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Shammy Moo is being sold

Our historic rally car Shammy Moo is being sold to make space for the rebuild of Muddy Moo and the preparation of Silver Moo.
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All set for the MSA Mintex British Historic Rally Championship


We’re back from a very successful day at the Historic Rally Car Register’s Open Day at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

A very busy day included Friesian Racing signing up for the 2013 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship and meeting such luminaries as Paddy Hopkirk and Imp legend Rosemary Smith, who was guest of honnor.

Rosemary Smith and Shammy Moo

Legendary Imp Rally driver, Rosemary Smith casts an admiring glance over Shammy Moo’s shiny roof!

Our Singer Chamois – Shammy Moo took centre stage in the display, with two ex-works Imps and Mike and Matthew Vokes very successful Road Rally car to help kick off the ‘Go Imp 50’ birthday celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Hillman Imp.  There was a fantastic turnout from The Imp Club, with over 40 Imps in attendance.

Last Minute Panic

Be prepared for the last minute panic is my usual advice to newcomers to the sport, and its good advice as far as it goes.  Its not always easy to prepare yourself for something that crops up out of the blue at the last minute, but you can guarantee, as eggs is eggs, that there will be a last minute panic.

I had sneakingly suspected that really organised and experienced teams didn’t have this problem, but as the years go by, we seem no less challenged by the last minute panic!

Anyone who says that cars, especially rally cars don’t have a sense of humour is wrong!  Mine, MuddyMoo, certainly has a twisted sense of humour designed to keep us on our toes.  In the past four years we’ve done everything from chassis welding to changing A-Frame bushes at the last minute when we should have been loading up.

As it happens it seems that the latest member of the Friesian Racing herd is also inflicted with the last minute panic disease, only this time it is terminal.

Following a slight missfire at the Longmoor Loco stages just before new year, we took ShammyMoo for a session on the rolling road as we suspected a carburation problem. A compression check later and it turned out that a poorly seated valve was in fact the culprit and a top end engine rebuild was the result. With less than a month before the event, given that the winter modification list was a long one with a run at the Kiloli British Historic Rally Championship in the offing, we had no time to lose in firing the engine back into the car and getting back to the rollers.

The second session with Andrew Bradley at Bradley’s Garage in Shipton under Wychwood was equally concerning. This time Shammy’s head cried enough with a hairline crack in the water jacket spraying a fine jet of coolant anything over 7500RPM.

Engine out again to get the head welded. Re-assembly was last weekend’s task, the last before heading out to the Bulldog Rally on Friday. Unfortunately, although we got the engine back in and running, it wasn’t running at all well.

Having gone through the whole ignition system without curing the problem, our attention then turned to the intake. We then found that the inlet manifold was distorted where it meets the head. We don’t yet know whether this is our problem, but with the cut-off for withdrawls from the event looming at 2100 PM on Sunday night we decided that we would be better off saving the money and taking our time getting to the bottom of the problem.

This is immensely disappointing given the amount of effort that Nigel in particular has put into the car during the closed season. We can’t wait to get out on the stages and take up our side of the two car Imp onslaught on the British Historic Rally Championship. Instead a slightly dejected Nigel and Henry will be heading up to Welshpool to provide support for Geoff Taylor and Steve Greenhill, in the hope that they may be blessed with better luck this weekend.

My theory stands – always expect a last minute panic! Usually they can be sorted, but occasionally they will totally catch you out. I guess its one of the things that make Rallying such a compelling hobby, you never know what’s around the next corner!

We don’t say thank you enough!

The crew descend on MuddyMoo for another frantic service

The crew descend on MuddyMoo for another frantic service

We don’t say thank you nearly often enough.  There is a great herd of people and organisations that help Friesian Racing succeed and I’m really grateful for their continued support, even if they don’t hear it on a regular basis!

I thought I’d therefore take this opportunity to say some thank yous to the guys and girls

First of all are our on-event crew, Sue Bailey and Andrew Crawford have tirelessly given up their precious holiday to follow the team around to virtually all of our events over the past five years or so.  Andrew, however, has been getting me out of sticky automotive situations for about the last 18 years – so is clearly a patient fellow!

Andrew brings his unique brand of sarcastic humour to the events whilst applying his fantastic attention to detail to all the aspects of keeping the Moo on the road.  His no-nonsense approach has saved the day on numerous occasions, but his knowledge of the sport extends well beyond just keeping the car in the event.  His advice to me that I was “over-driving” on the opening day of the last Scottish Perthshire Hillrally was spot on, at a time when I was convinced that there were problems with the car!  I can be pretty stubborn behind the wheel of a rally car as Andrew knows better than anyone, but instead of taking the easy option to go along with my latest whim, he stuck to his guns and set about convincing me that I was wrong!  The results paid off in the very next stage.   Thanks mate!

