Long term readers will recall that I have an interest in fast cars especially vintage cars; they speak to the romantic in me. Strangely in a moment of serendipity on a visit to a local plant retailer earlier this week we happened upon a flyer for the inaugural Bromyard Speed Festival. With the event being free and only some 30 minutes from home there was no question over whether we would go.
What people may not realise is that Bromyard, a small market town in Herefordshire, has a long association with the British motor industry. Early in automotive history the chairmen of Austin, Bean and Morgan all lived in the vicinity. Consequently it was fitting that in its first year Morgan, located in nearby Malvern, was the feature marque (brand) of the Festival.
Bromyard Speed Festival benefited from the support of Shelsley Walsh, located just 20 minutes away, which is the oldest motorsport venue in the world. Shelsley maintains an intimate charm with spectators being able to walk around the paddocks and stand next to the start line. Given its pedigree it is strange that it is such a small-scale spectator event; there are few, even people who live in the area, who know of its existence. That charm and intimacy was replicated at Bromyard as the cars motored around the small town centre, revving up the slope and out of corners. Of course they couldn’t reach the speeds they do elsewhere due to the narrowness of the road and the closeness of spectators but it wasn’t all about the speed it was really about bringing the cars into a new environment which might attract more spectators and of course bringing revenue into the town, which is known for its programme of festivals throughout the year.
It wasn’t just vintage cars but also more modern cars including a Jaguar Project 7, one of a limited number produced and a mini that had competed in the Monte Carlo mini, numerous Austin Healeys and Morgans. But I still prefer the vintage cars and I wouldn’t let the family go home until we had seen them despite the weather getting chillier. And I shouldn’t forget to mention the presence of the Sunbeam Bluebird land speech record breaker whose engines were heard in public for the first time in 50 years. Being a somewhat long car it couldn’t go round the track due to the tight corners but it made its way down the High Street in one direction thrilling the crowd.
It was fascinating to see the expressions on the driver and passenger faces as they went past lap after lap. Some had an expression of sheer joy, others a fierce determination, some concern as they negotiated the corners and increasing tyre debris and churned up grit from the road that increased during the afternoon. As the laps for each class progressed the cars were either getting slower or in the case of the vintage cars, faster and more joyful. Our theory was that having completed laps in the morning and being near the end of the afternoon session with their cars intact the drivers were going all out. What was also great was to see numerous cars with children or grandchildren as passengers, some of whom were furiously waving to the crowds as they whizzed past. The guys in the Morgan 3 Wheeler in the top photo took delight in trying to wheel spin their car; strangely after two warnings they didn’t appear for another lap – we assume they were told off!!
Our consensus was that Bromyard Speed Festival was a great event. Well organised with out of town parking and shuttle buses, plenty of catering options, friendly, welcoming and fun. We, as a family, hope that it continues as we will certainly be back next year given half a chance.