“You two are brave,” said the bloke getting out of the daffodil yellow Lotus Europa lined up next to us at the Bicester Heritage Sunday Scramble. That we’d followed in from the M40. In the rain.
It had perhaps been a little optimistic to take an open-top car 40 miles in January to a classic motoring event. Hortense would have qualified just as easily for the special Old Stuff parking zone, with her roof, heater and windscreen wipers, and we would have been less damp and cold. But she is my daily drive and so it would not be as exciting.
It would also have been OK if Temporary Wingman had realised that it was a Lomax day, that when I said we’d take Hortense if the weather was bad a forecast with a mere 30% chance of rain didn’t qualify, and so he should have brought his bike gear. A one in three chance – not bad odds. “No, it means that it will rain for one hour in every three.”
But in four weekends time the Lomax is going to have to migrate to Scotland and I needed a test run, as our last outing was the run home from Orkney in September. Temporary Wingman, who we shall call Daniel Cleaver for now, for reasons you would understand if you saw him, did seem rather hopeful when the starter was turning and the engine was dry, but when I build engines I build them properly and with a cloud of white smoke there was no turning back. Other than to remove the battery charger and try reversing again.
You know you’re heading in the right direction when you have to give way to a beautiful big Bentley at the roundabout and line up behind it to get your barcode scanned. The Scramble takes place at the former Bomber Command base of RAF Bicester, now home to lots of specialist motoring and aviation heritage businesses. If I want to get Hortense’s front seat covers repaired, there’s a shed for that. And one for radiators, and one for race tuning, and a whole hangar full of cars draped in calm grey covers. Impressively, Mr Cleaver and the other chaps lined up by the viewing window could identify them all by the shape of their rears.
Highlights for me? Other than having someone to look at stuff with who doesn’t get distracted by sausages, it would have to be the beautiful early H-Van, hopefully not destined to become a crepe wagon, and a spectacular German race car called Fafnir. Oh, and the small boy who said “Your car is cool” as we set off for home. In the sunshine.