Campervans and Possible National Rally

The discussion continues on several ideas around the National Rally, this pending interested parties locally to organise it of course.

here has been a light investigation of the original Cotswold Wildlife Park as a venue for a general Microcar Rally, possibly a National Rally. The CWP remains much as it was when we held the early events. It offers a field for a fee, free entry to agreed driven classics, which enter that field under the control of the organiser. Ordinary and modern vehicles pay normally at the gate although a deal might be agreed for a parc fermé for support vehicles. The site has plenty to entertain non-Micro folks and a restaurant and snack area. It lacks immediately placed toilet facilities and an all weather area, the latter striking me as a more worthwhile investment. The big issue with the CWP is that because it has animals it cannot allow camping within the grounds.

The Caravan Club site opposite is hostile to the idea of hosting Microcars. The original campsites are either not available or not big enough to cope. South Cerney was deemed too far away (some 25 miles) but is still available. However a newer site has opened at Hardwick, which is only 10 mile distant via quiet country lanes. This offers water-based entertainment on site as well. The area is convenient for Oxford and many other places non-Micro folk might wish to visit independent of the Microcar activities. It may also be possible to host micronauts camping on private land so they can enjoy the pleasures of minimalist activity in the traditional style of old at a much reduced fee.

Grant Kearny, serving on the National Microcar Committee ( administers the repayable fund for aiding rally organisation, has raised the obvious complaint that could be levelled at the sort of rally that can be held at a venue like the CWP, the venue of the original ‘Burford’ Rallies and where so much that we value in the Microcar movement found its roots, be that clubs or friendships. That is that the Campervans especially will be forced to use a nearby campsite not on the rally field to be used on the show day. This is a valid point of course but raises the topic of campervans and their influence on microcar rallies. Acting as agent provocateur therefore I suggest the following.

  1. The requirement of the campervans has become dominant over the requirement of Microcars in selecting a venue. This is clearly the case and Grant has to act for all in his position and has highlighted it in his observation questioning ‘how the majority would react if the camping facilities are miles away from the Rally field’ with reference to a theoretical ‘Burford’ rally. I feel pretty certain that campers will not be to phased as they can be accommodated simply with offers of a private site or a van in which they can place their equipment till they are ready to depart. Therefore the problem is going to be much based on the Campervans.

    Now I have an issue with this that harks back to the Weston Park venue, also mentioned by Grant. There was a lot of complaint about the washing and toilet facilities. Now I will remind you that there was a toilet block on site and about a mile and half away through private grounds were facilities attached to the main house. Firstly has no one heard of washing in a sink? Secondly what did most people have at the event? Yep, a running microcar. So it was simple to enjoy the trip over to the house and do your ablutions by Microcar. It is the sort of trip they are made for. The only people who could complain about this were not going to be microcar enthusiasts. This situation holds true today. What is the problem of driving your Microcar 10 miles to a Rally destination? It is what the car is for!What is the problem of driving your Microcar 10 miles to a Rally destination? It is what the car is for! The Campervan on site remains safe on its pitch. The not interested can do their own thing and the drive back is going to add some 15 minutes to packing up assuming the rally day is on Sunday. If Saturday then even this is avoided as I would alter the event to Run out Friday, Rally Saturday and Run out Sunday. This allows maximum attendance for all of the day for the main day and flexibility for arrival/leaving. I cannot really see where the argument is against a split venue is on that basis.

    It was that Weston Park event that provided the watershed in how rallies were balanced in hindsight. Before this the enthusiasts organised and dominated the events. After this Weston Park the voice of the owners and non-enthusiasts slowly but surely drowning out the enthusiasts really won sway. Again I have a problem with this. Clearly if an enthusiast brings along a wife/partner/follower then that is their choice and invitation. However if that person starts whinging it should stay within that couple/group as we have agreed to turn up and use our microcars in the way directed by the event programme. I might be selfish but I have found that by compartmentalising my life it means I get to do what I want. There is a simple method of stopping whinging and that is to leave the person not interested elsewhere doing something they are interested in. The last thing you do is buy a campervan as what happens is the enthusiast is cooped up with someone not interested in the activity or, worse than that, under supervision. He has to not get dirty, come to heel for tea despite it being at an inconvenient time just as something interesting is going on. Not be out late "ignoring me", "do not want to go out as it is boring/cold/mosquitoes/don't like that fat git" etc. In fact the former enthusiast is forced to become a mere owner in some cases. Does this sound familiar?

