Barbon Bonhommie – Saturday 22 July 27, 2023
It’s a long way up to Cumbria from North Somerset trailering the Super Sports. That’s 250 miles each way to compete in a hillclimb at which you get just a few minutes running time. After several dry events this year, the outlook was for continuous driving rain all day. But the hotel was booked and paid for, as was the entry fee. And did I mention that Morgan motor sport is awfully addictive? Off we set on Friday up the motorway to beautiful Cumbria and a warm welcome from the organisers, the Westmorland Motor Club, and from Lesley Reaney who put the kettle on for a much needed cuppa..
We parked up and unloaded on Friday afternoon next to Graham and Kathy Slater and were shortly joined by Chas and Lesley Reynolds. Alistair Rew and Jenny had enjoyed a short break beforehand at Dent, a picturesque village nearby.
The course was new to all of us. Short by the standards of Loton Park and Shelsley Walsh, the course is 890 yards. A short straight leads into a left bend, then there is a steady up hill pull with a blind left bend followed by a straight that leads to a scary right hairpin that tightens unexpectedly and on to the finish.
After a short briefing by Phil Reaney, clerk of the course, the meeting started promptly at 9:30am with two practice runs and one timed run prior to the lunch break. After lunch we had two further timed runs followed by an interesting knockout competition. This involved the fasted 15 bikes, whittled down to the fastest 10 and finally the fastest 5 to determine the winner of the Percy Duff award. The award is named after the late Percy Duff who was a prime mover in establishing Barbon Hill Climb. It was fitting that Percy’s son Mike volunteered to passenger Chas.
Club level hill climbing is grass roots motor sport at its most enjoyable. One surprise was that retired TT legend John McGuinness was entered and came second in class. The three wheeler class comprised the four Morgans and the Mini-engined Curley trike that had once been owned and successfully hillclimbed by Keith Lyndsell, MTWC member, and less successfully by myself (two broken legs). It is currently owned and raced in VMCC events by Sid Omrod who lives in nearby Carnforth. With two driving wheels and the engine/transmission sitting over them, it was no surprise that Sid posted fastest time in the class with best Morgan time going to Chas and Mike Duff. Alistair and Jenny were next followed by myself and the Slaters. The event was also honoured with the presence of Mick Grant who presented Chas with the trophy for fastest Morgan.
What a great day we had. Yes, it did drizzle but the forecast heavy rain failed to appear and the track gave plenty of grip. The chat among Morgan and other competitors was lively and spectators showed much interest in the Morgans.
Most of all, we were made exceptionally welcome by the members of the Westmoreland Motor Club who said they were looking forward to Morgans returning to Barbon next year. So come on, dig that Morgan out of the garage and join us in lovely Cumbria in 2024.
Chas Reynolds/Mike Duff 35.10 secs
Alistair Rew/Jenny Baker 36.82
Tony Quinn/Ballast 38.28
Graham/Kathy Slater 55.81