The main TVR Car Club event for 2001 was held on the Isle of Man from the 26 to 30 July. 74 TVRs made the ferry crossing to the island and the general feeling amongst the 140 drivers and passengers was that it was one of the best TVR events ever held.
The weekend started off on the Thursday at various ferry terminals as everyone met up to make the crossing to the Island. No vehicle was allowed to board until it had received a ritual dowsing in Foot and Mouth disinfectant, this saw a number of members frantically trying to wash it off immediately after but was far worse for anyone on a motorbike as they had to drive through the spray as well!
We were met at the Isle of Man port of Douglas by a swarm of FAD organisers in their yellow shirts who handed out detailed arrival packs of information and directed everyone to their hotels (we had all been given a choice of hotels on the island!). After a day or afternoon of settling in depending on arrival time it was off to the Welcome meeting at the House of Mannanan in Peel. Drinks and very impressive 'nibbles' preceded welcome speeches from TVR organiser Stuart Milne and the Isle of Man Tourism Minister. This was follwed by a safety talk from the local Constabulary who advised those that didn't know that there are actually no speed limits outside built up areas on the Isle of Man! and so long as we took care then we were told to go and enjoy ourselves - not often you hear this from a Policeman! The 70+ TVRs then departed for their Hotels.
The main event of the first day was the Trackday at Jurby. This proved to be exceptionally well organised by the FAD yellowshirts again and seemed to be enjoyed by spectators and participants alike. Having only had my Griffith 4.3 a matter of months and never having 'done' a trackday before I elected to just go and watch on this occasion. This proved to be the wrong decision as the circuit although boasting the longest straight in the UK was very simple and accessible. All those taking part were very professional and friendly, and although the idea of a trackday can be very intimidating for 'first timers' there seemed to be no pressure and certainly no-one taking themselves too seriously. The always present risk that something may go wrong with your TVR was also covered as there was a specialist TVR mechanic attending with his van loaded with spares - although I didn't actually see him doing any business - so much for the TVR reliability myth then!
That evening the yellow FAD machine swung into action with an exceptionally well organised Caribbean BBQ. On arrival at Glen Helen everyone was draped in flower garlands and then fed to bursting by the Chef and his team who worked long and hard under very smoky conditions. To prepare for the Viking longboat races 'Ganja John' Hall in full multicoloured and dreadlocked ensemble presided over the four team captains who submitted potential crew members to ritual humiliation in their efforts to be selected.
Saturday was started with a drive around the original TT circuit. Once again the FAD crowd had been busy as the entire route was marked with bright yellow route signs ensuring absolutely no one got lost. After a mid way stop for coffee at Glen Helen we finally ended up at Ramsey where yet another buffet spread of huge proportions had been laid on. This was followed by a raffle of various TVR related items (and some curious knitted golf hats!).
Lunch had hardly had time to settle before it was on with the Viking longboat races. Various levels of seriousness were displayed by the four teams - all wearing their team sponsors shirts and some with horned Viking helmets as they sweated their way up and down the lake in blazing sunshine. A total of £600 was raised for the local Manx Mencap charity.
The first photo above shows all the TVRs lined up at the TT grandstand on Sunday in Douglas. This was impressive enough in itself, but it was taken just after all the cars had experienced the drive of a lifetime up 12km of the hill climb section of the TT circuit - this had been specially closed for the TVR Club!
We had all met up in Ramsey and after a briefing by the marshals we were set off in groups of 20 or so. We had been advised to sort ourselves out into order with the more speed hungry and experienced at the front of each group. The pace cars proved to be rental Ford Focus's but I don't think anyone caught them up. As the roads were closed there was no risk of oncoming traffic so we had all the road to go at. The sun shone, it was a lovely quiet morning on a very picturesque island - then all hell broke loose as 70+ TVRs gave it their all with speeds of 130+ quoted, assuming you didn't catch up with the TVR in front! Everyone agreed it was fantastic - and one certain person even managed to get in the first group then tear round the island and get into the last group as well! Mentioning no names of course but he had taken the dreadlocks off!
Once everyone had arrived back at the TT Grandstand certificates were given out for completion of the circuit and after a brilliant photo opportunity we moved onto the car park behind the grandstand for the concours. Obviously all the cars had just screamed halfway around the TT circuit so this was definately not based on cars that had been in preparation for weeks and never been driven.! I suspect a lot of people voted for the TVRs with the least number of dead flies on them!
As we had been given free tickets for the 'History of Mann' attraction the House of Mannanan at Peel we decied we would at least have a quick look that afternoon. We expected to whizz round it quickly and go for a coffee - three or four hours later we emerged. It is no wonder that it has won awards as it was extremely well presented with many life size interactive scenarios, including a full size viking longboat on a beach inside the building.
The Gala dinner at the Hilton hotel in Douglas was the grand finale. Professional photographers had followed us all round the island and hundreds of photos were on display and available to buy. This gave many the opportunity to actually get a photo of your TVR with you driving it - something that is almost impossible normally as we all know. The Scottish TVRCC regions had organised the event and they along with our Isle of Man organisers and hosts were escorted into the dinner by a very good Manx pipe-band.
After the dinner concours prizes were given out, the overall winner being a particularly nice yellow Vixen and best Wedge going to my co-regional organiser for Cumbria Adrian McMullin. This was followed by an auction of donated TVR related items including bits of Peter Wheelers tuscan racer and track day tickets etc. In total with the auction and long boat race we raised a fantastic £3,200 for Manx Mencap. Apparently this was also significantly more than the Porsche club managed!! Thanks were given to the TVRCC Scottish contingent for setting up the event. Dixie Dean and the FAD Promotions yellow shirts for exceptional organisation on the island and David Cretney the Minister for Sport and Tourism (or as he put it the Minister for Fun) who apparently is a bike nut.
In our time on the island it was definately noticeable that everyone was happy to see lots of noisy TVRs - a nicer bunch of people you couldn't wish to meet. We should definately go back.
Personally I have heard many members say that it seemed expensive, and yes in the first place it did seem that way for a 4 day event. However if all the individual items and events were added together then in actual fact it proved to be an absolute bargain. The TVR Club and the Regions especially have many events to suit all pockets, this cost more than most but offered far more than most for those that took part - it was an experience of a lifetime. Remember if you just wanted economical motoring you could always buy a mini!
Thanks to everyone who organised it and attended, for making it what it was.
Paul Calland, RO Cumbria