IVVCC Pre War Run August 2022

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Our newly admitted member pointed us in the direction of the IVVCC pre war run to take place on Sunday 11th August 2022 where our base was the very famous Pembroke Kilkenny Hotel, situated in the heart of the city and on the same spot as the former Statham Garage used to be.  They offer 4 star accommodation, business facilities and delicious food and drink in Statham’s Bar and Restaurant. 

It is true that they have come a long way since the days of the Statham-Ford Special.  But given the fantastic history of the building it seems only right that they dedicatd part of their offering to the family who made it great.

As an added bonus, they have lovingly restored the Statham-Ford Special and brought it home. It still participates in vintage runs and in particular on our run. The 1930s were a very special era in Irish motor racing. The three successful Irish International Grand Prix held in Dublin’s Phoenix Park between 1929 and 1931 encouraged many enthusiasts to become involved and led to races being held on street and road circuits throughout Ireland. 

For those that could not afford a purpose-built racing car, there was an alternative – designing and building your own ‘Special’. This was a very popular route into motor racing for Irish enthusiasts and these ‘Specials’ were often of a very high standard and very competitive.  Driven initially by it’s designer and builder, George Statham, the car was driven to several notable successes by MJ Hynes, who took over driving duties in 1930. 

Powered by a Ford V-8 engine it had such a notable success at the 1934 Phoenix Park Senior Race that it won outright in a new record time. But it’s greatest success came in the 1935 Limerick Grand Prix, a street race that attracted some of the world’s best drivers. There it placed 7th overall against some of the finest purpose-built racing cars of the day built by such legendary names as ERA, MG and Bugatti.

At the drivers briefing Declan Grogan welcomed the bunch of thirty or so drivers and navigators, pointed out that he runs events, notwithstanding foul weather conditions and encouraged us all to soak up the experience.  Whilst there were a goodly number of Model T Men and Ladies present, it was interesting that the brass folk kept their Ts for the following Sunday’s Brass Brigade so as to save a tortuous days work shining up the metal work after a deluge of mist and rain that was on offer for this event. 

In a nutshell there was a sole T present, very conspicuous in its loneliness.  Declan’s idea of two regularity sections Tulip Sheets, not a favourite of some, is born out of an essential ingredient to attract the younger motor heads who enjoy the cognitive challenge and competition.  As a result there were many young boys and girls present whose company new all enjoyed.  As it happened a Model T member and son achieved the best mark and were overall winners.  Congratulations to Shane and Thomas.

Our mid morning stop was in the picturesque village of Inistogue, a small village situated on the River Nore, 25 kilometres (16 mi) southeast of Kilkenny. Historically, the name has been spelt as Ennistioge, Ennisteage, and in other ways.  Inistioge is entered by crossing a 10 arch stone bridge. The village has a tree-lined square and a number of 18th and 19th century homes along the river. Inistioge and its village green have been used as a filming location for a number of films. The Woodstock Estate is located one mile (1.6 km) outside the village.  We were very happy to shelter at the Otter Bar for tea/coffee and freshly made scones and chocolate cake.

At the prize giving, Declan thanked the crews for supporting the event and engaging competitively to make it really worth while.  He forgave a bunch of Model T for abandoning the afternoon regularities and hoped they enjoyed their afternoon tea in the Mount Juliet Club house on their way back to base.  Best overall for the day was Shane and Thomas, with a mere second or so from the runners up. 

In appreciation of the time and effort that was clearly put into organising the event and in accordance with common practice, Una Crowley, our host for the 34th Annual Rally to take place in Kilkenny in July 2023, presented Declan with a hand turned native ash bowl as a token of our appreciation for his endeavors.  It was a very fitting occasion for a presentation to the new owners of the Hotel Business to receive the original log book for the trade plates from the previous family who hoped it would add to their collection of memorabilia.

Whilst it was a wet day, there were no complaints from any quarters.  The atmosphere was one of cordiality and friendship with owners and crew delighted to have an opportunity to take out their trusted steeds in company with contemporaries. All are grateful to the administrators, time keepers and marshals for providing us with delightful and interesting routes. 

We will return. Thank you Declan.

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A one marque organisation, catering for the Austin Seven, is what makes The Irish Austin Seven Club unique. Prospective owners are always welcome to make contact with our membership who will be pleased to present and demonstrate the Seven’s special characteristics and driving experience.

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