“Rallying used to be a main­stay of ra­dio”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

So there I was lis­ten­ing, as you do, to a record­ing of Kenny Everett’s last show on Ra­dio 1 from Sun­day, June 9, 1968. It was his last show as, once again, he’d been sacked by the BBC.

The mu­sic was fab and he had a lot of his mates on to say “Chee­rio”. Th­ese in­cluded the Bea­tles, al­though John Len­non sounded a lit­tle out of touch with things. As Kenny said: “If that’s what go­ing to In­dia does to you, I’ll stick with Skeg­ness.”

Half an hour in, the news came on. For younger read­ers – and for older ones with bad mem­o­ries – the news on Ra­dio 1 was al­ways on the half hour, while over at Ra­dio 2 it was on the hour. Any­way, there were three items on the bul­letin that morn­ing. The first was a re­port of Robert Kennedy’s fu­neral, the US sen­a­tor hav­ing been as­sas­si­nated while cam­paign­ing in the Cal­i­for­nia pri­maries ear­lier in the week. The se­cond story was about lead­ing world bankers meet­ing in Zurich to dis­cuss the cri­sis with the Gold Stan­dard. And I’ll quote the third and fi­nal item in full:

“One hun­dred and one cars have set off from Glas­gow at the start of the Scot­tish In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Rally. It lasts five days and cov­ers 1900 miles. The first car to be flagged off by the Lord Provost of Glas­gow was driven by 28-year-old Roger Clark of Hinck­ley in Le­ices­ter­shire, who has won the rally three times. And now the weather ….”

Crickey! How times have changed. To­day it’s dif­fi­cult to find the fi­nal re­sults of even the Rally GB on any ra­dio sports news, here sim­ply the start of a rally was re­ported on the main news where there were just three sto­ries. There wasn’t even a fa­tal­ity, which seems to be the only time the sport makes the main bul­letins th­ese days.

Granted in 1968 the fourth com­mand­ment – Re­mem­ber the Sab­bath day, to keep it holy – still held sway so there was very lit­tle pro­fes­sional sport tak­ing place on Sun­days to fight for space on the news. There was no pro­fes­sional cricket, no horse rac­ing, nor any over­paid prima don­nas pranc­ing around a foot­ball field and fall­ing over in agony if some­one so much as breathed within 10 yards of them. How­ever, it still shows how far rallying has fallen out of view to most peo­ple, both in­side and out­side the me­dia.

Did the na­tional news two Sun­days ago have a run­ning sched­ule of: Pres­i­dent Obama in the UK; Earth­quake in Ecuador; El­fyn Evans of Dol­gel­lau led 57 cars away at the start of the Pirelli Carlisle Rally and now the weather? No it didn’t.

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