LIRA' all set for 21st
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birthday on September 8
Nearly 300 drivers wilt compete for the championship at Bramcote in nine days' time
THE CLASS WINNERS from 38 LDoY regional contests held during the summer will be on the road to Bramcote, Warwickshire, next week. There will be a record number of almost 300 finalists at the Commercial Motor Lorry Driver of the Year National Finals, the 21st in the history of the competition.
The top awards will also set new records. The Ford Motor Company award for the champion is doubled to £100 and the Vauxhall Motors' awards to the second and third man overall are also doubled. Commercial Motor is for the first time presenting cheques to the entrants of the top three drivers.
Two new trophies will go to the fourth place driver overall and to the best driver from any centre across the open sea.
The day's events
First competitors report to Hawker Siddeley Aviation's Bitteswell aerodrome at 7.30 am for the written "exam" and start on the road route. The first man into Bramcote is expected at 8.45 for the manoeuvring tests, which will then continue on four lanes until 12.30.
Class results will be posted as soon as possible after all competitors have finished and the class prize-giving is due to take place after the lunch break, at 2pm. The final championship is timed to start at 2.30 pm and last 90 minutes. Class winners will compete in a threepart contest consisting of vehicle roadworthiness, road signs and markings and a gruelling five-section manoeuvring test on vehicles lent to the organizers by British Leyland Motor Corporation.
The final prize-giving is timed for 4.30pm. Sir Daniel Pettit, the president of LDoY, and Mr Jack Jones, of the Transport and General Workers' Union, will share this ceremony.
Five champions back
Alistair Howitt, of Shell-Mex and BP Scotland, qualified for the Finals in class D this year along with four former LDoYs: Joe Dakin (1963) of Express Dairy Foods in Class B; Chris O'Reilly (1969) of Petrofina in Class H; Norman Singer (1971) of Shell-Mex and BP Scotland in Class H; and Lloyd Richards (1972) of Heavy Transport (ECC) in Class C.
Three other 1973 Class champions will also be at Bramcote, including Mrs Ann Adkin, who took Class A at Leeds with a penalty score of 81, the second lowest in any 1974 contest. It was also pleasing to have two Finals entry forms signed by Sam Gray (1968 LDoY) of the Moore School of Motoring in Larne.
For the public
Before and after supporting their favourite through the tests, spectators have 12 competitions that they can enter. Apart from the fun of entering, these competitions give the general public a unique opportunity to get to know the amount of sheer professionalism needed to drive a lorry well. Children can drive a full course on a scale model electric artic and then ride on a 1912 London omnibus before entering the six trials of skill and strength brought by Nuneaton Round. Table.
There will be a large public refreshment tent, two bar tents and hot dog and ice-cream kiosks.
The public will have a chance to see things to come during the lunch break when Ailsa Trucks mount a demonstration in the test area of a doublebottom road train alongside a drawbar outfit. And after the final championship, there will be a friendly competition between Wilbur Moore, reigning American Lorry Driver of the Year, and Alistair Howitt, the present British LDoY.
LDoirs 21st year
Back in 1952, the Coventry Road Accident Prevention Council mounted its first "Commercial Vehicle Rally" which was so successful that the following year entries came from as far as Tonypandy and two consecutive Sundays were needed for the event. In 1954 the national Lorry Driver of the Year Competition was born, as other centres ran regional contests and victors later competed at the Standard Motor works for the new title. In the 20 years since then the competition has grown to 40 centres and a major National Finals in September.
In 1965 there were 18 active centres when CM took over the competition's organization from Coventry Council and added a firm promise of sponsorship. CM is the first to admit that the growth to 40 centres in nine years would have been impossible without the help of hundreds of firms and thousands of individuals, the latter giving days and sometimes weeks of their leisure to promote safer roads through the competition.
In his message to this year's Finals, Mr •Fred Mulley, the Minister for Transport, says: "The Lorry Driver of the Year Association deserves our thanks and congratulations for its work. Over the 21 years of the competition, many thousands of lorry drivers have been encouraged to improve their driving skills and so make an important contribution to road safety."