Who are the sporting bears?
They've raised more than £1,500,000 for charity just by driving their cars, so who are they?
The Sporting Bears is a car club with a difference; they are dedicated to fundraising for good causes. The club has so far raised over £1.5 million for children's charities around the country. What's more every penny raised goes directly to the charity; the clubs overheads are covered by a small annual subscription paid by members.
So how does it work? The club is primarily intended for owners of classic, sports and supercars, although anyone is welcome to join and help out at events even if you don't own a car. Visitors to the Supercar Event, Classic and Sportscar Show, Carfest etc will probably have seen the 'Dream Rides' stand. Dream Rides are a club favourite and where most of the funds are raised. Members of the public can make a donation to the chosen charity in exchange for a passenger ride in club members cars. Unlike the track rides offered at the Supercar Event, these take place on the public roads at legal speeds and so can be offered at even small car shows.
Huw Page, southern England regional organiser for the Sporting Bears.
The club was originally formed by Chris and Pat Glasbey way back in 1989 and was based in the Midlands, however it's popularity spread and there are now six regional groups. In addition to the Midlands there are regional organisers for, Northamptonshire and surounding counties (Shire Bears), The North West, Southern England (Koalas), South West England (Surfing Bears) and the North of England & Scotland (Polar Bears). Huw's a koala, you can tell can't you? He has a certain koala look about him.
Each of these groups organises it's own events in their local area, from the popular 'Dream Rides' and static displays at car shows to social evenings and driving tours.
Sporting Bears 'Dream Rides' at the Supercar Event. Photo: Katja Fenner
The 'Dream Rides' concept began at the NEC Classic Car show in 1994. Rather than viewing cars in a static display it gave visitors the thrill of experiencing their dream car on the open road. The chosen charity is different for each event the Bears attend and typically a local Children's Charity. At the Supercar Event, pictured, all proceeds went to the Children's Trust, that's every penny donated. Drivers volunteer their time and pay their own fuel bills but hey, we all love driving and showing off our cars don't we? So why not raise money for a good cause while we do it!
Supercars are always popular Dream Rides. Photo: Katja Fenner
While supercars are always in demand for dream rides, it really is anything goes. People are as many and varied as our cars and what appeals to one person will be completely different to the next. I've recently joined the Sporting Bears myself after surprise requests for rides in my old VW Beetle, not just from the general public either, from Supercar Event host Craig Phillips and from the South West Bears organiser's son, James Firth. So if you'd like a ride in 'Pedro' look out for him at future Sporting Bears Dream Rides events. Alternatively book a ride in a Lamborghini Miura, Jaguar XJ13, Ford GTD40, Lamborghini Gallardo or Jaguar XJ220, also owned by Sporting Bears members and regulars at the NEC and Car Fest.
A new addition to the 'Dream Rides' volunteers. My very own, 'Pedro the Baja Bug', the globe-trotting VW Beetle, seen here in Iran. He's old, he's slow, but he's sub-zero on the cool wall!
You can find a full event's list and details of how to join on the Sporting Bears website. sportingbears.co.uk/index.php/view/cat/6/events-diary