Legendary rally moves up to another level with the welcome return of RAC support
The legendary RAC Rally: it’s back!
The famous RaC Rally is back, in the form of an historic event that unites the RAC and the Royal Automobile Club with HERO’s established Rally of the Tests, to recreate the glory days of one of the world’s most important rallies. The new event is set to take place in the UK on 3-6 November 2016.
The original RAC Rally ran from 1932 until 1939, returning after the war in 1951 as The RAC Rally of the Tests, attracting huge crowds and top-level teams. In 1960 the organisers included a three-mile forest stage for the first time, and it proved such a success that from 1961 the event became the RAC Rally of the Forests, establishing the template for UK stage rallying for decades to come. That 1961 event was won by Erik Carlsson in a Saab 96, navigated by John Brown, who later founded HERO.
From 1970 the event went through several name changes, including the Daily Mirror RAC, the Lombard RAC and the Network Q RAC, before the RAC ceased its relationship with the event after 1997, the year in which Colin McRae famously took his third win. It now exists as the Wales Rally of Great Britain.
The Rally of the Tests name was revived in 2000 by historic rally pioneer Philip Young. It’s been an annual event ever since, but the new tie-in with the RAC motoring organisation and the Royal Automobile Club moves it on another step.
‘We’re delighted to get involved again and to recognise our heritage,’ explained John Oggis, head of marketing at the RAC. ‘We’ve made a long-term commitment to this, and we want to bring it to a new generation. We’ve signed up for three years but we expect it to go much further.’
Furthermore, Ben Cussons of the Royal Automobile Club (a separate entity from the RAC, although historically linked) said: ‘The RAC Rally was one of those itches that we always wanted to scratch. It was one of the world’s top three events, up there with the Mille Miglia and the Monte Carlo.’
The new RAC Rally of the Tests will start in Bournemouth, a nod to early RAC Rally locations, heading to Bristol via special stages and night-time sections on the first day. On day two, competitors will leave the RAC building in Bristol and head north to Stoke-on-Trent, via the infamous Swynnerton Ministry of Defence stages, and on day three the event will head to the finish at Chester – another nod to previous RACs.
Ever since its revival in 2000, the Rally of the Tests has been aimed at pre-1962 cars, but some pre-81 cars will be allowed into the 2016 event, without being eligible for the overall prize. Entries are now open, starting at £2646 for a two-person crew. More details on www.heroevents.eu.