After 600 miles over three days, in just about all of the weather the north of the UK could throw at the vintage cars only event, the Flying Scotsman 2022 became a total adventure for those that made it home having taken the finishers flag at the famous Gleneagles.
Champagne was served to all of the Flying Scotsman 2022 finishers on the crew cut grass in front of the hotel, shorn as short as one would expect from a world class golfing facility.
That first place and the victor’s champagne went to the imperious William Medcalf and Andy Pullan, with a lead that they never let slip. It was a dominant performance and a win that both were clearly delighted with, taking the opportunity to douse each other with their glasses of champagne as they crossed the line. “Thank you to Mr Pullan, it’s all in the navigation, I just do as I’m told” was William’s self-effacing view on it, although as Andy pointed out “This is William’s third win now, and I’m delighted that this is my first. A great competition, really tight throughout.”
Against the backdrop of often snow covered landscapes, the final day of competition was by lunchtime, getting tense. Out front the Medcalf Bentley was still flying, with a 30 second lead over Martin Hunt and Bob Mannix in the second place Frazer Nash BMW, but the fight for third was getting interesting. Paul Dyas and Iain Tullie, third overnight in their Bentley Derby after Paul Crosby’s demise, had slipped to fourth, with Theo Hunt and James Galliver over taking them on the score sheets. The crews had been level on times leaving the start in the morning, but now the young duo in the Frazer Nash had scraped out a ten second lead over their more experienced counterparts. It would be youth vs experience and David vs Goliath with the diminutive but more nimble chain driven Nash up against the towering Bentley, but the Nash was struggling, pinking and missing, the odds were swinging back in the favour of the big Bentley.
By the flag it would be the Frazer Nash that would triumph, in the end beating Paul and Iain in the Bentley to third place with the same margin of 10 seconds. Second would be secured by Martin Hunt and Bob Mannix, their chances of an assault on first place gone after they had made a mistake during the afternoon. It would make it a family affair on the podium, and perhaps next time Theo and Jimmy can go one better and beat Theo’s old man.
94 cars started, tackling 10 tests and 14 regularities. 81 cars began the last leg with 79 finishing. William Medcalf and Andy Pullan had lead the machines away, in Hexham on day one. Martin Hunt and Bob Mannix, in the raucous and much smaller Frazer Nash BMW 328 followed.
The snow in the distance was a reminder of some of the harsh yet striking conditions experienced on this rally. The hailstorm that blew across Scotland on day two with the periodic bright sunshine was a reminder of just how blessed everyone felt despite being washed by rain in the mostly open cockpits at times during the three days. The landscape was all the more spectacular for the snow.
Of course, the competition element of the Flying Scotsman is but one part of something much greater. For most it is just about finishing, for completing a challenging route in vintage cars that really might be better suited to enjoying their retirement. But for these people this is a celebration of these machines, an opportunity to show them to a public that hold a fond fascination for them, evidenced by the sheer amount that showed up along the route to wave the cars through and by those that gathered in the rain at the finish, clapping and cheering just as loudly regardless of the position in which the crew finished. It is also about keeping these old machines moving and inspiring the next generation, who will become the custodians of these motorcars, long after the current crop of internal combustion engines becomes obsolete. Youngsters such as Hugh Sutton, 14 years old and competing with his father Tony, Australians doing a great job too, a long way from home.
These are the people that will one day need to care for these cars and ensure and the sport’s survival. The celebrations to honour the tradition of this competition and observe the achievements of all those that finished went on long into the night.
Now everyone will have to wait until next spring when they line up again in these grand old cars for another thrilling Flying Scotsman competition, with another entry no doubt populated by special cars and extraordinary competitors from all over the world.
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12th Flying Scotsman
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