For those who were unable to attend this year’s AGM, here is a synopsis of the proceedings.
After welcoming everyone to the meeting, a few moments silence were observed in memory of Terry Kirkby who died late last year.
There was a very good attendance of 48 people, not sure whether that was to see who the new Vice president is or the fact that someone from Red Bull was going to be there.
Jim Gavin was on hand to appoint our new Vice president, the one and only lovable Charlie Gould and present him with a certificate to commemorate the honour.
My report on last year is at the end.
Our current finances were explained by Pete; the overall result is that the club is in good health after a successful season’s racing.
John Lowdell and Mark Robinson have both stood down from the committee and Graham Tibbenham, Richard Atherton and Vikki Reeves had agreed to be nominated, and the members voted them all on. This means that we now have a full committee.
Ian Ratcliff was voted back as chairman.
Just before Christmas we were approached by Louie from Red Bull with a prospect that they were keen to become involved in some way with lawn mower racing. The result is that they are putting on their own event, run to our rules, on 9th June, the actual venue to be confirmed. It will run on the Saturday only and be free entry for the public. However, the club will have the use of the venue on the Sunday to do our own racing. They are hoping for an entry of up to 50 mowers, not all from us. They are canvassing the universities and tech colleges to build mowers to enter. The proposed racing format could include a race incorporating a joker lap, a race with jumps, banks and other suitable hazards, a timed trial, an eliminator race and an accumulator race (where points are added each lap).
This was one of the highlights of the meeting, and possibly why the attendance was so high. The proposal was made by Louie on behalf of Red Bull. Both he and his proposal were very well received.
The second presentation of the meeting was for Mark Robinson. Although he had declined the invitation to become an HVP, Pete was keen to mark the occasion, and had a cartoon caricature picture drawn up by Dave Pattison which he was very taken with. This was again presented by Jim.
Mark Thurston ran through the proposed Rules and Regs changes. The proposal to reduce the exhaust noise levels to below 90 db promoted a very lively discussion, initiated by Dan Jones asking whether the rule meant that the current rule stipulating that the exhaust should point towards the ground still applied. It progressed on to how the readings would be taken. The revised wording to the rule is as follows.
Silencers will be required at all events to ensure engine noise falls below 90dBA when measured at a distance of 1 metre from the exhaust outlet at two-thirds throttle.
Pugs then ran through this year’s calendar as it currently stands. The World Champs will be held at Essex. There are one or two dates that still need confirming.
Les Pantry is to be the 12 hour chairman again this year. There is a possibility Red Bull may be able to assist in promoting the 12 hour, not least at their event earlier in the year.
The meeting ended with a surprise entertainment feature by Mick Hills on his guitar (not ukulele this time). Accompanied by his friend and fellow band player, Stuart, they played the song that Mick had written for the BLMRA. As he said, every club needs an anthem. You can watch him here.
I would like to start by thanking the whole of the committee here for all the work they have put in over the past year. It is not always easy, but without them, racing wouldn’t happen. Obviously, I’m rather sad that Mark is standing down but he has been on the committee for several years now and has done sterling work for us all and will carry on helping in the background. At the same time I am excited that we will be joined by the 3 new members, assuming that you vote them on, of course.
Last year began with a club reshuffle with Jim and Mary becoming Founders and Pete moving up to being President. And now we have a new Vice President in place. Congrats Charlie.
The year saw a high attendance at all meetings, which is good for racing as well as our coffers.
The racing season began in May at Capel with a BBQ on the Saturday evening, with Pete’s marinated chicken being a big hit. A film crew for the BBC came along and did their stuff and later in the year it was broadcast on the TV. This was also where we witnessed the first outing for the as then untried LM class. Having welcomed Harry to the club, his mower got off the line well and went quickly down the straight, but it was while trying to negotiate the corner things went a little awry. With Harry being very tall and the mower rather unstable, the result was fairly predictable. He returned with his brother at Selwood Steam Fair, where again they had problems, one never reaching the track, the other ploughing into a heavy hay bale and breaking the front axle in practice. They never returned, which is a shame. We have decided to keep the class alive for another year in the hope that it may be taken up by others.
Pugs managed to find 2 new venues to add to the calendar. The area allotted to us at Selwood Steam Fair was far too small, which was all the more irritating as the majority of the field was reserved for a baling demonstration which hardly ever demonstrated. We are returning this year, but have been assured that the area will be much larger. The other one, at Beddington, was at the end of the season and although damp saw the conclusion of the year’s championship races. Well done to all those who took part and those who came away with those prestigious trophies.
There were 2 accidents requiring hospitalisation this year. At Capel, after ending up way down the field and desperate to catch up, Les made heavy contact with the ground and successfully managed to smash his body up. Then in Somerset, Alan Davies crashed out in spectacular style during the eliminator race and also ended up visiting the hospital with a broken collar bone. I’m glad to say, both made full recoveries and being true sports, both helped out at meetings while still convalescing.
And so to the last race of the year. With drivers from the North West, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany entered alongside our club, it promised to be a proper World Championship. However, the weather decided otherwise, the rain turning the track into a mud circuit in a very short time. Not racing. Our apologies to Sally and Mark for leaving their fields as though we had used them for a re-enactment of the battle of the Somme.
The 12 hour was also hampered by rain, making the setting up and the race itself difficult, the track rucking up like a carpet as the race progressed. The track was spiked in late autumn in the hope of alleviating this problem. The northerners won for the 5thtime. Well done to them.
At the end of July, a group of members had the privilege of going to America and race with them on their machines to celebrate their club’s 25th anniversary. It was another unforgettable trip for all those who went, organised by Pete and sponsored unofficially by Virgin, aka Charlie.
I know this is not strictly club business, but congratulations to all those teams who ventured to Finland in February. Not only was there a very good turnout from our club, but it was a successful exercise in interclub co-operation. And I can’t help being in awe and envious of Pugs, Graham and Jen for being the group 2 ice pioneers. I especially liked Graham’s filmed off piste excursion through a back garden in his attempt to return to his pit, and his comment on being thwarted by the cars blocking his way in the car park.
Earlier this year, Pete handed me a large cardboard box full of Jim’s video collection of lawn mower racing. I have been transferring them to dvd. It has been fascinating, as a lot of them going back to the late 70s early 80s. Unfortunately, the quality is poor by today’s standards, but the colourful characters and their enthusiasm are evident. The idea is to put them on the website so everyone can see and enjoy them.
In this particular clip there is an interview with Sir Stirling Moss from 1981, being asked about his vision for the sport. His reply was that he hoped it stayed friendly and family orientated, and then added that one day he would like to see racing against the French and Germans. Well, I think we have managed that and more, and I hope we continue to do so.
This is a club that has a lot of history behind it, as shown by these old videos, but we also need to look to the future and later Louie from Red Bull will explain their possible association with this club.
Thank you all.