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  1. #1
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    RAC Rally memories Its that time of year!

    A bit like those occasional dreams you get that you have an exam due and you haven’t studied, have been getting that nagging feeling that it’s that time of year when I should start planning for what up until the late 90’s was a proper round of the WRC in the UK and not just one confined to the Welsh principality. So on that note what are your memories of what was "our" round the RAC, traditionally the last event of the season and the one which everyone, whatever nationality seemed to want to do?

    For me who never got to compete on “the Lombard” it usually involved a good couple of weeks planning to spectate/marshal after receiving the Rally Sport event guide or Rallypack, although on at least one occasion the pack arrived the week after the rally! The MC I was a member at the time of, had already been advised of which stage/s they would be looking after so that was factored in first with everything else fitted around that to include for contingencies if there was a stage cancelled, or most likely too much traffic to make it to one location and having to cut to the next, which over the course of a 4/5 day event wasn’t a quick task to complete.

    Car hire had been secured a good few weeks prior and optimum capacity was 3 people per vehicle to allow for enough “living” space and for cost effectiveness, didn’t even think about overnight accommodation in those days as night stages and late finishes/early starts didn’t seem to make it worthwhile anyway if you could find it at all with some many people competing or following the event. Then it was a case of buying supplies, fresh stuff like the bacon was purchased last minute or enroute, and the other essentials such as toilet rolls and the camping gas, should really have thought more about air fresheners but always seemed to forget that after 4 days of housing 3 blokes an Astra wasn’t the most pleasant environment to spend time in! Looking back little or no consideration was made to keeping hydrated other than the beer supply..

    A Sunday stage was usually visited as a standalone, this was pre the days of event passes so it was then a case of getting back home and either finishing packing up the car to set off that evening or after a couple of hours of fretful sleep hitting the road early on Monday with everyone on board.

    No two RAC’s were the same, some have better memories than others. Day 3 was normally when people started to fall out, these were proper events that tested non competitors as much as the crews and taught you about life as well as watching great action on the stages. Met some great people from all over the world out in the woods all sharing a love of the sport and with little or no mention of politics or countries they were from. Saw some of the worst of humanity at play with cars been broken into or stolen but also the best with people helping each other out of tricky situations such as offs or breakdowns.

    I know the Albert has tried to rekindle some of those memories and emotions as best it can in these less than free and easy times however maybe it’s the rose tinted specs of my younger years that longs for some of what went before as unrealistic as that is.

    Hopefully the UK will see a round of the premier championship in the not too distant future however until then I’ll just try and remember the “good old days”.

  2. Likes: AndyRAC (14th November 2022),satnav (14th November 2022),the sniper (15th November 2022)
  3. #2
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    Yeah, the third weekend of November is when it traditionally started; and would often see the first real winter weather.

    I don't think it helped when they started messing around with the date; September in 2004/05/12, then we had late November/early December in 2006/07/08 (which I actually didn't mind). We also had different times in October - however, this coming weekend is the best time for it.

    I can recall the excitement when the route was announced many months earlier; what were the Sunday 'spectator' stages, was Kielder in the day or night, would there be a visit to Scotland, what day would they visit Wales, what about Grizedale, etc Then closer to the event, ordering my programme, with map book, and mileage reckoner - plus a pen, and a few stickers.

    And the mainstream press would join in; whether it was the car magazines, motorsport mags or the national newspapers......It was usually the last major motorsport event of the season, so attracted quite a lot of the F1 writers. And not forgetting the Top Gear Rally Report, plus the hourly updates on Radio 2/5 Live......

    There was something special about driving into a stage late at night ready for the next day, getting out of the car, and that 'pine forest smell' while it was pitch black....And waking up early, and all you could smell was bacon being fried on Camping Gaz stoves (no Jetboils back then).

    It's hard to imagine now, but it was a huge event, and you felt part of it; I can recall back in '94 coming home, and there were crowds of fans on the roundabouts on the A483 from Oswestry to Chester......

    If you had told me then that we'd have no event in the future, I'd have thought you were completely bonkers.......How on earth do you manage to lose an historic event like that?

