What’s it like to drive a classic MGB around the legendary racetrack at Silverstone?
Having grown up hearing about my dad’s various MGB GTs back in the 60s and then having had the pleasure to hire a lovely red 1969 model for his 60th birthday, I thought I’d ticked all the MGB boxes, apart from possibly owning an MGB in the future that is. But then along came the opportunity to be driven around Silverstone in one as part of MG car club’s MGLive! meeting. Helped by the fact that my girlfriend is an MG Car Club Member.
This was back in the Summer of 2016 and was made even more special as Rory from Top Gear was filming there on the same day, and on the track at the same time, albeit sufficiently far in front of us that we didn’t appear in any of the subsequent ‘Extra Gear’ footage! Here you can see them prepping the £95k MG Abingdon with its swift 0-60 in 3.8 seconds offering!
So what’s it all about? Well MGLive! is the biggest gathering of MGs in the world and even though my knowledge of MGs only really stretched to MGBs there were of course older MGAs, newer MGCs and many MG Rovers and MG Maestros as well. There were also many old men with beards but this didn’t appear to be a prerequisite for attending.
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Visiting the event myself and perusing the various trade stands, aisles of display cars and watching the racing out on the track would have been perfectly sufficient but we’d already booked a few laps on the track in our own MBG! (well my girlfriend’s parent’s MG). Her dad had explained it was a little bit different in previous years, whereby you could pretty much fly around the track as quick as you liked, so I was pleased that the circuit tours driver briefing dictated a 50mph maximum, no overtaking, and leaving plenty of room between cars. All fine by me.
During the racing lunchtime break we assembled in a car park near Brooklands Corner where you could sense the excitement in the air. There was time to check out the row of waiting cars but we were told not to stray too far away as they wanted everyone to drive around the track in their allocated order. After about 20 minutes we were giving the nod to “start your engines”, although by the time the snake of cars actually gets going there’s plenty of time to switch on the ignition. However not wanting any awkward, embarrassing moments we made sure we started up along with everybody else. We didn’t want to blow our big moment!
So following the queue of cars in front of us we went out onto the track and commenced the first of our two 3.66 mile long laps. Rather than finding the list of rules restricting it actually meant we could enjoy it more as we never felt anybody was going to be up our bum! In fact we never did get up to 50. Maybe 40 was our top speed. It was quite the thrill driving under the Silverstone banner on one of the long straights, and even though we were hardly speeding along, you lose all sense of speed on such wide, sweeping tracks anyway. There was no opportunity to swap drivers on the 2-lap procession and anyhow, I haven’t yet been signed off to drive the dad’s pride and joy. I’ll keep working on that 🙂
So after maybe 10/15 minutes we were all done and dusted and after passing the “chequered flag” along the ‘International Pits Straight’ we headed back to the communal car park to meet up with the parents. So no incidents. No dramas. A nice little spin for our M-reg Citroen yellow MGB GT and the bonus of seeing Extra Gear filmed, which did lead to my girlfriend’s dad making a small cameo appearance – I’m fairly sure chiefly due to his signature MGB owner’s beard 😉