Another year, another Ultimate Dubs trip – our traditional season opener. Of course, it wouldn’t be us if we weren’t cutting it fine and it looked like the Vento might not make it at all this year after failing MOT 4 days before we were due to leave and a serious set back with the powdercoating on the wheels.
At this point it’s only right to give a shout out to Stefan, Brian and Gerry who worked on the car while Connor and I were on holiday and without whose help the Vento would probably still be in a hundred bits! Thank you all so much!
Unbelievably, I got an MOT re-test on Thursday evening – and passed! Then it was time to sort out the wheel disaster. After trying and failing to get the tyres to seal or make the wheels look in any way acceptable, we were about to admit defeat when Simon offered to lend me his genuine Work Equip 03’s for the weekend. How do you say no to an offer like that? They are probably one of the most valuable things I have ever had on a car, including the car! We tried them on…they fit and actually looked pretty good, so I nervously agreed. A massive thanks again to Simon who was actually off sick from work and dragged himself out of bed to help us (and Brian – a dedicated last minuter like us) with wheels and tyres the night before the trip.
A quick dash to the tax office on Friday morning and it was off to Newry to meet the convoy. Even more of a miracle than the Vento was Paul Hicklin’s track style Polo meeting us there, fresh from paint the day before, with the brakes causing problems til 4am and the harnesses only picked up that morning! Fair play to him, the car looked good and the newly smoothed bay and interior turned a lot of heads on the I Love Bass stand. Also travelling with us from Newry were Carson, in his red MK5 on BBS RF’s, Fluff, Scotty, Brian and the NI Euro party bus Passat.
The run to Dublin went smoothly, stopping off at Balbriggan to meet some of the Southerners travelling with us – Cian’s silver MK4 Golf on X5 wheels, Paul’s bagged Bora and the unmistakeable lime green Caddy van! The ferry crossing was smooth, luckily for some of the more reluctant sea-farers and all went well until a lack of sat-nav’s sent 3 of us the wrong way and we ended up a bit lost somewhere around Whitchurch. I honestly didn’t know there was a hill-climb stage on the way to Telford! Arriving at the hotel about half an hour late, we met Brian, who had followed the same directions but managed to go the right way…
After checking in it was time for tea, a few drinks (including Jambo’s £30 bottle of wine!) and a lot of laughs.
Saturday morning dawned cold and dull but dry and we managed to get the cars washed and mostly dried. Fluff had to wash his twice after Thompo removed his magnetic front numberplate and left it behind at the jet wash 3 miles away!
The cars that eventually made up the joint NI Euro/Shed Sixty2 indoor stand this year were: Brian’s beautiful black MK2 Audi TT on Accuair and BBS RSII’s, Fluff’s red MK5 Golf on 18″ Artec Turbo P’s, Scotty’s white GTI Polo on red centred Image wheels and with Recaro CS’s and Dean’s purple Audi A3. After waiting half the day for Brian’s car to use up some fuel the stand was set up and it was time for the Saturday night festivities. Stefan had flown over to meet us, and also joining us were Toph, 2 more Chris’s and Ben. The hotel bar was much quieter than in previous years but we still had a brilliant night’s craic.
On the morning of the show we awoke to snow and a freezing wind and only Toph (satin turquoise MK3 on black, staggered Porsche D90s) Irish Chris (black MK4 on bronze 18″ banded R32 steels) and I managed to brave the elements to put our cars on to the Shed Sixty2 outdoor stand. Joining us outside, among others, was a yellow US spec MK3 Golf – roughly painted but seriously cool – a black early S4 on RS4 wheels and loads of R32’s! I dont think I’ve seen that many in my life, never mind in the one place!
The show was bigger than ever this year and the standard of cars as high as always, though resident painter and straight talker Gizmo did find a few flaws here and there! It seemed like there were a few more new and different things than in the past couple of years, rather than same old same old, which looks good for the season ahead. As usual the crowds (and our hangovers) prevented us taking many pictures and we spent most of the day chatting to familiar faces and browsing the trade stands.
GTINI were there with their brilliant raffle car, a Deep Blue Pearl Lupo on its first show outing to be raffled in aid of NI Childrens Hospice at the end of the year. (Details here) The boys were busy all day, but still had time for a quick chat and a laugh as usual.
Flying the flag for NI in the prizes this year were Gethin’s (GTINI) mental turbo MK3 Golf which took Runner Up MK3 and Marty’s army themed Bolf which was Runner Up MK4. Both were thoroughly well deserved, congratulations to both of them!
We braved Grand Canyon sized potholes at the BP garage on the way out of Telford, then took a different route through Wales on the way home this year. A drive through the twisty mountain roads was a welcome change from the monotony of the motorways – which I definitely wouldn’t be afraid to do again, though perhaps in daylight! The 1.4 Vento struggled to keep up with the 3 Revo mapped cars (TT, Golf and Polo) but that was nothing new!
Having had difficulties for 2 years in a row at our usual Premier Inn in Bangor, we opted for the Travelodge this year. Cheap (half the price of PI) and not exactly cheerful – but at least they didn’t call the police on us!
Following some difficulties over the stand in the run up to and the day before the show, some people were left with a bad taste in their mouths, but overall it was a weekend of more highs than lows – the company and craic made it an excellent trip. Roll on Dubshed!