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Autocross 2021: Battle of the Brits!

November 02, 2021 12:08 PM | Scott Hardy (Administrator)

A crisp October morning greeted the participants in this year’s autocross event hosted by the Texas Triumph Register. Held annually at the Houston Police Academy training track, an autocross provides enthusiasts like us with the opportunity to drive their cars in the manner for which they were designed. That is to say, drive it like you stole it! But you can do so in the safety of a closed circuit with the only obstacles being plastic pylons marking the course.

The host club had arrived early to litter the training track with orange traffic cones, marking the figure eight track into a maze of twists and turns. After the participants arrived and finished their coffee, the organizers went through the track procedures and led the group on a parage lap through the maze of cones. Which left everybody to wonder how they were ever going to remember the correct route through the piles of pylons. (Spoiler: many did not!)

The hosts required that the cars be cleared of loose items in the cab and boot, and all cars had to pass a tech inspection. Surprisingly, all did. All drivers who did not bring their own helmets were given a colorful balaclava and a loaner helmet to complete their drives. And so the competition began, with the cars being divided into four heats and drivers being allotted four timed laps each.

The cool morning air was soon shattered with the sound on snarling exhausts and squealing tires as the autocrossers attempted to better their times with each succeeding lap. And those who overestimated the abilities of their classic cars to negotiate the twisties soon provided spectators with some impressive drifts and smoky slides. A special shout out to Pete Sandy, who guided his big Healy through, by consensus, the most entertaining slide of the day. Special mention to Gord Bard for his numerous trips off the tarmac and to Ken Evesson for his brilliantly executed 180° drift to conclude his day on the track.

The HMGCC was able represented by the aforementioned drivers as well as Rich Colwell, Glenn and Fran Carpenter, Renne and Clair Lanphier, Scott and Trish Hardy, Dwight Dawson, Larry Lovins and Steve Loden.

The event was not limited to just Triumphs and MGs, as more modern machinery was also allowed to run. But there is no doubt that the older cars, while they may have been slower, were much more fun to follow as they skittered through the course squealing their tires, smoking their brakes, and listing through every turn.

The Triumph club had a special surprise at the end of the day. They had a trophy made which would be presented to either the Triumph or the MG club, depending on which classic British marque’s devotees had the best average lap times. In a remarkably close decision, which may or may not have come down to some creative Hollywood bookkeeping, the MG club took home the inaugural presentation of the Lucas Memorial Cup. Said trophy will be proudly on display at the Christmas gala in December for all club members to ogle.

The only blot on an otherwise perfect day was that the number of Triumphs greatly outnumbered the number of MGs. All HMGCC participants agreed that the autocross was a wonderful day to spend with your car and fellow club members. Nothing quite matches the adrenalin rush of pressing your car and your skills to the limit, trying to put together the perfect lap. And even if you will never be the reincarnation of Stirling Moss, the excitement of working the steering wheel through the pylons is worth the price of admission. You enjoy the same fun factor regardless of skill level.

Enjoying an event like this is definitely something all club members should seriously consider, and the good news is that you will have another chance to do so in the spring!

-       Story and photos by Dwight Dawson and Scott Hardy

Contact Us:  HoustonMGCarClub@gmail.com

Houston MG Car Club

PO Box 40711

Houston, TX   77240. 

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