Back in 1990 or there abouts I used to be a member of the Northern Off Road Club (NORC for short) and race a modified short wheel based Land Rover round a timed circuit. It was great fun but a little pricey to compete competitively.
There were several classes and my vehicle was in the smallest engined class, up to 2 litres. The engine was an Alfa 1.9 litre OHC, a sweet little thing, attached to a four speed box taken from a Land Rover fire engine and running through a couple of Jaguar diffs. It was looked after by a great and talented mechanic, Richard, who could mend it no matter how much I could bend it! Fozzy, my brother in law, was the co-pilot and race weekends were passed in a haze of petrol and beer. Racing always was on a Sunday, boozing was always on a Saturday; I am sure I could have performed better without a perpetual race day hangover.
Anyway, the point of this story is about one of our journeys to a race meeting. At the time I had a V8 petrol Range Rover and towed the vehicle on a large 4 wheeled trailer, complete with tools, spare wheels and parts. The combined rig was quite weighty. One busy bank holiday weekend we were on our way to a course and travelling along the A1 near Selby Fork and the car just suddenly decided to give up the ghost, all power lost and although the engine still ran, it would not rev and there was insufficient oomph to move the car and the trailer. Fortunately we had stopped just near a lay by that had a cafe on it but we had to stop short by about 50 yards on the A1 nearside lane. I called the RAC who said it would be over an hour before they could get to me. Fozzy went to the cafe, bought a couple of teas and we sat in glorious sunshine on the back of the trailer to await rescue. The traffic was horrendous, not helped by the Range Rover and trailer blocking one carriageway; it backed up as far as the eye could see. Most cars that crawled by were shouting abuse at us, they seemed to think that we had deliberately stopped there for a cup of tea!
The chap who ran the cafe came down the carriageway to investigate, he had a diesel Sierra that he claimed could easily pull us off the road into the lay by and despite our reservations we agreed to let him have a go. Because we were stopped short of the lay by he had to drive off in the opposite direction, turn around and come back towards us in the traffic; that took a little while.
So, we hitched the Range Rover with a very hefty rope to the back of the Sierra and this good Samaritan took up the slack with his car. Then he let out the clutch and revved the nuts off, smoke billowed from the exhaust and soon after from the bonnet too. Slowly, inch by inch the Range Rover, trailer, race vehicle, spare wheels, all the spare parts, tools and I started to move, but the noise from the Sierra was a cacophony of tortured metal, of an engine being stretched way beyond manufacturers specifications. We made it of course and we thanked the man by buying further teas and waiting for the RAC, but I’m sure his car was jiggered.
The RAC chap duly arrived and after a bit of investigation discovered that the connection on the RR’s control unit had become detached. How so? Well in Land Rover’s wisdom they had put the unit under the passenger seat and Fozzy decided that he needed to move his seat back just enough to pull the cabling out and incapacitate the car….
Nice cup of tea though!