Saturday, 2 May 2015

Off road trials with Kevin and Sam.

Regular readers of my weekly blog with be familiar with the father and son duo of Kevin and Sam and their off road trial beetle's. Both Kevin and Sam are members of The Outcast VW Club, and attend off road trials all over the U.K. I have talked to both them on numerous occasions about their off road trialing exploits and have often thought that would be a good day out. (and also make a good blog entry!) On Sunday 19th April they were both competing in a trial which was only 13 miles from our home town of Aylesbury, so they asked me if I would like to go along to watch, and of course I jumped at the chance. Following Sam's directions I found the venue, which was just outside a small village called Ivinghoe Aston which is nestled deep in the Bedfordshire countryside. There were about 50 competitors on the Sunday, and about 8 different classes of vehicles depending on whether your vehicle was front or rear engined, and whether your vehicle was front or rear wheel drive, or whether... well the list just goes on and on. I went over to this event to specifically follow Kevin and Sam to see how they got on, so the majority of photo's are of the two Outcast members.
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Once inside the venue field I parked the bus
and set off to find Kevin and Sam. I didn't have
to look far as their beetle's stood out, as not
only are they so distinctive but as they were the
only Volkswagen beetle's there!.

I don't know much about off road trialling but
I assumed you had to have a modified vehicle
of some sort like Kevin's and Sam's, but the
majority of competitors had everyday normal
hatchbacks that didn't look modified at all.

Sam and his co-driver Max on the start of the
first hill climb. There was 7 / 8 different stages
and each vehicle class started at a different
stage, then each class of car moved round
all the different stages in turn.

Sam navigating his 1970 beetle up one of the
steep slopes. Sam's beetle is only running a

1300tp engine which is pretty much stock, so
you don't necessarily need huge amounts
of power to have fun off road trialling.

Each stage has coloured poles to mark out the
course, a bit like downhill skiing. As you make
your way up the course you have to keep
the red poles on the left and the white poles
on the right. If you fail to stay within the poles
you will be deemed to have failed that section.

The competitors in each class ascend the hill
in a certain order as determined by the officials.
 In the morning session, this little NSU 1000
followed Kevin and Sam and it looked totally
standard. These NSU's are renowned for
performing well at hill climbs and circuit races.

I don't know what these small 2 seater trial cars
are called, but they were popular and very good
at getting up the steep inclines.

The competitors are allowed to walk each of
the courses to try to guess the best route up
the hill before attempting the climb the hill in
the car. Kevin and his co-driver Mike, (on the
left) with Sam and Max (on the right). Each
section has a steward (in the hi-viz jacket)
but it's no good asking them for the best

route, if they did know the best route up the
hill, they wouldn't tell you.This photo gives
you a better perspective of just how steep
some of these hill climbs really were.

Sam, Kevin and the NSU are the first to arrive
at the next section. You can see just how deep
into the countryside the event was held, we're
miles from anywhere.

I do like this photo, it must the dramatic sky
with the cars in the foreground

The field that host's the trials is massive. I have
used a lot of 'zoom' in this photo and you can
just make out my bus in the centre of the photo.

In Kevin and Sam's class, class C2, there were
about 7 competitors but as I had to quickly move
between stages to catch Kevin and Sam it looks
as though there are only 3 cars in their group

Kevin and Mike on another of the ascents, this
was about as far as Kevin got. The course takes

a sharp right hand turn just by Kevin's front wheel
but it was very slippery and very steep and just

too much for the little beetle.

Kevin concedes defeat and waits to watch his
son Sam attempt the same section to see
he can do any better...

Sam managed to get about as far as Kevin. It's
that steep slope on the right that's catching them
all out.

The small plucky NSU couldn't get much
further than Kevin and Sam's Beetle's.

This aluminium bodied 2 seater got a bit further
before stopping here. It must be because he
has more weight over the rear axle, thus
providing more traction.

Sometimes slow and steady with controlled
rev's is the best option to provide maximum
traction at the rear wheels for getting up the
hill, but having watched all the previous
competitors fail at this point...

.. they decided to give it  full throttle, maximum 
power and a lot of mud flinging. These guy's 
did make it up to the finish in the end.

Two standard road legal cars, a Vauxhall Nova
and a Rover 216 prepare to go hill climbing.
This really is a cheap fun form of motor sport.
Sam was telling me, in fact it may have been the
driver of the Rover, that she is only just 16 and
cannot legally drive on the road but she has

been regularly competing in these off road
trials for a few months.

Kevin has lost traction in this photo and has
come to a halt. Kevin is running
a 1776cc
engine which provides more than enough
power to get up a hill but once you loose
traction, no amount of power will help you.

Sam trying his best to get up another of the
stages. You can see just how spread out the
sections were. 

The plucky NSU tried it's best, but at the top of
the hill was a drop to the right, and the NSU slid
into the dip and got stuck so that was the
of his run.

One of the more serious competitors, this guy
had all sorts of things fixed to his boot lid to add
 weight including a trolley jack and an umbrella.!

Kevin starting the next section of the hill climb.

Turning a sharp right on a slippery slope is not
as easy as it sounds, and you also have to make
sure you stay within the coloured poles.

