Miuke Wood’s memories of John Wadsworth

Many of you will have known John Wadsworth who sadly passed away recently (he was one of the longest standing members of the Lancashire Automobile Club).
Mike Wood was both a friend and fellow competitor with John and he has kindly put a few words together to give us some more deails on John’s exceptional life.
John Wadsworth
1937 – 2021
I had known John since I left school and most of us from Burnley lived in the same area, but to be accurate I was more aware of his father Edgar. I had been at school in the Isle of Man from the mid 1940’s and by the time I left in 1950 the seeds of Motor Sport had been sown because of the Manx TT. I badly wanted to race around the TT course like Geoff Duke on a Norton, obviously this was never to be.
Every January the Monte Carlo Rally took place and whilst the event was happening, the great Raymond Baxter reported its progress on the radio every night, no television in those days. Several times he would mention the name Edgar Wadsworth and I was thrilled to hear his name mentioned, John and I had yet to meet. Without doubt Edgar became my mentor.
As we lived in the same part of Burnley, John and I soon met along with others who had been away at boarding schools, including John Waddington. I am sure that I got to meet my hero Edgar at some point, later I got to know him very well.
Luckily for me I started navigating for John Waddington and we had quite a lot of success together, but around 1957 he packed it all in to look after the family textile business. I am sure that John Wadsworth would have started doing small club rallies around that period also; after all he did have the right DNA. In 1962 John asked me if I would navigate for him on the RAC Rally in his Mini Cooper, this was the year that RAC Rally started to use forest stages. We knew that we did not stand much chance of success, but it would give us a chance to see what those forest stages looked like. We did finish, not too badly I think, but definitely no awards. John continued rallying, but now his regular navigator and another Burnley resident was Alan Cooke. John did the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally with another local man, racing driver Geoff Breakell, they qualified as finishers, but were not highly placed.
Now we come to the year 1964, this has to be John’s best Motor Sport year ever. He and Alan entered the French Alpine Rally as private owners in John’s Mini Cooper 1275 S. For those who do not remember this was one of rallying’s hardest events and it was always every crews dream to win a Alpine Cup for a clean sheet, John and Alan did exactly that, an achievement seldom gained by a non works crew. Next, he entered and competed on the Tour de France Automobile, again a private entry and won his class. Now came the big one, the Spa-Sofia-Liege Rally (Marathon de la Route). A lot has been written about John and I on this event, so I will try and condense it a little.
BMC were entering five works cars for this rally, they were three Big Healey’s and two MGB’s. About three weeks before the rally I got a telephone call from Team Manager Stuart Turner saying that he was going to enter a works Mini and wanted John and I to crew it, in the same breath he said, a Mini has never finished this event and I do not expect this entry to be the exception Subsequently their main focus would be on the Healey’s and the MGB’s and therefore the service crews would not carry any Mini spares, they would have tyres for us and fuel, but that would be all.
The Liege, as it was fondly known, was 3,500 miles in length, incurring four nights and days motoring with only a one hour stop in Sofia. The roads in Yugoslavia as it was then known and Bulgaria were mostly unsurfaced and in parts extremely rough and this combined with the high average speeds imposed in both those countries made it almost impossibly challenging, particularly for a small car like a Mini. As I said previously much has now been documented about this 1964 event, but at the end of it all John and I got the Mini to the finish, the only Mini ever to accomplish this. Just for the record, only two Works BMC cars finished, Rauno Aaltonen and Tony Ambrose won the event in their Healey and we were the only other BMC finisher in next to last place, 20th out of 21. This was the last time the Liege would be run as a road event and our achievement was soon forgotten. However, over the years and what John and I achieved has risen to the top of the pond and it has now become a part of motor sport history. I must say at this point that about 75% of what we did was down to John, he did almost all of the driving because of the high speeds required, so in my opinion, but for him I would be not writing this now.
Time then moved on, John joined another friend and the two of them created a new and very successful local Financial Advisor business, Hartley Spencer. At some point in later on in years we were contacted by another ex-BMC Team Manager, Peter Browning and asked if we would help him run a Classic Touring event called the Prix des Alpes. We were both very happy to be involved in this and enjoyed many years running controls etc for Peter.
John however had not given up, he wanted more. Now into his 70’s and along with lifelong friend John Waddingtton, also in his 70’s they shared a Ford KA in various BTRDA and British Car Trials. At the same time he was competing with his two MX5’s in sprints, hill-climbs and autosolos, often doing two events in a weekend from his home base in Harrogate which he shared with his partner Nina. In 2017 aged 80, John competed on 51 events; he was Class1 MSA British CarTrials Champion and was 3rd overall in the prestigious BTRDA Allrouders Championship.
What a Motor Sport career. He was an excellent and safe driver, but most of all he was a good friend. I will sadly miss him.
Mike Wood
John (on the left) with Mike, on the Liege

