On Sunday the 30th of July 2017, the Masonic Province of Warwickshire hosted the Midlands Central stage of The Classic 300 car rally, an event organised by the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club to showcase three-hundred years of English Freemasonry.
The first stage of the event took place on Sunday 21st May 2017 with a gathering of 2,000 people and a large number of classic vehicles at Windsor Great Park. They were waved-off by the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent.
Different stages of the rally have been taking place across England and Wales during the year. Travelling gavels made from con-rods are carried throughout. Participants have visited many famous motor-racing circuits and motoring venues including the Isle of Man’s TT circuit.
The event will conclude on October the 1st 2017 when the last stage of the rally will arrive at Brooklands motor circuit in Weybridge, Surrey.
Three areas - the North, South and Midlands - have each been made responsible for organising and operating a 300-mile run for 300 vehicles.
The Midlands Central stage of the event was organized by Phil Morris, Phil Egginton and the Midlands Regional Organiser, Peter Manning, who is the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire.
Entrant number 172 was WBro Tony Pointing, who navigated for Jason Sheppard in his 1996 Mini Cooper 1275GT.
Unfortunately, the wheelchair of Jason's father, WBro Mike Sheppard, wouldn’t fit into the Mini, so WBro Mike had to drive the support vehicle with his wife Anna, Tony’s step-mum Bridget, and Rosa the mascot.
WBro Pointing was originally a Warwickshire Mason, having been the first initiate of Heartland Lodge No. 8990., which meets at Guy’s Cliffe in Warwick. That said, WBro Tony is also the current Worshipful Master of Danetre Lodge No. 8594, which meets at Daventry. To ensure that the Province of Northants & Hunts Province was properly represented, the Mini sported magnetic signs on its doors proudly displaying the Provincial logo together with the Coritani and Danetre lodge-badges.
The Mini's door-sign
The entrants met at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon. The Mini was in some seriously elegant company with an E-Type Jaguar, a range of MG’s spanning more than 70-years, several Porsches (including a number of Boxsters and a 911), a Maserati, a couple of Morgans, an Austin Healey (Mike's favourite, after the Mini), a Bentley and a Morris Minor. They all put-on a fully polished and gleaming display.
After having had a quick tour of the museum and taken-on supplies of bacon butties and coffee, they came under the starter's flag and set off for the finish at the Transport Museum in Coventry.
The route took in plenty of England’s fine scenery and spectacular villages. It included a stop-off to view the Vulcan Bomber at Wellesbourne Airfield as well as visits to Charlecote Park, Shakespeare's birthplace, Packwood House, Wroxall Abbey and Kenilworth Castle. A picnic lunch took place at Ryton Pools Country Park, just outside Coventry. With the weather staying dry and warm, the event made for a very relaxed and enjoyable day.
The last Midlands route yet to take place is the Eastern stage, which commences on Sunday the 27th August 2017 and is being hosted by the Masonic Province of Northants and Hunts. The organisers are WBro Dermot Bambridge (Treasurer for the Midlands routes) and WBro John Harmer. Both brethren are members of Silverstone Lodge No. 9877.
The Midlands Eastern stage will start at Towcester Racecourse before travelling between two historic places linked to two of the most famous Freemasons in history: George Washington and Sir Winston Churchill. Refreshments will be taken at Sulgrave Manor near Banbury, the ancestral home of the Washingtons. The stage will then pass through Warwickshire and Gloucestershire, taking-in some of the finest parts of the Cotswolds and the Cotswold Motor Museum. It will finish at the Blenheim Palace Festival of Transport near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. For those with an interest in classic vehicles, the event is well worth a visit. Blenheim Palace is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.