    A look at the events prior to Weston Park clearly show that having a site of common occupation was a bonus and as the proportion of driven cars was higher no one had a problem with driving a few miles between venues. Indeed it used to be great fun and an active, even competitive part of the event.

  2. Many events have more campervans present than microcars. That is a fact. If I were being mischievous I could make a case that certain events I have begun to actually resemble a campervan rally with microcars to make it more interesting. From the alternative position it would be argued that campervaners make up the majority. However is it true that the campervan folk make up the majority of those potentially attending a National Rally? Bearing in mind that not all the occupants of the campervans are really interested in Microcars at all and the fact that the campervan dominated events have already seen other potential participants vote with there feet and not attend (including now myself) I think a trawl of enthusiasts might produce a very much closer call than perhaps some folk might care to admit. After all we are talking about organising an event for the enjoyment of the most Microcar enthusiasts possible here not the total number of people attending. Quality over quantity if you like to be crude about folks I have no real quarrel with personally.
  3. The event has become dominated by the actions of those with campervans in respect of organising group activities. This in the main is because individuals and groups tend to separate into the campers, normally restricted in numbers of each group by internal space available, rather than mix in a general area or venue for the entertainment and use of those at the event. This restricts cross talk, meeting new folks and of new owners meeting established micronauts and so gain confidence and information to enable them to expand their ownership into enthusiasm. This is one of the core reasons why rallies are important. I have watched as a quiz or something ends and there is a rush to return to the campers rather than communicate with other groups of enthusiasts. Yet people ask me why there seems to be less people coming into the scene. Well there is one very good reason of a few for you.

    Also the closed-door policy increases the inertia of initiating activity, which has never been a strong point in Britain. Again our chums abroad have a simple system. You get a couple of warnings and they then set off without those not ready at pretty much the time designated in the programme. Well if we did that at a modern National half the site would hardly notice!

    All this inertia reduces the amount of action that can be packed into a day. The BUMS tend to get out late morning and keep going till well after dark fitting in all sorts of trips and visits during a day. There is no time for boredom and to be frank a campervan would not be utilised as we are always off doing stuff in Microcars. Sleep comes easy, as we are knackered by the activities of the day and a few snifters. This is and was they way it was done.

  4. Campervans fly in the face of microcar ownership. Again I have a problem with this. How can folk claim to support the core tenets of minimalist motoring when they turn up in some of the largest vehicles it is possible to use with a normal driving licence? Surely if you are an enthusiast of minimalist motoring you will be travelling light and efficiently and take advantage of our cars small size to access venues no other vehicle can use. Well the last item goes out with the use of larger vehicles straight away, a very limiting effect for an adventurous organiser. An example; with only Microcars we have parked in a packed Bourton on the Warthog for the day by using the Legion car park as a parc ferm&eacute. This would not be possible today as the support vehicles would not get in and would be dispersed around the outer edge of the village to much upset. It would probably be pointless to organise such a venue, as inevitably the support vehicles would attempt to use the private parking against event directions and clog the place up. I accept that folk might want to use a support vehicle, but that is what it is and the purpose it serves.I accept that folk might want to use a support vehicle, but that is what it is and the purpose it serves. Second example --- We have used front lawns or sensitive grassed areas of big houses, because the cars are light and do not cut up the turf, a unique opportunity; not possible with lots of large support vehicles. The event such as this is a Microcar Rally and the campervans are or should be subservient to the activities designed for the enjoyment of the Microcar enthusiasts just as the invited followers should be.
  5. Does the attendance at events dominated by campervans truly reflect the requirements of Microcar enthusiasts? This is a simple case. Having turned off quite a number of the genuine driving Microcar enthusiasts from attending in their Microcars for a weekend or the day, not least as the pricing and welcome does not favour a Microcar attending under its own power with often no 'plot plus entrance cost' differential (usually for a plaque and prize enthusiasts have no interest in) over attending in an enormous campervan at quite a few events. That combines with the afore mentioned L’Escargot mentality of many at big events. I have quite a few times found myself wandering about at an early 10 pm with some tins of beer without anyone apparently open to join in a general late evening pint and prattle. This is a great turn off, especially if you have a tent and the venue is in the middle of nowhere to host the massed ranks of campers rather than a small site near habitation and outside services so there is no place to walk to. To add to that HSE gets the blame for having limited the old open fire we used to gather around as a natural default meeting area.