Medal from 1905 on sale

We believe this medal is from the Lancashire Automobile Club’s predecessor the North East Lancashire Automobile Club.
We can trace our roots back to 1902 and are recognised as the second oldest motor club in the UK. W Birtwistle was one of our members at the time. The 200 mile non stop run in 1905.
All the finishers received an engraved medal. I believe this is the first one I have seen.
The Committee decided that this was such an important part of the Club’s history that the seller was contacted and the medal secured for the Club.

Coast to Coast Classic Car Run 10th July 2021

Last Saturday saw our 28th Coast to Coast Classic Car Run. Starting as normal from the Midland Hotel in Morecambe, who made us most welcome, we made our way via the Lune and Wray valley’s to the Helwith Bridge Inn who couldn’t have been more accomodating.
After a refreshment stop we went via Malham and Stumps Cross Cavern to our lunch halt at The Inn at South Stainley. The Inn is under new ownership but the arrangements worked out well.
The next leg took us via Boroughbridge to Bylands Abbey and Rosedale Abbey to Scripps Garage in Goathland. In this section we came across a rather serious accident where a group of cyclists had suffered injuries. We wunderstand that one of the leading cyclists struck a pothole causing him to fall off. He was them hit by many of the following riders. When the Course Car arrived the accident had just occured and there was cyclists still climbing out of ditches and hedges. Several entrants stopped to assist and give first aid. One casualty appeard to be pretty badly hurt and went to hospital in an ambulance. Another appered to have broken ribs and others various cuts and bruises. POt holes are a menace to us but normaly we suffer suspension and wheel damage for cyclists the results can be far worse.
The event finished at Dunsley Hall just north of Whitby where we parked on the lawn for the cars to be judges by our President, Mike Raven, for the Presidents Award. He narrowed the entry down to three cars a Morris Minor, a Ford Capri and the eventual winner a Lancia Fulvia. In addition Frances Harrison presnted an award in memory of her husband Richard who marshaled on every Coast to Coast up to his passing last year. The Club gave FRances a special award for her services to the event.
Following that those who stayed at the hotel had a woderful evening.
A most enjoyable day all round.

Royal Lancashire Show 30th July, 31st July & 1st Aug 2021 at Salesbury Hall, Ribchester

The Royal Lancashire Show is on the 30th July to the 1st of August this year and the Lancashire Automobile Club has been invited to attend as part of  an exhibition of Vintage and Classic Cars.

Of course the Show isn’t all about the Vintage and Classic Cars it is Lancashire’s Premier Summer Family event held annually at Salesbury Hall in Ribchester, the Royal Lancashire Agricultural Show will be packed full to the brim of Showjumping, Livestock Displays, The Return of the Black Stallion, Incredible Falconry Shows, A Children’s Village and so much more.

Things are a little different in that entry forms can be applied for directly from the organisers:

Wendy Wainwright, Office Manager, Royal Lancashire Agricultural Show, Suite 40,Manor Court, Salesbury Hall Road, Ribchester, Preston, PR3 3XR. Tel: 01254 814712 or email office@rlas.net

Please find click on the link below for the application form containing full details.

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Manchester to Blackpool – photos

Lancashire Autombile Club – Manchester to Blackpool Classic Car Run. Sunday 13th June.
After a break last year the Lancashire Automobile Club continued with it’s annual Manchester to Blackpool Classic Car Run, now in it’s 59th year.
Obviously things had to be organised a little differently this year but as an ‘organised sporting activity’ the event was allowed to proceed with strict compliance to current regulations and guidance.
Without the assistance of Blackpool Council the event could not have taken place so the Club was delighted that the Mayor, Councillor Amy Cross, took the time to welcome the entrants to Blackpool. This year the traditional Concours element on Stanley Park was dispensed with so the entrants enjoyed a simple run from Manchester to Blackpool via a circuitous route taking in Belmont and a coffee halt at Heskin Hall.
The route then went to Bowker at Preston Dock before entering the Fylde and going through Wrea Green on it’s way to Lytham then all the way up the front to finish on Princess Parade next to the Metropole.
To say Blackpool was busy is an understatment and the drive along the Promenade proved a challenge to 50 year old cooling systems but no incidents were reported amongst the 61 entries ranging from a 1913 Sunbeam 12/16 4 seater sports tourer through to a much newer Porsche Boxster.
Here are a few pictures from the run.

