As the gates of Lincolnshire Showground opened to herald the start of world’s largest festival of Triumph TR sports cars, enthusiasts from all over the globe arrived under beautiful blue skies and blazing hot sunshine to celebrate the marque with the very best summer weather imaginable.
It was Friday afternoon on the 29th June and by 2pm, the first of the campers were already erecting tents and sparking up their barbecues. But, whilst the excitement for the festivities that lay ahead began to build on the showground, just 20 miles north a good number of attendees had their minds focused purely on speed as the Blyton Park Trackday offered the chance to drive your TR on one of the finest track-day venues in the country.
The short journey between Blyton Park and Lincolnshire Showground was just long enough for the adrenalin to subside and thoughts to turn to the meet and greet evening in the entertainment marquee at the western edge of the display arena.
The TR Register International Weekend with Pistons in the Park was then officially opened on Sat-urday morning, in the Duckhams Arena by Graham Robson and Wayne Scott who began with an overview of the Triumph TR line and a preview of the what the weekend ahead would offer.
Director of Classic and Motorsport at Duckhams, Martin Gough joined the presenters on stage at midday each afternoon to hold a seminar for the several hundred strong audience gathered. The seminar covered the history and heritage of the Duckhams brand, including the introduction of Eu-rope’s first multi-grade oil plus a myth busting Q&A around questions from the audience relating to ZDDP additive levels and when best to change your oil.
The Pistons in the Park element added a number of new exhibitors to the event including Sherwoods Jaguar who were presenting an XKR that they were covering in signatures to raise money for the local Bluebell Children’s Hospice. There were even more modern classics in the epic centre including an immaculate Capri, stunning yellow Ferrari Dino, Noble and a number of Fast Fords displaying on the opposite half of the hall to the Triumph Survivors, Concours D’Elegance and Pride of Ownership contenders.
The foyer of the aptly named ‘Epic Centre’ featured displays including the famous Jabbeke Triumph TR2, which joined the TR Register club’s own ‘TS2’- chassis number two of the TR line. A celebration of the anniversary of the Peerless racing at Le Mans saw the genuine Peerless Le Mans race car on show, celebrating 60 years since competing. The TR4 of Nick Mountford, that races in the Equipe GTS race series, with its tribute to the Group 44 livery, completed the line up in honour of the event’s special guest, Bob Tullius.
In the trade hall, the support of the many TR specialists and suppliers continued, many of whom used the opportunity to meet customers face to face and build relationships with those who previously, may only have conversed with them via email or telephone. For us here at Duckhams, it was an opportunity to meet customer face to face and it was tremendously encouraging to hear the support and excitement within the show visitors to see the iconic British brand back trading again.
There was an Autojumble as well with plenty of treasurers to pick through meanwhile, many enjoyed the variety of catering and refreshments on offer between the two halls at the venue giving an opportunity of fortification whilst soaking up the tremendous sunshine.
The motorsport action for the weekend was not just limited to Friday at Blyton Park as the event saw the return of the TR Register Autosolo, held at the top of the showground where the roads were suitable. This year however, as well as a number of TRs pitching their wits against the cones for the fastest time of the day, the course featured a huge variety of machines including the delights of a demonstration of Group B rally cars, whose engines could be heard ringing out across the entire showground! The course featured a tight clockwise 360 around a central cone, then a blast down to a left-hand chicane, down to an anticlockwise 360 then back to the top to repeat the clockwise 360 via the chicane. The final section took competitors back down the course, again via the chicane, before a high-speed squirt through a left-hand apex into a slalom to finish on a stop astride – sounds simple, right?! At the beginning of Saturday, many competitors were struggling to beat the 1 minute dead mark but by the close of the course that afternoon, the leaders were all approaching sub 50 seconds. Although entries were sparse, especially on the Sunday, those that took part either entered into fierce but good-natured competition or just had an absolute blast taking part just for fun. An Autosolo is such a great way to enjoy motorsport with no risk of damage to your car and everyone who took the time to get involved left the course grinning from ear to ear.
