Thursday, 3 November 2011

North East Classic Motor Sport Events

Many thanks to Sam for the following information:

The first couple of weekends next month are particularly interesting for any enthusiasts of classic motorsport.

The R.A.C. Rally (2nd - 5th December 2011) 
Members ‘of a certain age’ may remember the RAC Rally of the 70’s and 80’s, where something like 250 cars and crews would spend 5 days (and nights!) competing over a course from the south of England into Wales and Scotland and back.  The competition was in the form of perhaps 70 timed special stages in the grounds of stately homes or forests, which were very slippery and even snowy, testing the car control of the drivers to the limit.  Why, you may even have turned out in the forests of Kielder or Hamsterley to watch.

Sadly, the present-day event is a shadow of its former self.  Now styled ‘Wales Rally GB’, it consist of 60 cars taking on a handful of stages in some obscure corner of South Wales, all done in office hours over a weekend.  But wait!  The RAC Rally lives on, in the form of the R.A.C. Rally!

The punctuation in this case is important, as R.A.C. stands for Roger Albert Clark, the full name of one of Britain’s most celebrated rally drivers of the 70’s and 80’s.  Although most of his exploits were behind the wheel of an Escort, Clark also competed in many other cars, including a Metro 6R4 and a Triumph TR7 V8.  The event is based on the style of the earlier rally, starting on a Friday and running over the weekend until Monday, although the crews do get overnight rest halts this time.  And the good news for us is that it’s all based in this region.
The rally starts at Duncome Park, a stately home near Helmsley, on Friday 2 December, and there are some stages there and also in the spectacular Dalby forest.  Restarting at Duncome Park on the Saturday, the event once more visits the Yorkshire forests, near Pickering and Whitby, before moving to Croft circuit for a service halt and a couple of stages, and then the forests of Hamsterley and Shepardshield before overnighting in Carlisle.  Sunday is all in the Scottish forests apart from some spectator stages in a quarry at Heathall, and the sting in the tail is in Kielder on the Monday, with a return to Carlisle for the declaration of results and the winner.  The entry in previous years has not featured many Triumphs and this year is no different, but for anybody who can remember the sight of a full-house Escort being driven sideways at impossible speeds on a narrow forest track, or the sight and sound of the fabulous Lancia Stratos, the R.A.C. Rally is not to be missed.  More information at

UPDATE: Spectator details are here:

The LeJog (10th - 13th December 2011) 

The following weekend sees the running of LeJog, which also passes through the region.  LeJog is a contraction of Lands End-John O’Groats, and I suppose in some ways is similar to Club Triumph’s biennial event, except that this one is competitive, with a mixture of timed tests on private ground, and road sections timed to regularity.  Whilst this might seem a bit tame, it is far from the case.  There is, for instance, in the early hours of Saturday morning, a 3 hour section on the roads of  Mid Wales which has a time control every 4 minutes, as used to be the case on championship road rallies of the 70’s and 80’s – believe me, that’s hard work!  In our area on the Sunday there is a brief halt at Tan Hill, and tests later in the day at Eastgate and at Derwent Reservoir, before an overnight halt at Gosforth Park which is where the cars can be seen close-up.  And what cars!  The entry list starts with a 1937 Riley Special, and goes on to include Morgans, MG’s, Jaguars, Alfa Romeos, Mercedes, Volvos, and Porsches.  Triumph is represented, at the minute, by 5 TR’s and a 2000 saloon.  The website for the event is at

So, a fascinating couple of weekends for motorsports enthusiasts.  Might we see you out there?

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