Kevin and Mike on their way to complete this

You can see by how hard Sam is turning the
steering, just how tight some of the turns are
on the different sections.

Driving across the hill is probably worse than
just up or down, as it looked like some of the
cars that completed this section could easily
have rolled over.

Sam and Max also on their way to completing
this section of the course. You can see just

how important having plenty of ground
clearance is in this photo.

This grey 2003 Toyota MR2 was a really nice
looking two seater sports car. The overall
condition and paint were both immaculate and
this guy uses it for hill climbing. This off road
trialling really is an affordable way to get into
a fun form of motor sport.

The only alteration I could see on the car was
that the owner had mounted 2 spare wheels
on the engine lid, apart from that it's a case of
drive the car to the event, do some hill climbing,
and then drive the car home, it's so simple!

A closer look at one of the vehicles taking part
in the off road hill climb, I have no idea what
make this car is, or what class it would be in,
all I know is, it was immaculate and wouldn't look
out of place in a classic / sports car show.
The interior was just as nice. The black leather
seats looked very comfortable.

This really was a beautiful looking car, with a
stunning coat of bright red paint. The owner
must be passionate about his off road hobby
to take this car up the muddy slippery sections
of the hill climb.
This box standard road going Ford Fiesta was
having fun going up the courses, and by all
accounts, he did rather well.

The Vauxhall Nova was also performing well.
Apparently it's not all about power, it's about
constant rev's and the route you take.

Kevin and Mike start off on another ascent.
You can see how big this event was by the
cars in the background, which meant a lot of
running about by me to keep up with Kevin
and Sam and all the action.

Kevin making his way up one of the very steep
sections of one of the stages. This stage really
was steeper than it looks in my photo.

Sam and Max on the same section...

And they both made it through the last gate.
Well done guys.

This little aluminium bodied 2 seater with it's
skinny wheels and tyres seemed to get up the
stages quite easily.

I'm not sure if the standard hatchback cars had
their own class or not but they all seemed to be
in the same group.

Sam and Max on yet another hill climb. Sam
had to turn a sharp right just after that white
marker pole, unfortunately there was a serious
slope away from the course and Sam ended
up almost wedged against that tree.

I do like this photo. This is what it is all about,
just two off road cars in a private field and

with plenty of steep hills.

Kevin negotiates a cross section on the hill climb
which is probably worse than going straight or
down as the car wants to slide down the hill.

Having completed his run, Kevin watches
from below as Sam and Max attempt the
same section. Plenty of power seemed to
help on this part of the section.

That's as far as Sam can get on this section.
The steepness on these hill's are not apparent
in the photo's, suffice to say I had trouble
walking up them.

This aluminium bodied 2 seater car has got
about as far as Kevin and Sam managed, but
with the driver and co-driver bouncing up and
 down in their seats, along with plenty of throttle,
the car is making progress, albeit slow.

Plenty more bouncing up and down by the
occupants and continued power they eventually
managed to get to the top of the stage.
They then proceed to go back down to the start,
and after swapping seating positions in the car,
and with plenty more mud flinging at full throttle 
 they proceeded to drive back up this stage.

Kevin and Mike going up, then there's a tight
right hand turn to go back down.

half way down, there is a sharp left hand turn,
to go back up the steepest part,

The gradient, and the lack of traction has finally
got the better of Kevin. A good effort though.

Sam and Max on the same section as Kevin
has just been on. The going up bit is quite easy.

The right hand turn at the top and the descent
are also quite easy, now comes the hard part.
The sharp left and then the steep incline, the
question is, slow and steady or full throttle??

Sam decided on full throttle, and managed to
get just a bit further than his dad. At this point
Sam and Max were bouncing around inside 
the car to try and get more traction. You can 
just make out Max is out of his seat.

Kevin and Mike wait for the course to be cleared
before they attempt the next hill climb. The long
grass is just as slippery as the muddy tyre tracks
the previous vehicles have made. So a decision
has to be made before you start as to what
route you take.

So far so good Kevin, keep the revs constant
and the traction will be there.

Made it.! Well Done Kevin.

Now it's Sam and Max's turn to attack the
same section. Having watched Kevin get up
the hill, do you follow his route or choose
your own route?

Yep, pretty much the same line up the hill.

Yes! Well done Sam, you also made it to the top.

The Outcast VW club members at the start of
the next section on the hill climb. These vehicles
are also Kevin's and Sam's daily drives.

Kevin at the start of hill 8. The gradual incline is
 misleading as it's gets much steeper further
up this section...

and this is how much steeper this section gets.
Again the photo still doesn't realistically show
the true gradient of the hill.

Sam attacking the same section. Unfortunately
this was about as far as both Kevin and Sam
got on this section. But it was a very good
 effort by both of them.

So that was my day out off road trialling
 with fellow Outcast VW club members Kevin 
and Sam. I for one had a great day, even 
though I had to run from section to section to 
keep up with the tyre spinning, mad flinging
action. I know for a fact that Kevin and his 
co-driver Mike, and Sam with his co-driver 
Max also had a great time.Many thanks for
the invite guys and I'll see you both at our
club meet on the 7th May. For those that
are interested, Sam beat his dad by 11 points
on the day, but there is always another day.

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