    Until somebody, or a company, regional/ tourist board thinks it's worth it, I think we may be waiting a while for the return.

    Is there a better sound than that of Porsche engined Flat-6 ???

  4. Likes: Sal yet again (15th November 2022),satnav (15th November 2022),the sniper (15th November 2022)
  5. #3
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    Never been a football fan so never really felt the need to be "part of something" however its the closest I've come to that when was following the rally, apart from when was driving around the countryside looking a for a field with massive sound system in it back in the 90's!!

    It was of its time and we are a different island now with more constraints on land and more people on the roads than ever before so a leviathan that the RAC was would never really fit back into our psyche. You are right though regards the media who used to feature it massively. Can remember Nationwide following Pondy in the Sunbeam, TV AM part sponsoring Brookes in the Manta and local crews doing the event got a slot on Look North and Calendar.

    Oh how times have changed..

  6. Likes: AndyRAC (15th November 2022),the sniper (15th November 2022)
  7. #4
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    I keep seeing people on social media moaning about the Welsh no longer sponsoring the event; they're not the people to blame. And they've just signed a 4 year deal to host the Tour of Britain cycle race....That gives them better value for money, and more eyes watching.......

    Is there a better sound than that of Porsche engined Flat-6 ???

  8. #5
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    Forgot one of the other things about those simpler times which on occasion made it hard to follow the event but the lack of mobile phones and access to instant results/splits in some ways made it more exciting to find out the leader board/news either by phoning the BT Rally Line or occasionally being at a popular enough spot where the spectator control car would stop to relay updates over the loud speaker. We also had the Patterson notes during the Rothmans days or tried to get to one of the rest halts to see if we could get updates there. Some how seemed to add to proceedings rather than detract from them.

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    I thought it was ironic in these hi tech days, I quite often couldn't get a signal in the forests, so had no idea what was happening - whereas back in the day, BBC Radio 2/5 Live would have updates every hour; so one knew what was happening.

    Is there a better sound than that of Porsche engined Flat-6 ???

  10. #7
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    Having been born in ‘88 my memories are of the BBC Rally Report throughout the ‘90s with William Woollard and then Steve Lee. I didn’t have any appreciation that it started on a Sunday and ran through the week - it was just it was November therefore the RAC was on and each evening you’d see Tony Mason interviewing rally drivers in some Northern England/Southern Scotland town. As a Londoner that also seem slightly exotic to me - everywhere in RAC-land was like something straight out of a Hovis advert to me

    Frosty mornings, group A rally cars (and not just the A8 cars), muddy forests in the Lake District, mid-Wales, North Yorkshire and Scottish Borders & men like Juha Kankkunen, Carlos Sainz, Tony Mason, Barrie Gill and Alan Douglas are what I think of when I think of the RAC

    And latterly that became Rally of Great Britain, Mark James, Richard Burns, Tommi Mäkinen, Colin McRae and still Carlos Sainz

  11. Likes: AndyRAC (15th November 2022)
  12. #8
    Senior Member Fast Eddie WRC's Avatar
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    The first RAC Rally I attended in 1983... at Knowsley Safari Park which was not a Mickey Mouse stage for one superstar !

    And coverage as it used to be...
    https://youtu.be/hBsD9y4pcas

  13. #9
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    Ah yes the 3 wheel Quattro.. At least he had a better experience in there than Pondy a year later!

  14. #10
    Senior Member Fast Eddie WRC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sal yet again View Post
    Ah yes the 3 wheel Quattro.. At least he had a better experience in there than Pondy a year later!
    Yeah... I was there too !

    Those Sunday MM stages were quite a challenge on many occasions and were such a great way to introduce rallying to the general public and especially city-dwellers.

    The first live TV coverage were from them too, well before the days of WRC+, and were so great to watch with loads of OB cameras around them. This was one of my favourites from 1986 and last season the Group B cars:

    https://youtu.be/imEDcE1du4Y

  15. Likes: AndyRAC (21st November 2022)

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