The Malcolm Wilson Rally in a Mk1.. or “A Drive Through A Wood”. (Pt1!)

By Helen Gibbon

It had started out as most things do, as a bit of a joke, or at least that’s what I thought it was. One afternoon back in November, it was suggested that when Rob Graham did his first event in his newly finished Mk1 Escort, that I should navigate for him. I quickly pointed out that even though I had an MSA license, I’d never actually done a rally before. I’d be no use and we’d probably end up in Newcastle with my navigational skills! This was duly noted and promptly ignored.

The next month consisted of Barrie Thomson telling me I should do the rally and stop being a wuss. So I said a very tentative yes. Partly just to stop him going on about it, and partly because I did actually really, really want to do it! I always thought that I’d do my first event sat next to Nigel. So that if I really messed up he’d gently remind me which is my left and right, and tell me not to worry as the wheels can be put back on and those dents can be polished out… I think Nigel was a bit worried about how much it might cost to fix a Mk1 that should have gone right, but the navigator had said left!

January came round and it all went quiet on the rally front, work had gone mad and lots of other stuff was happening, so I half thought it had been forgotten, until Rob came to see about printing off an entry form. I was also told firmly that there was no backing out or there’d be trouble. Rob also told me that we were only “Going for a drive through a wood”. We were going to go and have fun, and see how it felt to be back behind the wheel. There was to be no “do or die” stuff, which after looking at one or two of the fresh air corners, I was very glad to hear!!

February then involved lots of youtube videos during lunch hour. At that stage I wasn’t really all that worried about the navigating bit, it was the timing that was sending me into a cold sweat! I’d never seen a timecard, I didn’t know anything about timing for servicing, or road sections or lateness. 12 cars were as close as I’d ever come, and what worried me most was that I usually ended up OTL on those!

Thankfully Caroline Lodge sent me some info on timing and Jerry Hettrick had passed on some “Dos and Don’ts”. So I started to calm down a bit. It was then time to order some pacenotes!