Blue sky, balmy breezes, guests relaxing in the sun… Not quite the way that our annual PR driving day began at Castle Combe on 2 June. 

Heavy showers washed the circuit and those on “zapping” duty, checking cars in and out, until after lunch.

Then out came the sun, the breeze dried the roads and normal service resumed.

“I don’t normally bring her out in these conditions”, Jim Paull told me, standing in front of his gleaming pillar box red Jaguar XK150 FHC. Jim is no stranger to Castle Combe and he very kindly offered passenger rides through the day around the circuit.

Many thanks to Kia, our hosts the day before, based at Calcot Manor near Tetbury, a conveniently close venue for Castle Combe. Hardly an hour went past on Monday without another email from organiser Alyson Marlow, updating me on the latest twists and turns in the run-up to the event. 

Dave Eden had been on a mission to find a McLaren 650S for us and I had almost given up hope when I emailed him on Monday morning before leaving home. 

Within minutes Dave had replied – car secured. Another email, BMW were in. Numbers were creeping up by the hour. 

On Tuesday morning we had 75 signing on, over 60 guests plus Western Group members.

ID-PR’s revised key management system brought two giant plasma screens to keep a running check on the cars. It’s a high-tech far cry from photocopied sheets stuck to a table and a manual, slightly hit and miss logging system. 

One listed all the available cars and age restrictions for drivers and the other showed who was out in which one, detailing when they went out, so waiting guests had an idea when to expect it back. 

Our massage team was busy, raising over £80 for our charity pot. Kim Henson’s detailed knowledge of classics supported by several items from his personal parts bin kept us guessing in his classics quiz, and added more to our charity pot. 

Our classic display outside was greatly enhanced by Porsche’s replica 911 racer, Skoda’s 1100cc OHC racer and Jim’s XK. Thanks to Kim for all his effort in compiling questions, cars and persuading manufacturers to bring some of their pried collections along.

Our sponsors are an essential part of the day, so many thanks to Honda, Suzuki, Newspress and Peugeot, not fogetting Mitsubishi for sponsoring the massage team, and Vauxhall for sponsoring ID-PR’s excellent key management system, which did so much to ensure the smooth running of the day. 

Kia did the Group proud with our event the day before, offering a wide choice of the company’s latest cars to drive and superb management of the day. Special thanks to Steve, Carly, Dan and Rebecca for an excellent day. 

Special thanks to Alyson Marlow for the months of work to bring us the event. Alyson’s knowledge of it is extensive and it would have been far more difficult to stage the day without her knowledge and professionalism.

McLaren’s efforts paid off and their sleek grey sportster emerged Car of the Day while Simon “Hammer-down” Hucknall (left) excelled in the VW Passat reversing test and did so many miles on the circuit he drained one car of its fuel, but he couldn’t match the most drives on the road as well and the Bristol Glass goblet for Driver of the Day went to Jeremy Clarke. Well done both. 

We are finalising the date for next year and will let you know it as soon as we can, but before then we hope you will take time to complete a short questionnaire we have compiled to get valuable feedback on the day, and unbelievably, we hope to make it even better. Thanks for supporting thewesterngroup this year. Have a good summer!

For images of the day click on the Driving Day tab at the top of the page.

John Kendall | Chairman WGMW

John Kendall
John Kendall
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