What Has Happened To Rallying?

By George Rutherford

45 years ago, while an active rally driver I was involved in the setting up of the Galloway Hills Rally which ran on the first weekend of December as an end of season fun event where drivers could bring Sponsors, mechanics and wives as a thank you for their contribution to another season. Unlike most Scottish events we had the party the night before the event, as running on a Sunday ferries were very limited for the many Irish crews getting back in time for work on Monday. Other Scottish events had their prize giving/party at the end of the event and virtually all competitors attended. normally having changed into more suitable attire. Continue reading

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Goodwood Festival Of Speed 2018

By John Ross

Sorry I am a bit late in tapping away at the keyboard, but there was a little thing called the Blue Streak Targa Rally got in the way.

WOW, WOW, WOW. I think that would just about sum up the weekend, but no doubt some of you would like to know a little more.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a petrolhead’s dream, every supercar ever thought of, plus a few more; from the world launch of Maserati’s new Chelsea tractor, to the craziest vehicle I have ever seen, the Aston Martin Cygnet, but this was no ordinary Cygnet which is normally a Toyota IQ with a posh interior and a bit of body styling. This one had been sprinkled with crazy dust in that they had shoe-horned the AM 4.7Ltr V8 into it. This was a one off for a customer (presumably from the Middle East). Perfectly road legal but god knows how it would handle with all that power. Presumably the boys from AM had that sorted. It sounded fantastic as the mechanics revved it to the max making the whole paddock area reverberate.

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Garage Woes – The White Heather Targa

By David Garstang

So what’s been happening in the garage you may be asking? Has the fiesta lost any weight? Is the car any shinier? Was the underside painted? Did it get serviced and the gear box oil checked? Was the puncture fixed? What progress on the Spitfire.

All good questions which I started to think about the week end before the White Heather Tests, so it was a case of prioritising the things to do. The weight loss programme has been put on hold as I think a layer of fat around me will keep me safe during the Beast from the East, should I  get stranded in a snow drift I will last better than a skinny person. Due to the cold it’s been too cold to paint the underside of the car I will perhaps now put this off until spring. I did manage to get the engine serviced and adjust the rear brakes, however the cold had affected the oil in the can that I was going to use as I was pouring it out it was coming out in globs of jelly like substance. I decided not to put it in the car until I had put the can of oil on the radiator in the house to warm through and become like normal oil again. I tried to disguise it with a tea towel but I was soon found out when the aroma of hot engine oil started to waft out of the kitchen. I then quickly put it in the engine and topped up the gearbox. So car serviced time to sort out the tyre which I dropped off at my local garage who kindly repaired it for me. So the Fiesta was now ready for the first event of the season only 7 days to wait and see if the snow will melt so that I could get the car out of hibernation and give it a test drive.No such luck due to the snow and work so it was a case of load it on to the trailer on Friday night the evening before the event start on Saturday and hope for the best. Continue reading

Garage Woes

By David Garstang

Well it’s getting to the time of year when the rally season starts for me, so I had better get my finger out and start going through the little fiesta in preparation for the first event in March, the White Heather run by Wigton Motor Club.

So during the winter months since the last event I have been mulling over how to make the car go faster and what jobs need doing before the first event of 2018. I have been looking at the power to weight ration of the Fiesta and looking to see where I can lose a few kilograms of weight from the car. I have found a source of carbon fibre bonnets, Perspex windows, fiberglass front wings and then generally stripping as much surplus weight and unnecessary gear out of the car. I then started to tot up the bill for all the light weight parts and stupidly left the sizeable estimate out on my desk. Where, the good lady of the house found it, and pointed out that she could make the car far lighter than what I was considering, and actually save me money. Mystified how SHE knew better than me I asked her to prove it. “Simple” she said “I will put you on a diet, I can get a good few stones of weight out of the car by making you lose weight, this will also mean we spend less money on food, therefore saving money every week”. Continue reading

The E-by-gum type Experience

By Richard Thomson

Last November I was given an E-Type Experience at Knockhill as a birthday present. I should explain that my only previous experience of a Jaguar E-Type was also at Knockhill, but that time as a passenger in an ex-Ecurie Ecosse lightweight version. Winter is not the best time to be driving at Knockhill, so I decided to wait until spring and the better weather.

