handcuffed and taken away, never to be seen again that week!  Pam also lost the keys to the NG at the White House while we were enjoying a meal there.  Luckily the keys were handed in so I didn’t have to hot wire the car
The next year, again in the NG, we spent a week at Le Mans, then a week at Le Mont St Michel on the Normandy coast, along with David Greeves, Derek and Sheila Pickering, Dave White, Lee Morton and Darren Davison.  One night while in Le Mont St Michel, the restaurant/bar, Darren ended up playing the piano, Dave Greeves was singing (he was a retired jazz musician) and a young girl from London (another jazz singer) joined in.  A brilliant time was had by all in the bar that night.
They were the early years for us and over the next 20 years or so we have visited the 24 Heures du Mans and have stayed on most of the official Aire d’Accuell (campsites) at the Circuit de la Sarthe.  These include Houx Annexe, L’Interieur Musee, Karting Nord and Beausejour, our latest base just inside the Porsche Curves, with its own private viewing embankment on the Porsche Curves.
Over these years we have met up with and built up quite a large group of friends from all over Europe and the UK.  The first of this group we met on Houx Annexe at the start of the “swimming pool years”.  They were from Cheltenham, London, Bristol and our “Geordie” group.  This was the first year we had a large swimming pool, which was very good for the very high temperatures we suffered that year.
This image has been passed by MGNBPC (the MG Northumbria Board of Photo Censors) as not suitable for small children or animals but consenting adults may view at their own risk.  And no, Les claims he was not breaking wind in the pool! - Editor
The next few years, which became the “motorhome years”, we stayed on Karting Nord.  Our group was getting larger each year and by then included 5 large American motorhomes, Winnebagos, Sunstreams etc and now 3 large swimming pools, which we arranged like a cloverleaf with a swim up bar in the middle complete with Moet Chandon ice buckets and the champagne ‘on tap’.  Again very good in the high temperatures.
Also during this period we had an old Leyland Atlantean bus painted in Team Gulf racing colours.  The bus had the roof cut off, downstairs was the bar, whilst upstairs was the viewing lounge with arm chairs and parasols for the shade.  This was parked alongside the track, which means we had our own private grandstand with a fantastic view onto the circuit.

These were the years our group started getting more European.  Pam and I first met up with Claus and Lone from Denmark, very good contacts as Claus drove a large articulated beer tanker for the Danish Royal Brewery and became our bierre supplier, selling us all the liquid refreshments at trade prices.  Claus also supplied the beer to a very large Danish group called “K-camp” which was Tom Kristensen’s supporters’ club.  Claus was known as “Bierre Claus” in this group.  Through this connection Pam and I became very good friends with Jacob Kristensen, Tom’s brother, and manager of K-camp.  Tom, who now has the nickname of “Mr Le Mans” has won the race more times than any other driver.  After his last victory in 2008 in the Audi R10 Tdi Pam and I got to meet Tom and his family in their private enclosure just after the race finished.  I got to hold the trophy Tom had just won and he apologised that it was still all sticky with champagne.
Another one of the highlights for me and my Le Mans trips include the year I drove down to Le Mans in the Bugatti Type 59 Replica.  We had been asked by the ACO officials if we would drive this car in the drivers’ parade but I had to decline the offer as the parade is very slow and proceeds at a walking pace right through the town centre.  This replica had a 3.8 litre Jaguar E Type engine and gearbox and its cooling system was very ‘borderline’ due to the very narrow front end of the bonnet, hence a small radiator.  If I had tried to drive it in the parade at walking pace, it would have overheated in less than 10 minutes.  So we had to say ‘no’ to the parade, but I did get to drive it around the circuit, which was extremely enjoyable.  I managed to get it up to over 140 mph on Mulsanne straight and it was still not flat out!  I had one of my Danish friends in the passenger seat – a young girl called Heidi.  After the run around the track Heidi asked me if I was a racing driver.  I replied I was not and she said “Les, you are flipping mad, or words to that effect”!  But she will never forget her run around track and neither will I.

Some of the fridges used to keep the beer cool (very important) and below table set for evening meal (did someone just invent glamping!)
We are now looking forward to this year’s race.  We have already booked our ferry crossings and our Aire D’Accuell Beausejour accommodation.  After a nightmare journey home last year, when we got held up in the Calais riots, we are using the Portsmouth-Caen overnight ferry instead of he cheaper Dover-Calais route.  Last year towing the caravan, it took us 6 hours to drive up from Le Mans to Calais, then the illegal immigrants decided to block the autoroute so it took us a further 6 hours to drive through Calais to the ferry terminal.  During this  6 hour blockage we were repeatedly ‘stoned’ by these immigrants.  Our friend in his MG RV8 had his roof slashed and a TVR near to us had a brick put through his rear window.  We were very lucky to get away with no damage to the car or the caravan, but it was a very frightening experience.
This year we are keeping well away from Calais and our route is via Portsmouth (360 miles), then overnight to Caen in Normandy and drive down to Le Mans (103 miles).  Each year we get asked by different MGN members about joining us on our trips to Le Mans.  If anyone is interested in joining us this year, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Thanks to Les and Pam Davison for this fascinating article
Isle Of Man Trip

The next part of your deposit is due on 20/3/17 and then on 3 April 2017. Please get in touch with Tim if you want to arrange a bank transfer.
    College Valley Run    

I can now confirm that the run into the College Valley will take place on Sunday 13th August 2017

Having confirmed this date, can those of you who previously expressed an interest please confirm your wish to take part by e-mailing me asap on  There will be a non refundable (but transferable) contribution to the Estate of £10:00 per car  which will be collected at a later date and I will confirm your registration by return e-mail before the end of March.

The numbers are limited to about 25 cars by agreement with the estate and preference will be given to those who contacted me originally.  If we have too many wanting to take part this year, it will be possible to do the run again next year.

Exact details will follow in a couple of months but I anticipate that it will start at around 10:30 from Heighly Gate car park.  

Peter Hyde


Thanks to all our sponsors for their continued support which helps us to produce this newsletter.  Visit their website using the links below or email them by clicking on the advert to find out more about their services.   
Premier Insurance Website
Lion Garage Website
Chic Doig Website
FGS Website
Sports Car Supplies Website
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