MG Car Club - Midland Centre

Silverstone International 2008

A Midland Centre Retrospective

Well, another MG Car Club International event at Silverstone has come and gone and, as has been the case for the past few years, the Midland Centre provided volunteers to undertake campsite marshalling and control.

Thus, on the Thursday, a team led by Centre Chairman John Fry arrived early (well, around 10.00am anyway) to start marking out the 300+ camping pitches for the weekend's visitors. One team was allocated the main camp site area adjacent to the principal access road, whilst the other team went over to the 'quiet camping' area further round the circuit. Several hours, a couple of rain showers, and countless wooden stakes later, all the pitches had been marked out, albeit that the alignment of some of the rows of stakes resembled a dog's back leg! There was some concern over where the caravans and motorhomes were going to be parked, but everyone went to bed with hope in their hearts that we would have a successful weekend, some staying overnight on site, whilst others drove home and then back again on Friday morning.

Midland Centre members set up camp

Scott Munton and friends build their own 'eco-town'!

And successful it proved to be, on the whole. Yes, there were one or two unhappy campers who had their 'favourite pitch' aspirations dashed, but the majority were cheerful, pleasant and co-operative. We had our usual contingent of foreign and continental guests, and no Silverstone International would be complete without the requisite party of Dutch, complete with van housing a huge beer tank, loudspeakers and a flat screen TV, all the better to watch the footie with! Their encampment was the centre of orange celebrations when Holland beat the French 4-1 on Friday night, and they didn't even complain when a number of Midland Centre members invaded their large tent to watch the match with them. It has to be said that they continued their celebrations well past the curfew hour of 0100am, requiring a few discrete words from Midland Centre campsite marshals, and all the wooden stakes in the vicinity of their encampment seemed to have been used as kindling for their camp fire, but they are invariably a very friendly, sociable and well-behaved group who enliven the camp site, and so can be forgiven a few minor transgressions.


The Dutch encampment


                                                  Enjoying the footie - shame about the Russia game!                                             

Looking over the main camp site

With this being the Midland Centre's 75th Anniversary year, it was felt that we should resurrect the BBQ that had been missing in the preceding years. Committee member Paul Hollingworth kindly volunteered to organise the affair, and supplied a considerable shopping list for which a group of us, on the Friday lunchtime, conducted a 'rally raid' on the Tesco store in Towcester. You know, it's amazing just how much food you can cram into the back of an MG Maestro, and we apologise to anyone who was unable to obtain bread rolls, burgers or sausages following our shelf-clearing exercise! Friday night saw a large group congregate in the Midland Centre marquee to enjoy a tasty feast of burgers & hot dogs, accompanied by salad, coleslaw, squeezy cheese (with thanks to Steve Hipkiss for that bright idea) and various sauces. It has to be said that there were also some very enjoyable alcoholic beverages available, but modesty forbids that we go into too much detail! Fortunately, the food and drink lasted us over both the Friday and Saturday evenings, despite the best efforts of everyone to polish off as much as possible, to the extent that there was very little wastage. Many thanks to Paul for organising both evenings, to Boyce Wheal and Neil Davies for sorting out the ale, and to Paul & Steve Hipkiss and everyone else who helped with the shopping and the transportation of food, beverages and the BBQ burners.

Midland Centre members try not to burn their sausages!

As a part of the 75th Anniversary celebrations, the committee had decided that we should have a presence in the main marquee, and so arrangements were made to have a display stand there. With the help of Paul Hipkiss and son Steve, and with considerable assistance from John Inness from MGCC HQ, on Friday morning we set up a pair of tables in the middle of the marquee, together with display boards adorned with photos of various Midland Centre events, and also information of forthcoming events such as the Chairman's Picnic at Upton House in August and the 75th Anniversary Luncheon at the National Motorcycle Museum in October. We were joined on the stand by friends from the Kilsby MG group, who are organising the Chairman's Picnic on behalf of the Centre, and those of us who spent time on the stand were able to meet a variety of members, old and new, as well as chatting to people from other Centres and Registers nearby. The committee felt that the stand was a considerable success, and we hope to repeat the exercise in 2009 and beyond. Many thanks to the Kilsby group for their kind assistance, and we look forward to further collaboration in the future.

Midland Centre committee member (and chief BBQ-ist) Paul Hollingworth manning the stand

Although the Midland Centre's main task over the weekend is campsite control, it's not all we do, and our Chief Marshal Malcolm Garrett was over on the Hanger straight taking charge of the Sprint, whilst Centre committee members David Wood, of Luffield Cars in Loughborough, and Dave Price were both out on track competing in their relevant categories.

Midland Centre committee member David Wood in action in his yellow ZR

Thankfully, apart from a couple of brief showers, the weather stayed generally dry and pleasant over the whole weekend,  although it was flipping cold in the tents at night, made worse for those with weak bladders who were obliged to make the dash to the portaloos during the early hours ... some more than once!

Sunday afternoon saw members start the camp site clear-up operation with removal of all the remaining wooden stakes that the campers hadn't used for fire wood, plus all the marker tapes, together with the usual resolutions for improving the process next year. By mid-afternoon, tents were being dismantled and everyone started to make their way home.

It is fair to say that everyone who attended, and who joined in with Midland Centre activities, had an enjoyable weekend and we hope to see you all there again next year. Of course, if there are any Midland Centre members out there who feel like lending a hand, we are always looking for extra help. You'll be made most welcome, we usually have a good laugh, and there are certain fringe benefits, although there were some among us who found the pace a little too hectic -

Either that, or the sounds of Bev Pegg and his particular style of 'Trad Jazz' proved rather soporific.

Or it could have been the scotch ...

If you are interested in getting involved in 2009, just contact any of the committee members shown on the relevant web page to offer your services.

The Midland Centre committee and organisers wish to express their thanks to everyone who volunteered to play a part in making this another successful weekend.

More photos, including some of the Sprint and racing competitors, can be found at the Midland Centre Facebook site -

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