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Event, Road trip

#Project924 Day Out: Pentillie Festival of Speed

Of course I’ve heard of it…

Well, actually no, I hadn’t.  When @MajorGav first mentioned the Pentillie Festival of Speed, some months ago, I had to go online to find out what and where it was. A festival of speed in Cornwall, not too far from my home town, something we’d never had in that part of the world, I was definitely interested. Set in the grounds of Pentillie castle, beside the river Tamar, the location looked stunning and the event was set around a Plymouth Motor Club hillclimb, what was not to like?

From the off I decided that this would be a good event to take the 924 S to, to give it a decent run out. As the August bank holiday approached the car wasn’t quite back together. A few days before the event the gearbox and fuel tank are both on the garage floor and in no way connected to the car. It would have been an easy option to spruce up the Z4 a little and take that instead. However, I was determined the 924 would get a run out, and besides, I had a spot on the PetrolBlog stand, in the display car park, and the BMW wasn’t as good a fit. Suffice to say, a few days hard work and the 924 was back together, details of that to follow. There was an 11th hour refit to the front of the car – unfinished badge panel and bumper, but I managed to get away.

Pentillie Festival of Speed 924 S Services

With a few parts on the car still needing attention I opted for the motorways over the more mechanically challenging [and interesting] A303. While I wouldn’t kid myself and say the 924 was feeling refined, new shocks and engine mounts will help there, the car was quite happy at motorway speeds with oil pressure and water temp exactly where I wanted them.

Turning off the main roads the final stretch of my journey took me down the A386, along the west edge of Dartmoor; a twisty swooping A road on which even my slightly ailing 924 felt very much at home – I think this will be the car’s sweet spot.

I checked into my B&B and got my head down. Up early the following morning I gave the 924 S a quick clean before breakfast. I checked out and set off. The car started without any trouble, I dropped the windows and set off over the border into Cornwall on what was a stunning Sunday morning. I would have liked to have the sunroof open, but I’m leaving that well alone until I can make sure it all works and there are no leaks. As I got closer to Pentillie Castle the frequency of interesting cars increased exponentially, I had been worried about a small turn out, but there were a lot of cars out.

MajorGav did tell me there was a slight problem with biblical rainfall the day before; this was England in August, on the biggest festival weekend (car and music) of the year, it’s to be expected. As such the organisers had to rearrange the car parks slightly, which meant no designated display area or PetrolBlog stand. Nonetheless I located Gav in his Saab 9000 and pitched up. The field was muddy, but true petrolheads who care more about driving than financial appreciation aren’t concerned by such things; parked a few spots down from me was a lovely 964, and behind a Jag D Type (rep, I suspect, but you never know) and BMW 328. No, not that one, the original 328! After a quick chat and HobNob Gav and I set off on foot for a lovely walk down past the castle to the display area, with plenty of cars on display en route.

To my surprise the hillclimb had already started. To give you an idea of the route, better than my words can, here’s a PetrolBlog video of a [slow] run up the hill…

At the bottom of the hill, near the start line, there was a display area for Vospers, where they had some modern cars set out, most interesting being the hardcore MX5 prototype – saw it at the Goodwood moving motorshow and it sounds nuts! The catering guys were nearby starting their hog roast which smelt amazing but we were heading for Adrian Crawford’s stand, to look at some Porsches. Mercedes were setup in the adjoining stand with some impressive metal on display, there was a Land Rover 4×4 display and an off road buggy hurtling around a circuit too. But I was only interested in the Porsches…

It was the first time I’d met Adrian, I knew his reputation as a 911 specialist, but it was good to hear he too had a 924 S restoration on the go, there may have been some talk about that (sorry, Gav). I suspect his resources mean he’ll cross the line first, while I’m still enjoying getting my hands dirty. We let Adrian get back to his other visitors and went back up the hill, to the hairpin, to see some racing. Sadly there were no 924s or even 44s running, but there was a mixed field that more than held my interest…

Here’s a little video of few of the contestants, sadly not giving it their all on this run it would appear – I was busy taking pictures before this, when a couple really gave it the beans. Aside from the Porsches I think my favourite was the Noble, which sounded insane!

The video is quite good a catching some of the drama, and the noise isn’t bad, but the one sense it does miss is the smell, any of you that have been to a classic car event will know exactly what I mean, it completes the automotive assault on the senses.

While camped out watching the cars, Rob, @FistsOfHam, stopped by for a chat (he’s in the middle of a 944 restoration). Post racing we headed up to the castle where they were starting to set out the winning cars around some pretty special show cars.

While up at the castle we also had a chat with Sammie, member of the [Pentillie Castle] family, who was out there in a high-vis vest helping organise and direct, as well as thanking, those who were involved. It was great to hear how much she cared about what was happening and whether people were enjoying themselves. I think that showed through on the day, catching a quick word with Rosie, who’s been there for the summer, she seemed genuinely happy to be a part of it all, ultimately benefiting us spectators.

Naturally Gav and I stayed pretty much to the end. We saw a few last minute wobbles many would have missed on the course and it meant there weren’t any crowds as we made our way back to the exit. The car park was a quite empty by the time we got back up there and the PetrolBlog stand, such as it was, was looking a little bare, as you can see the focus is on the different and interesting rather than the exotic. Mine was a good fit, even the right colour alongside Gav’s Bangernomics Saab and Adrian’s Brat.

Pentillie Festival of Speed PetrolBlog

So, in its first year the Pentillie Festival of Speed was a good day out and well worth the trip. The event was great fun and I hope the first FoS of many, but I think there are a few points to learn from, in my opinion these would be:

  1. The organisers had gone to the trouble of putting out arrows to the car parks, next year I suggest co-ordinating the colour of the signs with the tickets.
  2. More matting on the high traffic areas in the car parks.
  3. Get the bike coffee stand back, but with more coffee makers, excellent coffee at a pretty decent price!
  4. Put all of the car display areas together, at the bottom.
  5. Work a route for foot traffic while the racing is going on.
  6. Put timing screens up along the course, not just the top, tannoys too.

Those are small matters really, the day was a big success, and the only complaints I could hear were about the weather and subsequent mud, but honestly, this is an outdoor event in the UK in August, best deal with it. Most had wellies, but I managed okay in sandals – I think much to Gav’s surprise (there was a look of good-grief when he saw them).

And at the end of the day the 924 S looked all set for the journey home. Not entirely sure why I got up early to clean it?

Pentillie Festival of Speed 924 S

If you have space in your motoring calendar for 2013 and fancy something different from the established events, this should be at the top of the list! You never know, another impulse purchase and there could be a #Project924 Hillclimb on the programme. Unlikely, but I am that stupid.

Update: I am getting a few people visiting the site looking for the Pentillie Festival of Speed 2013, I believe the event will be bi-annual and back in 2014; “We are now planning the 2014 Pentillie Festival of Speed, scheduled for 23rd and 24th August 2014,” Pentillie FoS web site.


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