Thursday, 13 June 2019

Oliver Winterbottom – May Bulletin

1 May I arrive at PJS Sports Cars workshops near Burton upon Trent, at 2:30pm. I get the chance to inspect the impressive photo album recording many of their high quality Lotus restorations. After being shown around the impressive business and meeting the employees, I go down to Tatenhill Village Hall. Paul Shipley, the Lotus dealer principal is busy preparing for the evening. He has brought in Edd Stanton of Scorpion Event Solutions to set up fully professional audio-visual equipment for the evening. He soon loads my memory stick of slides for my talk. PJS have set up an interesting display of Lotus outside, so with everything running smoothly, I drive into Burton and check-in to the Premier Inn. I then return to await the start of the evening. 

As 7:00pm approaches, the car park is filling with Lotuses and the Hall is filling up. Everyone has a seat at a table laden with sandwiches and snacks. I believe at least three or four attendees are Lotus and TVR owners. A superb red Elite was an early arrival and a very nice TVR was parked nearby.  

I was provided with a table, chair and microphone to give my talk. Edd projected the slides on a huge screen, and I think it went well! A question and answer session brought some interesting questions – I cannot speak for the answers! (I am the little white head sticking up on the left of the screen). 

I then went to sign copies of my book. An amazing 17 or so were bought on the night and at least 4 beforehand. There was plenty of chat and it was a really superb event. The proceeds of the evening £262.50 went to the Midlands Air Ambulance, a very worthy cause.

  Paul Shipley and PJS Sports Cars did me proud - thank you Paul and your team very much.

3 May I arrive at Donington race circuit around 9:45am, for the first day of the three-day HSCC Historic race meeting. Richard Woollaston of the Lotus Elite/Eclat/Excel Club has kindly arranged a pass that allows me to park closely to the classic car exhibits. Friday is practicing and qualifying for the weekend racing. The crowd and classic vehicles are in short supply as it is a working day. There are four Lotuses displayed which outnumbered many clubs who had zero or a couple of cars. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the release of the Lotus Elite, and Richard kindly gave me a commemorative mug. 

As lunchtime approached Richard invited me to accompany him on a test lap of the track. It had been a long time since I sat in a Lotus Elite, and it was a first for me to see Donington from the track. The weather was a little uncooperative, as the photograph below may show! 

In the afternoon, various interesting people called by, and I supplied a couple of books which was a bonus! I also left some bookmarks for the weekend.

The organisers had suggested they may interview me but no one came by the time I departed. Never mind.

I understand that over the weekend there were not as many classic cars on display as normally expected. As it hailed and rained with a freezing wind, sadly I guess that many stayed at home.

In the afternoon, various interesting people called by and I supplied a couple of books, which was a bonus! Here, I am 'caught' by a paparazzi camera man (thank you Roger Kemp of the Jaguar Drivers Club) talking with two nice ladies from Stone, Staffordshire and Ian Hissey to owner of the pre -production Lotus Eclat on display.

5 May Amazon UK who had run out of stock of my book at the beginning of the month now have three available. By 8 May their stock is up to five available.

7 May I receive for approval (given) the article on Colin Chapman and his weight saving views written for a new 'in house' magazine titled Us Lot for Lotus staff. I am delighted that my book gets a mention!I quote: "I retired in 2009 and recently put together a talk entitled Lotus DNA – Views on Colin Chapman' Philosophies to promote my book A Life in Car Design; Jaguar, Lotus, TVR (Veloce Publishing)."

10 May Embarrassingly, I have to advise various folk including Steve Cropley Editor-in-Chief, Autocar that the 40th anniversary of the announcement of the Lotus Type 75 Elite is 15th May, and not the 17th. This is due to old age and the worn condition of my copy of the contemporary local newspaper.

13 May Amazon UK appear to have sold another book since 8 May, so now they have four in stock.

14 May Club Lotus ask if they can publish my story on the first three days in May. The talk and book signing at Tatenhill Village Hall for PJS Sports Cars, and the Historic meeting at Donington Park with the Lotus Elite Eclat Excel Club. I am delighted to approve for the July edition of Club Lotus News

15 May 45th Anniversary of the announcement of the Lotus Elite. Richard Woollaston circulates a birthday card.

Meanwhile I pose for a photograph with my sisters “Mini” asking “Which is the Mini?” 

I think it is the one on the right!

16 May I visit the RAF Museum at Cosford near Wolverhampton, for the Annual Jaguar Ex-Apprentices lunch. There were about 45 of us ranging from about 70 years of age upwards! The museum is definitely recommended as it has a large number of unique experimental aircraft as well as superb examples of the more common varieties. I distributed a number of the book marks.

18 May I assist Mike Kimberley with some Lotus event dates for a magazine article about the Lotus activities in the 1970s. It gets harder to remember all the correct dates and details as time goes by.

26 May I return from a few days with the family to find an email from ERA driver Paddins Dowling with a picture of the pair of us at Silverstone  13 April when he bought a copy of my book.  

26 May I receive a forwarded letter from Veloce sent by a past colleague. Doug Mellor was a Senior Buyer at Lotus 1982-84 and was a great help on the M90 prototype build project. He related a particularly over ambitious day,  when we thought we could visit Llanelli in Wales from Norwich and return after doing business all in one day – we couldn’t! I was delighted he said he had enjoyed my book so much. Thanks, Douglas.

27 May Delighted to meet another happy reader of my book in the Barnham Broom Bell. It's good to hear that people enjoy reading it.

31 May Amazon UK now have 8 books in stock, this is four more than on May 13. Either they have sold a lot or they are buying a lot - I hope it is selling them in vast quantities and then restocking.

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