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The Pre-war Minor Network ‘Pacesetters’ Rally

Norfolk-Suffolk Borders – June 8th-10th

The year 2018 heralds the 90th anniversary of the birth of both the Morris Minor and its progeny, the MG Midget. William Morris admitted the existence of the Minor to the motoring press in late May of 1928, therefore our Pacesetters rally in early June is being held very close to the anniversary date of the car’s first appearance on the scene. The MG Midget made its debut on September 14th, 1928 via the pages of The Autocar magazine, Cecil Kimber needing very little time to design and construct what was effectively a Minor sports car. The rest they say is history.  (That statement isn’t strictly correct, as surviving examples of both the Minor and M Type Midget continue to create their own history to this day.)

This, the Network’s ninth annual rally is dedicated to celebrating these important anniversaries by bringing together the current custodians of some of these surviving vehicles so that they can be exercised on part of the quietest byways network in England. The counties of Norfolk and Suffolk have a vast system of lanes which inter-connect the villages and small market towns scattered across the region. Despite being less than 90 miles from central London the contrast to be found in the pace of life is startling while the ‘locals’ are friendly in the main, although avoid the free-range pigs!

Rally HQ is the 100th Bomb Group Museum at Thorpe Abbotts, a venue used thrice previously to host Minor gatherings including the Minor – Seven Challenge in 2014. It was here in this corner of South Norfolk that an aerial armada of Boeing B17 Fortresses along with 3000 US servicemen were based between 1942 and 1945. Both of the rally’s tours will start from the museum’s car park on the now disused USAAF airfield with some rally crews returning on Sunday afternoon to participate in the driving tests on an 1100 yard length of surviving taxiway.  Much has been written about the ‘Bloody 100th’ but a visit to the museum to view the artefacts and documents gathered there brings home the ultimate sacrifice made by the many young Americans who failed to make the return Atlantic crossing after May 1945.

The Saturday tour route will take us to the site of another former airfield while many more of the regions beautiful vistas will also be included, either on the Saturday or Sunday tours. Among these gems are the Southern Norfolk Broads, the Waveney Valley and the constantly eroding and ever-changing Suffolk coastline. At the time of writing the routes are still to be finalised but wherever our tours take us, the beauty of the local landscape and its buildings will not disappoint.

The social gatherings are an important part of the weekend’s activities, none more so than the Saturday evening rally dinner. On June 9th our dinner will be held at Michael & Hazel Knox-Johnson’s restaurant ‘1066 at the Chequers’ which is located in Bressingham, just two miles west of Diss. The venue will be exclusively ours throughout the evening including the use of the large car park. The building was subject to a fire in the last decade and its restoration has been carried out to an extremely high standard with its Suffolk clay lump walls and reed thatch roof now in pristine condition. The restaurant and bar area has an adjoining patio which should ensure that those wishing to enjoy an aperitif in the late spring evening sunshine (fingers crossed!) can do so.

It should be noted that Bressingham is also home to a well-respected steam museum and gardens and is well worth a visit during the course of your stay. Part of the museum also houses a collection of Dad’s Army artefacts and memorabilia including the van belonging to Corporal Jones.

Our Friday and Sunday pub-meets will both take place at The Swan Inn, Hoxne, a 15th century coaching inn that has recently undergone refurbishment. The landlord and owner has hosted gatherings from other car clubs and will reserve the pub’s car park for our exclusive use on Friday evening. The Inn has a large restaurant as well as ample seating in the bars. If you are going to eat there on either of the two evenings it’s as well to book a table in advance of arrival to avoid disappointment. The Inn is 5.8 miles from Diss, 3.5 miles from Thorpe Abbotts and 8.5 miles from Bressingham.

Motoring entries will be restricted to just 25 cars and with our rally celebrating the Minor and Midget’s 90th birthday, it’s hoped that they will quickly be taken up. To avoid disappointment please book early by completing and returning the entry form as soon as possible.

Further rally venues will be announced in due course as will a comprehensive rally ‘options’ list.

N.B. Special thanks go to Kate Martin for the page header image and to Peter Brock for designing the ‘Pacesetters’ logo.