    Back to that watershed Weston Park. Here we had a designated noisy area, which a non-enthusiast without a microcar choose to camp on ignoring and denying it existed despite proof. He whinged to the point of threatening to call the police as we were keeping him awake. Instead of moving him the organiser gave in to him. Since then no late night fun has been supported --- boooooring! Exit a group of some 10 driving camping Micronauts never to really attend rallies thereafter.

    HSE have seen off the driving events as well. All the above and the lure of creature comforts has slowly persuaded folk to either enrol in the campervan approach or not bother to attend in a microcar as the events no longer appeal to the driving enthusiast in the way the used to.

  6. The North of the country has addressed these issues with some balance and remains active. The South of the country seems to have become divided and fails to produce events of either sort. Only Bath survives as a smaller reflection of better days and after that you are looking at the Bournemouth based group led often by Colin Archer and non-micro organised Popham for a credible turnout.

The above will raise several points of discussion, which may or may not provoke strong comment. The advent of campervans providing the support vehicles at events was probably inevitable. However have we now reached the point where the campervan is now dominating the event excluding the microcar? I think we have.However have we now reached the point where the campervan is now dominating the event excluding the microcar? I think we have. It is far simpler to leave the Microcar at home, really. I therefore suggest that at least once the National/a National would be the event to redress the balance in favour of putting Microcars first. I accept that for most events most of the year that the status quo has swung towards the way modern rallies seem to run now. The folk who do them are entitled to enjoy what they like to do year round. But it is all the more reason to offer something different as well.

The National should stand as the special event of the year. There is actually a large minority (or is it a majority in fact?) who have lost interest in attending these events as they do not reflect their interests or offer them a full weekends' entertainment anymore. For myself I am fed up of 35 years stood in fields in the middle of nowhere. There needs to be something extra to get me to attend. I bang on about the fact we can achieve much better venues by planning far further ahead and using our high media profile without increasing the budget of the event. That is another subject beyond this discussion but the topics together would create a very fine event to be remembered. However it is pointless going into that additional subject if we are going to accept that we can no longer hold the sort of microcar rally that Tony initiated starting the golden years. It saw a successful series of National events, spawned clubs and created long friendships that endure, all the rewards we now see of a community of micronauts. How can it be that it is now not feasible to organise an event based on those hugely influential and successful events? Do the answers appear above?

Campervans look messy

Quite agree about the campervans --- but since I don't own one perhaps I would say that (note to self: must stop being so even handed!).

One point you didn't mention about campervans and combined rally field/camp site --- it makes the event *look* scruffy. Part of the payoff in putting your car into a line of similar cars is the novelty of seeing umpteen 'rare' vehicles of the same type side by side. This is amplified if there is something impressive or attractive in the background (e.g. hengrave, victoria park etc.). A backline of randomly parked campervans has the opposite effect (e.g. bath rugby ground).

Dave will probably agree with me --- Burford '86 (the first rally we attended) was the most fun, and that was as much because everyone was spread out and forced to move around (two+ camp sites plus the rally site).

Your Discussion point doc makes a good article, but perhaps not what people want to read in Take Off or karoscene even in a sachsie chat. However, we could put it on the TinThing site and send people links to it (the BUMS manifesto?). We could also include some photos to remind people of the 'good old days'. I reckon there's a better chance of getting feedback that way than sending it out as email. It would also get indexed by search engines. TinThing could be quite good for ranting.


That sounds like a good

That sounds like a good idea. The idea of having it as a discussion point is to get folk to think about what they are doing and add to the debate. So your comments should be included as another point which I forgot really. You're absolutely right. This was why the rally site should place support vehicles in a parc fermé rather than have the scattered all over the field. However I am not really into having cars lined up in marques either. Indeed if the cars are put into site as the arrive they will be mixed up forcing a mix of people, at least for a bit. Later a run out or something would see the cars re parked afterwards in marques thus allowing pictures of marque line up and judging - done correctly or not at all - to be performed. This was spectacularly successful at Gaydon for the Two Stroke Rally. However they represented a perhaps more enlightened and enthusiastically engineering based assembly than I suspect most Micropcar Rallies do now. Hence the lack of Microcars at Gaydon.

Big Al