Andrew at the Scottish

Andrew at the Scottish

Andrew’s least favourite position is lying under a dripping MuddyMoo, checking her nuts and bolts or changing yet another set of anti-roll bar bushes, but he seems undeterred by the fact that this is often the position he has to adopt! Rest assured Andrew a solution is in sight for Muddy’s voracious ARB bush appetite!

Sue’s input is also vital, without her on-event logistics the crew would probably still be circling central Scotland looking for the service area and Muddy Moo and I would probably be abandoned on top of the moors having run out of petrol and food!  Sue’s calm manner and excellent organisational skills not only mean that everything is where it should be and that we are well provisioned, but it is also allied to an uncanny knack to remember that thing that everyone else forgot and the ability to ask the question that really needed to be asked.  This attention to detail has regularly got us out of trouble!

Sue at the Scottish

Sue at the Scottish

On occasion, when Andrew and Sue have not been able to join us at events we have called upon the services of various other individuals, often sharing crew with other competitors. Most recently it was Richard Squires and Andy Gould who kindly shared there crew with us at the Borders Hillrally in November. Martin James, Mark Williams and Ian McMahon did a fantastic job for us and explored every option to keep us in the event. Thanks guys!

Previously it was Steve Hiatt, who came so very close to winning last year’s British Cross Country Championship, who kindly shared his crew, at the Jean de la Fontaine rally back in 2009. That crew comprised of our good friends, Robin Rymell, Tony Cox and Nathan Rymell. Despite my promise to Steve that we would be no trouble, my second stage accident put paid to a quiet weekend. When I was close to giving up they leapt in and would not even consider the thought!

The guys attack a rather bent MuddyMoo

The guys attack a rather bent MuddyMoo - Photo: Nathan Rymell

Back at Friesian Racing HQ my parents are incredibly supportive.  With my father Nigel putting in countless hours in the garage.  Its probably not what he had planned for his retirement, but without him I’d really struggle to get the car ready for all the events.  It is a testament to his thoroughness and skill as well as his fabrication skills that we have such a fantastic finishing record in MuddyMoo.

My mother, Ronnie too puts up with an awful lot.  Tirelessly keeping us fed and watered both on the event and in the workshop.  I know she worries about our well-being on events and our Rallye Jean de la Fontaine accident would have been specifically concerning to her with little news of our whereabouts or condition!  She did a fantastic job of making sure the guys had enough to drink in the heat of the French service areas as my dad got stuck in along side the guys.

We wouldn’t have got very far without Joel Haylock in the last couple of years – what started as a one off try-out quickly escalated to a full time role in the left hand seat and in the workshop!  Joel’s road rallying background has been invaluable in extracting the maximum available information from the often woeful organisers maps. His road reading ability can be attributed for much of our speed, especially on gravel tracks.

Joel in the office

Joel in the office

We’ve also been blessed by some great suppliers. Although our sponsorship relationship has come to an end this year Allmakes 4×4 have always been great supporters of ours and continue to supply us with quality product.

Thanks also to:

  • Trevor Milner and Andy Lees at Milner Off Road for their excellent Varidamp shock absorbers and fantastic set-up advice and after-sales care.
  • The enthusiastic guys at Old Mill Motors in Crawley (01993 771 286); John, John, Dr. Mike etc. our MOT station of choice!
  • Mathew Wilders from his Witney based workshop specialising in Land Rover repairs (01993 862723) for his endless advice and the occasional emergency spares loan, when there is just not enough time for a quick trip down to Allmakes!  He brews a good cup of tea too!
  • Andy at Witney Automotive Factors has always been tremendously supportive and really helpful to call on for bits for the service wagon and for numerous consumables.
  • Allan at Motordrive Seats, for a fascinating morning of chat and coffee whilst he measured me for my seat and for supplying simply the most comfortable seat I’ve competed in!
  • Purity Brewery – for the UBU Warwickshire cask ales that we took to Scotland
  • The guys in the parts department at Mudie Bond – Eynsham, suppliers of Mercedes Benz van and truck spares.
  • All the organisers, marshals, scrutineers and support crews that man the events that we enjoy so much.  I hope to talk about some of these folk some more in a future post as there are many who deserve a particular mention.

And many, many more suppliers who have helped and supported us over the years.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list and I am sure there are lots of worthy folk that I have inadvertently missed, to whom I apologise, but hopefully it also gives an insight to the sheer number of folk that pull together to make it all work.

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