Come that day I had booked, and the weather didn’t look good at all. It was very, very wet on the M74, and conditions only started to improve as I approached Edinburgh. Sadly the traffic didn’t, and I was lucky to arrive at Knockhill on time. There were 3 of us taking part in the experience, and I don’t think the others would be too unhappy if I was to say that I was comfortably the youngest! It was decided that I would go first, which had the advantage that I had the track mostly to myself. Out first for 4 laps in a Honda Civic Type-R to get used to the damp circuit, and with strict instructions to keep off the painted kerbs, apart from at the chicane. I had been looking forward to the Honda, but it was a bit of a disappointment. It had loads of grip through the corners, and I think it was quite quick on the straights, although it didn’t feel so. I remember driving a Golf GTi around a damp Mallory Park about 20 years ago, which was much more entertaining! The Honda felt like it would let you do anything, until it ran out of grip and you had a big accident! Continue reading

Pirelli International 2017 Exclusive – Behind the scenes view.

By Barry Lindsay

Rallying is a lot more than a driver and navigator in a car going as fast as they can, anyone who wants to get involved in the running of an event is part of a big team of officials. Here’s an insight to only my small part of a big event.

Pirelli meetings start about September 7 to 8 months before when all it is,  is a blank note pad and a copy of Kielder map with a red line on it. Following the 2016 debrief it was obvious more chicanes were needed. So    I was to organize another 42 large bales wrapped and stored for winter. Along with another role I was appointed that first night; the role of Chief Marshal.

By December’s cold icy days, a route and format were decided and I went on a route survey choosing points we could have chicanes  where  a  marshal could man them and have a car parked at or near. The conclusion after this was we are going to need a lot more bales. Continue reading

Thoughts On Wales

By Phil Jobson

Having fallen in love with Wales through rallying, I’m gutted to now read that Natural Resources Wales (NRW) plan to recover the whole cost of forest road restoration from MSA and therefore largely from competitors. The impact of unsustainable forestry charges will, of course, spell the end of forest rallying in Wales. Not only is the passion for the sport in Wales extensive, but rallying provides remote rural communities with huge investment from competitors, support crews and spectators. The levels of such revenue would not be available from other activities.

It would seem utterly logical, and make economic sense to me, for the MSA and Welsh Government to subsidise any gap in forest road restoration. From their figures, this would amount to just over £300,000, a pittance in comparison to the many millions forest rallying attracts to these rural areas. But why should there be such a massive cost in forest road restoration in the first place? What came of the discussions a number of years ago of redesigning tyres to cause less damage to forest roads? Continue reading

“Sorry George.”

By David Love

Health and Safety policies now affect all aspects of our lives and are very contentious. What makes perfect sense to one person can seem senseless to another. Rallying is receiving a lot of Health and Safety attention at the moment; some would say an excess of attention. Not all policies being implemented are interpreted the same, instructions given on the Scottish Rally stated that no spectators were allowed to enter the stage through the Start or Finish at all. Yet on a previous rally the MSA Safety Delegate said no one to enter after he had passed. The Delegate’s comment made sense to me as within 10 minutes of his passing the first fast car should be on the stage but stopping a seasoned enthusiast 30 minutes before cars are due is overkill. I know we are in a transitional period but the MSA should be producing a clear and concise guide for organisers so that there is a constant standard for all rallies and enthusiasts will not be confused by different rules at each rally.

One new safety regulation is quite clear and that is the mandatory use of F.I.A. approved Frontal Head Restraints from 1st January 2016. I know a lot of competitors will not be happy about this ruling, mainly due to the extra cost, but it is a proven device that can help avoid serious injury. In America, NASCAR made HANS devices compulsory after the death of 7 times Champion Dale Earnhardt when, after extensive investigation, it was concluded that wearing it could have prevented the brain damage that killed him. He had refused to wear a HANS device. Which brings me to George’s comment in the Chairman’s Thoughts in last month’s newsletter. He considers that it should be left to the competitor to decide whether to use them or not, this is when I have to say sorry George I disagree. Most competitors compete to win, whether it is for overall, class or just personal victory, to do that they feel that they need the fastest, best handling car their money can buy. An FRH will not make the car go faster or make them a better driver and as they don’t intend to crash, it is very low on the list of priorities. That’s very understandable as it is very expensive to compete but a brain injury carries a high cost also, not in monetary terms but the emotional cost suffered by their loved ones and family.