St Georges Day H&H Auctions Awards

Those of you who were out on our St Georges Day Run may not have noticed a representative of H&H Auctions out and about on the event. It was Adam Sykes armed with is trusty camera. His intention was to choose his favourite car on the day. But in the end he was so impressed with the entry he selected three cars. So we asked him to rank them – not an easy task but we now have his decision.

 

In third place we have  Richard Woods fantastic Mercedes SL600.

 

 

 

 

Moving back in time we have the 1951 Jaguar XK120 of Callum Hewitt.

 

 

 

 

 

But the car which Adam finally settled on as his favourite was Jim Clarke’s 1953 Mercedes 300S  

Many thanks Adam hope you enjoyed your day.

St George’s Day Run – Photos

Just a few pictures from a most enjoyable day. Startingand Finishing at Blackburn Northern Sports taking in some of the Ribble Valley, Pendle Hill, Downham, Trawden to a coffee stop at Colne. Then on to Hebden Bridge before returning via the Grane Road and Pleasington.

Great cars and great company.

Many thanks to Mike Wood, Eileen Dyson and Alan Shawfor the shots.

Rally of the Bridges – photos

Well the Rally of the Bridges took place under the watchful eye of our Clerk of Course Geoff Awde. With over 40 entrants dating from the 1920’s to almost the present day there was something for everyone.

As the name implies the event crossed a fair number of bridges on the Lancaster Canal as well as motorway, rivers and streams. The wet weather the week beore also gave us a couple of fords we weren’t expecting!

In total over the 72 miles of the route we crossed over 53 bridges and went under 4 making a grand total of 57 bridges.

The weather was most kind and we can’t give enough thanks to the Whearsheaf in Garstang for hosting the start and finish.

Below are just a few of the pictures taken at the start and en route by rally legend Mike Wood plus a few of my own taken at Brock Bottoms.

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Classic Cars on Lytham Green – Sunday 27th June

Classic Cars on Lytham Green FY8 5QJ

This fantastic event was postponed last year due to the lockdown. The organisers have now announced the 2021 date. The event is provisional but  hopefully the 27th June will see a fantastic display of vintage and classic cars on the Green
The event supports Rosemere Cancer Foundation, entry on the gate £15 per car (cash only).
Enter our ‘FREE DRAW’ for 6 Bottles of Wine by filling in you registration form available on the day or
print off on line and bring with you.
Prizes on the day in several categories.
*Need to contact us?
Phone: 0781 455 0163
or classiccarsonlythamgreen@gmail.com
Registered Charity 1131583
Sunday June 27th (Provisional)*
Gates: 9am Close 4pm
Sponsored by Auto Expert Prestige Sales and Service
01253 731810

Click on links below for more details and entry form

Classic cars letter2021 Classic cars RegForm 2021

St George’s Day 22nd May 2021- Photographs

St George’s Day – Photographs

We hope you enjoyed our run – it was great to see so many fantastic cars and happy people! The weather was a real bonus but we can’t promise that on future events!

I don’t know if you noticed but we had a couple of photographers our on the event. Mike Wood and Eileen Dyson picked a couple of sutable vantage points en route and Nigel Bentley was at the coffee halt so managed to get most of you as you arrived. Alan Shaw was also out on the route and got some fine pictures.

We can let you have copies of the photographs free of charge if you would like a memory of the event. Nigel Bentley will send pictures direct if you email him at:

nigel_bentley2003@yahoo.co.uk

If you would like one of Mike’s or Eileen’s pictures simply email me at chrislee1275@aol.com and I will see if he managed to get a shot of you.

Obviously Mike and Eileen probably haven’t got everyone so we may not have your picture out on the run itself.

I have copies of all Alan Shaw’s pictures so I will check them as well if you ask. All Alan’s pictures should credit Alan if you circulate furether

Both Nigel and I will need your reg number and vehicle description to identify you.

Hoping to see you on the 22nd May for our Rally of the Bridges.

Please click on link to read Alan Shaw’s report on the event

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