Saturday’s arena displays included a visit from the Sporting Bears Club showing off a Lamborghini, AC Cobra and a Lotus Exige, all available for rides to raise money for one of their many children’s charities. There was a good variety of cars through the Duckhams sponsored arena, for example the owner who had painstakingly recreated a Ferrari Daytona with convincing results and another owner’s cosseted Ford Sierra Cosworth 4 – wheel drive, which was popular with the assembled audience.
The afternoon continued with a selection of simply massive military vehicles, all fire and rescue units including a six-wheeled Range Rover built by the special vehicles department at Solihull, the final trailing axle required for carrying the extra weight of the water bowser.
Mid – afternoon and it was time for the ‘Meet the Owners’ session for all of the Triumph cars at the show and what a selection we had. What was immediately obvious was the fantastic line up of TR7s and TR8s that joined us. Almost every strain of wedge was represented including a genuine factory TR8 prototype – left hand drive of course, a factory TR7 Sprint, 4-speed and 5-speed coupes and convertibles and all complimented by an insightful chat with Christopher Kenneth Smith who must own the largest collection of TR7s on the planet! A couple of 1950s beige TR3s caught the eye and a couple of GTR4 Dove’s added to the rarity value.
Speaking after the event, Terry Smith from the TR Register said;
“Duckhams Oils delivered compel-ling interviews on what we need to consider when looking for oil for our classic cars and it was thanks to the very welcome sponsorship from Duckhams Oils, who have offered a huge amount of support to the TR Register, that live music added as a feature this year.”
In three 30 minute slots spread throughout the day, we enjoyed a variety from full rock bands to acoustic singer-songwriters, all perfectly matching the mood and tone of the relaxed atmosphere in the sunshine. The moment where 40 plus international TRs entered the arena to the soundtrack of Fleetwood Mac’s – The Chain played live was a definite highlight of the Duckhams Arena in 2018!! The traditional International TR parade was led by TR Register Vice Presidents Ian Evans and Chris Cunnington and featured TRs joining the event from all over Europe from Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, Germany and beyond. Winner of the best international TR this year went to the Irish TR7 convertible of Derek Carroll – a stunningly presented car. One such TR5 had even joined us all the way from Holland and despite the distance travelled, had entered Concours all the same. From even further afield was Ian Harris, President of TR Register New Zealand and Kosaku Koishihara who attended with his daughter from Tokyo, Japan.
Sunday at the Lincolnshire Showground welcomed another element to proceedings, the Standard Triumph Marque Day with an impressive number of vehicles displaying in the Duckhams arena representing something from all of the 14 different clubs from the Standard Triumph community.
Then after another of our singer songwriters, by the name of Joel, took to the stage along came the headline interview with our special guest for the weekend. It was two-o’clock and a healthy crowd had gathered to meet him as Nigel Clueley and Richard Flynn (who had worked so hard all week-end setting things up) built the stage for an hour long, intimate conversation with the person eve-ryone had come to see.
Bob Tullius ran and drove for Group 44, the most successful road racing team of the 1960s – 1980s. Beginning his racing career in a TR3 in 1961 he went on to race most of the iconic British sports cars. His TR resume includes victories in TR4s, TR250s, TR6s and as he revealed, his favourite TR, the TR8.
Bob Tullius’ career saw him rack up over 300 victories across 3 of the most competitive series, the SCCA, IMSA GTP and SCCA Trans Am Pro. He is also credited with taking Jaguar back to Le Mans after a 30-year hiatus, long before the Tom Walkinshaw prepared, Silk Cut and Castrol sponsored cars had even been considered.
It was clear from the very beginning that Bob Tullius loves the UK fans and talked candidly about his career, sharing many stories of epic battles and race car development in one of the most engaging hour-long conversations anyone could have hoped for.
He shared his secrets behind the success of Group 44, including how he showed the industry how important PR and public image was for a race team’s success with its sponsors, proven by the fact that he enjoyed a close relationship with Quaker State who supported the team financially for over 18 years. His story of how he was gifted a TR4 by Triumph only to crash it and be refused another from the factory, forcing him to buy a car instead raised many smiles, as did his account of the moment when his boss asked him to choose between his career at Kodak and his racing which, by the mid – sixties, had begun to dominate his life.
The next event you can catch the Duckhams team attending, will be Silverstone Classic 20-23 July 2018.