I say to competitors, is it not worth a few hundred pounds to safeguard your future and your family’s emotional security?

“The Death of Forest Rallying!”

By David Love

Maybe I’m being a little melodramatic or alarmist as it hasn’t happened yet but the death of forest rallying might be closer than we think. We have to accept that rallying, as we have known it, is now dead. Due to the deaths on last years Jim Clark big changes are coming our way and we have to accept them. You only have to read the open letter that Rob Jones, Chief Executive of the MSA published after the Wyedean to realise the future of forest stage rallying is in the balance.

At our recent Awards Night, guest speaker, Mike Faulkner expressed his concern over how rallying would change with the safety initiatives that are starting to be implemented by the MSA. As we all know the Scottish Government have investigated and reviewed rally safety, they have made recommendations, some of which have already been implemented on Scottish rallies and they will soon be coming to the rest of the country. The MSA is also coming under Health and Safety pressure from the Forestry Commission who themselves are reviewing and implementing improvements in the safety of their own industry. Rallying is probably safer now than 20 years ago but with the explosion in social media even the smallest misdemeanour is broadcast to thousands of people and is sometimes blown out of proportion. Society has changed with the advent of Ambulance Chasers, sorry, Accident Claims Lawyers so that common sense and taking responsibility for your own actions have flown out of the window. You and I know it’s going to hurt if we stick our hand into a roaring coal fire but there is a section of society that would do it and then sue the owner because there wasn’t a fireguard. Therefore rallying must also change! Continue reading

Ramblings….

By David Love

Well, I’m back to ramble on a bit more and it’s all Helen’s fault! When I told her at the club night that I was hoping to write some rubbish for the newsletter she actually looked pleased, that’s when I realised how desperate she was for something to put in the newsletter.

I never realised that the MSA was in the furniture removal business until they pulled the rug from under the feet of the BRC organisers by cancelling the championship for 2015. It would appear that very little thought was given to the consequences of cancelling it. It is not just undermining the hard work nurturing sponsors and supporters put in by all the organisers over the years but it also has a big impact on the host towns. Even though the BRC was ailing the financial boost it generated for local businesses was still substantial and much needed in the present economic climate, therefore it is not just the sport that suffers the local community is also affected. There is also the worry that the championship will not return and if it does will it be greeted with apathy. The MSA may only have one chance to get it right and on past performance I’m not holding my breath.

What about The Pirelli I hear you ask, well one of you must be asking that! The rally has existed in one form or another since 1975 and has even weathered 2 cancellations due to foot and mouth. Do you think the MSA could finish it off? Not if Brian Kinghorn has anything to do with it! For those of you that don’t know Brian is the Chairman of the organising committee and the main contact for sponsors and suppliers to the rally. He’s been involved in the rally for more years than he would no doubt care to remember and is determined not to go down without a fight. He told me that his first reaction on hearing of the championships cancellation was that “We’d had a good run and maybe it was time to call it a day” then he got angry and decided that it wasn’t up to the MSA to decide when our rally was finished. He’s been working hard behind the scenes and hopefully will soon be able to confirm details of the 2015 Pirelli Rally. In the meantime enjoy a photo of Malcolm Wilson, winner of the 1980 event at Carlisle Airport .

Malcolm Wilson BW

Malcolm Wilson – Escort Mk2

Reading David Coleman’s article in last month’s newsletter brought back more memories of the good old days that had been lost in the mists of time. I can still picture him in the rear view mirror of the Audi sliding from side to side. That’s what happens when you have leather seats and no seat belts. It’s good to know that I was instrumental in introducing him to hobby that has given him so much pleasure. Motorsport depends on long time enthusiasts like David to keep the sport alive, people who are in it for enjoyment rather than for out and out glory. They may put a lot of money into it but more importantly they put their heart into it. Of course coming to Spadeadam Motor Club meant he was off to the best possible start.

Continue reading