Welcome to ‘The BIG Macmillan Motor Show 2023’ held within the grounds of the Turkington’s family business, Turkington Windows & Conservatories HQ on Mahon Road, Portadown. This is the fourth time the family has organised a charity car show were all makes and models, spanning many decades, as well as bikes, tractors and everything in between including model cars, is welcomed.
In 2018 the event was held at the former B&Q site in Craigavon, raising much needed funds for Christian charity, Reach Mentoring. A year later and ‘The BIG Macmillan Motor Show’ was created to bring like-minded enthusiasts together in aid of Macmillan care Northern Ireland, raising over £13,000.
Organizers were forced to take a sabbatical in 2020, and in 2021 no show was planned. That changed dramatically when those volunteers organising the event decided, with just five weeks’ notice and planning time, to proceed with their annual fund-raising efforts. At Least £17,000 was raised, which was commendable.
Last year’s event, which sadly I could not attend, improved on everything that the show has offered over its lifespan. There was more of everything on display, more car club stands, more trade stands, and more eateries. But most importantly, more money raised. A staggering £23,000 was raised.
As a family who have petrol running through their veins, putting together a show like this is always going to attract good crowds. That said, an event seeing 300+ cars and even more spectators, takes a serious effort which is undertaken by a vast team of volunteers.
Arriving at the show saw an entrance road lined with impeccably turned-out lorries, after which a spectacle of colour grabbed the attention thanks to a display of hot rod racing cars on the DMC Race Promotions stand. Beside this, a selection of 80’s Raleigh Burner BMX’s caused myself and many others of a young vintage to reminisce of your younger years.
Rounding the corner outside the main office and showroom of Turkington’s was royalty of motorsport. Colin Turkington’s Team RAC BMW 3 Series BTCC championship winning car sat beside one of the families autograss Mini’s. Proof that budget motorsport can be a gateway to the top, as Colin has become a four-time BTCC champion. Across from these sat Jimmy McRae’s Metro 6R4 as well as Petter Solberg’s WRC Impreza.
The next display was courtesy of Shelbourne Motors, which featured a few very rare French fancies, including one that I don’t ever recall seeing anywhere on my motoring travels over the last two decades, A Renault Spyder with around 500 miles on the clock. What a funky little car this is.
Bikes and karts catered for, there really was something for everyone on display. One car I recall seeing drag racing at Santa Pod many years ago was a Bond Bug, that particular car was fitted with a fairly sizeable bike engine and took many by surprise. So, it was fantastic to see a very quirky Bond Bug in Portadown, no matter what engine it is equipped with.
Two cars with interesting motorsport pedigree include the M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC, as used by the late Ken Block at the Spanish round of the championship at Catalunya in 2014. Although this car has been used in competition in the province for several years, its new owner sent it to the factory livery team on the mainland just days before the show, to return it into the iconic Hoonigan/Monster colour scheme. Thanks for affording me ten minutes of your night to natter all things rallying, it was brilliant to see the car in its former glory.
I was under orders to, “Make sure and get a photo of that Jag up in the corner.” The Jag in question I managed to capture as it left the show, and only in the days since did I realise just how special this car is. With trip computers inside and battle cars that would tell a tale, it became obvious that this Jaguar C Type was likely to have full-bred pedigree.
The car was there in its ‘as raced’ condition, and some digging reveals that the car had just returned from winning Rally the Globe’s highly-acclaimed Carrera Riviera – an epic 11-day driving adventure through the ever-changing realms of France. Crewed by local father and son team Simon and Jack Brien, this Classic category win was fiercely fought.
This car is regarded as the most competitively campaigned C-type ever and, quite possibly, that of all Jaguars. It has gathered silverware across the UK and Europe in the hands of David Hirsch and Gordon MacKenzie, before retiring into private collections to be used on more relaxed events in the USA and Europe.
Worth an eye-watering amount, credit to the Brien’s for continuing to use this car in anger. It is just amazing to see a car such as this avoiding restoration, instead staying as a car to be enjoyed and celebrated as a motorsport legend.
When chatting with me towards the end of the event, Gary Turkington commented, “Tonight wouldn’t be possible without a lot of support from members of staff, especially Kathryn Irvine who has been the main instigator behind it all.
“We have been able to provide the yard and the facilities, but the event is only a success from the people who comes to support it and they have in their droves, as you have seen tonight. There are too many car clubs to mention nevertheless each have been a great support, but it’s very much down to each and every individual with their pride and joy to come out and support us.”
Gary continued, “We’ve had approximately 500 vehicles here tonight and there has been huge support from many local businesses.”
As a family, the Turkington’s are incredibly known within the motorsport fraternity as Gary explains, “Being known for racing and being petrolheads ourselves will of course help attract people. Dad used to rally and Mum used to navigate for him, Colin and James have both raced saloons for years, while I race karts. It’s in the blood.
“Ultimately, the reason we have done this event is for my Mum. She passed away five years ago and that was the driver of this becoming the BIG Macmillan Motor Show. And I think cancer affects so many people that’s also what helps bring people out as it’s something that will have affected most people here tonight in some way.”
On walking around the show, I managed to photograph the Lord Mayor of Armagh City Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council, Alderman Margaret Tinsley, presenting a cheque to Trevor Turkington, in support of Macmillan. I noted a few former Mayors of the Borough, as well as at least one MP and several MLA’s, highlighting the wide-ranging support that this BIG Macmillan show generates.
To date, this year’s event has raised at least £29,000 (donations are still flooding in) bringing the total raised for Macmillan in excess of £82,000. A monumental effort from all involved. Well done!
Words and Photos: GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY
[Images must not be used in any way without prior written consent of the photographer]