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London to Brighton 2000

We set off early to get to Crystal Palace before things got really busy and were there at about 7am. The recent heavy rainfall had left the park very soggy. It was a real shame to see the concourse mini we were following driving through an inch of mud to get to the parking area. The whole car park was very muddy, as you'd expect when having 3000 minis drive through a soggy field. The Minis were parked in rows, about eight rows in all that were about a quarter of a mile in length each. From past experience, we didn't drive into Crystal Palace but parked around the corner and walked in to get the T-shirt and run plaque. If you drive into the Park you are only let out on a first-in-first-out basis. By the time we got there, there were enough Minis to mean we wouldn't leave the park until about 11am!

The queue for registration was a total joke! In past runs, they have had several booths, each one dedicated to a certain band of run numbers. Numbers 1-800 on one booth, 801-1600 in the next etc, the queue got to be about a hundred yards long but it moved fairly quickly. This year they changed things. I guess it was an attempt to speed things up, which is fair and they must be applauded for trying to make the difference. However, there were only two queue's this year. One was over half a mile long, stretching from one end of the park to the other, the second was about a hundred yards. No guesses for which queue we joined! I have no idea how long the people in the other queue must have waited, but we stood in the rain for about half an hour to get our run pack. I'd estimate that they must have waited for three times that much, or more. The difference with registration this year was that you didn't have to sign a sheet because you had to sign a slip of paper sent to you in the registration envelope you handed in at the desk. I can see how they thought this could have made things quicker, but cutting down on the registration points was a mistake.

We left Crystal Palace at around 7.30am and headed home. We live in Bromley which is about five miles done the road from the park. We got home and put on the run plaque and T-shirt then set off for Brighton. We know from past runs that it's best to miss the traffic jam that builds up as people leave Crystal Palace. They set off at 9am so as long as you leave before then, you'll have a clear run. We set off at 8.20am and headed for the M25 to connect with the M23. In all the journey was clear, but we did see a fair few minis so leaving before the runners must be popular. The journey from home to Mederia Drive took about an hour. At 9.20am we arrived at the top entrance to the Drive, just to be turned away by a man saying it wouldn't open until 10am. He argued that the runners didn't leave until 9am so how could we be here this early!

We sat around until 10am then went in. We were the sixth Mini to enter the Drive, parking nice and close to the Gym-Carna which leaves you nice and close to the activity. I had a list of things I wanted to buy so I looked around the stalls. First person I bumped into was Nige, we had a good chat about stuff and we then continued down the Drive. A few paces further and we met John Bullas with Helene. Another chat about stuff and we continued again. The Drive was still fairly empty and many of the stalls were still setting up. The weather was cloudy but the rain had stopped, the temperature was neither hot or cold - just right for getting stuck into the stalls. I was after a 12G940 cylinder head to put on the 998. Ade did it to his and got an extra 10bhp from it over my 998 with a stage one, so I thought I'd try it. It seems the stalls at the show weren't that cheap. If anything, they were totally expensive. One standard 12G295 was priced at £200! There were many '940 heads but none were less than £75, which is about £30 too much. There was one eight port, second hand, priced for £1000, but it had a set of two twin choke DCOE45's with manifold for £150!

We moved on to look for an exhaust. My current Freeflow/RC40 is beginning to blow so it needs replacing. We wanted something louder and John Bullas recommended a Peko, although he also said I'd need cochlea implants as well! That's a little too loud. The Play Mini system looks good but the bore is far too large for a 998. I decided to go for the Maniflow system with the LCB (as opposed to the Freeflow) as a manifold. The man on the stall had one fitted to his Cooper and started it up for us to hear and we liked it a lot. Louder than the RC40 and with a distinctive throaty roar. Bought one of those. When we met Helene earlier, she said the first MLM was at 11.30am and the time was approaching that as we'd dropped the exhaust back to Booboo. We started off heading to the pier.

As we did. the heavens opened. Not just a bit but totally opened. Pissing rain, totally drenching everything. We walked under the walkway section to get to the pier and met some more Listers. Ade, Ian and John Engpow. We continued to the pier and by the time we got there we were soaked - not much fun at all. The first meet took place a little later and a bit along from the pier, kind of an improvisation thing. After that we continued shopping and things started to fill up and the weather got a bit better (in that it eased to a downpour!). After that we grabbed a bite to eat and then continued shopping.

We found a '940 head that looked standard but had too much carbon on to look for cracks, that was £55. A better price but still a bit much. We then found a stall that had a bonnet in white. We weren't shopping for a bonnet but as our one is about 50% filler we thought we'd find out how much - £15. He also had a '940 head for £45 which looked very nice. It was labelled as having new valve guides and had been cleaned up and re-sprayed. It looked good to me and we negotiated a price with the stall owner for £50 for both the bonnet and the head. I'm well pleased. I bought a head gasket for £4 and a manifold gasket for £1 to conclude the buying for the day.

By that time it was getting on for 1.30pm, time for the second meet, so we headed off for the pier again. This time we met Anne and his mystery navigator. We were a bit disappointed to find out it was only Andy In Belgium! Had a good chat again and many more Listers arrived, some of whom I didn't recognise or get a chance to talk to. Colin Sutton was there, Scott and Kim, John B, Ade, Ian (Spag), Greg and Mrs Fripp, Andy (Reilyelf), Nigel, Helene and Ade, and probably others I've forgotten. After that we headed off to the Mini and set off for home. We left Mederia Drive about 3pm.

There were still many hundreds of Minis still waiting to enter the Drive. If there is one thing that spoils the event, it's the traffic jam between London and Brighton. If the organisers could work on that, the event would be much better.


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