LOCAL FAN IS FACE OF STRATFORD FESTIVAL OF MOTORING

A long-running supporter of the Stratford Festival of Motoring is set to be the face of this year’s event - despite not being able to make it to the festival for the first time since it started.

Festival fan Graham Smith, from Stratford, won the ‘dress the age of your car’s manufacture’ competition with his unique 1954 MG TF ‘Twin Cam’.

The seventh Stratford Festival of Motoring takes place on Sunday, May 5th and Bank Holiday Monday, May 6th, bringing thousands of petrolheads to the town for a showcase of vehicles past and present.

Motoring enthusiasts can take part in tours through Stratford’s surrounding countryside before completing a lap of honour in the town then parking up to show off their pride and joy.

The festival sees more than 300 vehicles lined up on Stratford’s streets, along with interactive demonstrations, food, drink and live music and entertainment to suit visitors of all ages.

Festival organiser Stratforward BID this year held a contest to find the face of the 2019 event, asking people to send in pictures of their car with them dressed in the appropriate fashion for the year of its manufacture.

Graham, 71, who has attended the festival each year, submitted pictures of his pride and joy, an MG TF ‘Twin Cam’ built in Abingdon on March 30, 1954, which he has owned since 2012, complete with him dressed appropriately.

One of around 10,000 of its type produced between 1953 and 1955, the MG TF was a stop-gap model based on the previous ‘square rigger’ TD.

Considered by many to be the prettiest of the MG ‘T’ series, it spent just two years in production before it was superseded by the MGA.

Graham’s TF, which is possibly unique and has been dubbed ‘MG TG’ by fellow enthusiasts, was ‘period’ updated in the 1970s with the fitting of an MGA 1600 Twin Cam engine and MGB running gear.

Graham said: “We’ve been to the festival every year and I’m a big fan of it, so thought it would be a bit of fun to enter and I’m thrilled to have won. I actually can’t attend the festival this year, so it’s nice to know we’ll be there in some form, as the ‘face’ of the festival.

“The festival is a great event, the whole mixture of vehicles across all ages, it’s a really exciting event that makes Stratford tingle. Everybody walks around and mingles, looking at the cars and chatting about their history.”

Graham has been a classic car enthusiast for years, owning sports cars at university and before his children were born.

“We didn’t have anything quite as fun after the children came, but now I’ve gone back to whizzy cars,” he added. “This is the second MG I’ve owned - the first I had from 2003 to 2013 and I got this one in 2012. I’m delighted to be able to show it off and look forward to seeing the festival posters.”

Ruth Wood, Events Manager at Stratforward BID, which represents around 420 businesses in Stratford Town Centre, said: “A huge congratulations to Graham for winning the competition. It’s wonderful to have such a longstanding supporter of the event as the face of the festival. It’s a shame Graham can’t attend this year, but his prize of a free entry pass to the festival will be deferred to next year and we look forward to seeing him then.

“The Stratford Festival of Motoring is always incredibly popular and it’s a great way of bringing in people to the town centre. Visitors range from car enthusiasts to families on a day out or people looking for something fun to do on Bank Holiday Monday. They may come for the festival but we know that plenty of people take advantage of being in Stratford to pop in to many of the businesses, whether to shop, check out their motor festival-related activities, offers or displays, or have something to eat or drink.”