The (still) open road of historic rallying

Historic rallying is growing in popularity and the cancellations of last year have only fuelled a determination to clock up the miles. Robert Ladbrook speaks to Rally the Globe about its plans

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Remember when you were a teenager and took that first road trip with your mates? Your first car, freedom calling and that incredible sense of adventure that lay ahead. It’s a memory most of us car-loving folk won’t ever forget. So imagine how vivid that memory could become if you threw in a circuit race along the way, or an autotest or two? How about a backdrop of the Himalayas or Italian Alps to boot? That’s essentially historic road rallying in a nutshell. One mammoth adventure, with mates, with a bit of everything sprinkled on top to help make it extra special.

Now, before the world went a bit nuts, and so long as your bank manager was agreeable, it was possible to travel the globe and get involved in some mighty rallies, such as from Peking to Paris, across Africa and eventually fully around the world.

Obviously those are off the table during these times of such restricted travel, but that hasn’t stopped leading vintage and classic car rally organiser Rally the Globe from coming up with new and innovative ways to run events closer to home for the time being.

“Covid had a huge impact on our operations and event planning, and we had to make some big decisions and make them early as things like this demanded a proactive approach instead of a reactive one,” says Rally the Globe chairman Graham Goodwin. “We cancelled all of our major 2020 events – including the Around the World Rally – and provided 100% refunds for anybody who requested one. We then decided to re-focus our activities in the UK and Europe for this year instead, purely because we know we will be able to deliver them safely and efficiently. Plus there’s now no event insurance to cover for Covid, so we have to be quite cautious about knowing what we could potentially have issues with.”


A late summer drive on HERO-ERA’s Scottish Malts will take in a few distilleries along its route

The result is a new-look schedule, with Cloverleaf events run from a single base in both Yorkshire and Scotland and a new Generations rally where crews must consist of entries from two different generations, the overall plan being to try and draw younger people into this arm of the sport over the long term by having parents share with sons or daughters, etc.

In October, when Europe is hoped to be over the worst of the pandemic, rallying re-starts back in Italy with the racinginfluenced Carrera Italia road event, before a similar event will run in Spain next April, all building towards a return to the true longdistance endurance events such as the Ypres to Istanbul and Road to Hanoi.

“Our events are geared quite heavily towards couples or families”

Rally the Globe was established as a not-for-profit club, aiming to put on the best and most challenging events of their type around the world. But thanks to some careful planning, running shorter events domestically should have the same appeal as their international counterparts.

“We’re all competitors and enthusiasts ourselves, and between us we’ve done hundreds of rallies and we know what makes a good event and what doesn’t,” adds Goodwin. “We wanted to get back to the traditional form of rallying, which was about enjoyment not commercial gain. We have a range of events and like to mix things up.

“I think this branch of the sport is popular because it’s more about adventure and a mixture of different skills. Things like stage rallying or circuit racing are more hardcore, and about a specific set of skills, whereas our events call for many different skills, such as speed, endurance, navigation, engineering and more. That also helps to equalise the field as somebody in a Porsche 911 will always out-gun somebody in a Mini during a speed event, but throw in a regularity section where it’s about navigation and consistency and it’s a different story.

“Our events are geared quite heavily towards couples or families, and we get a lot of both. This is basically a big adventure with some motor sport thrown into it. It’s of a gentler nature than racing or stage rallying, and people appreciate that as they get to share it with a loved one.”


Bobble hats hopefully not required at Holmfirth’s Yorkshire Motorsport Festival

So, on to those new UK events. The Cloverleaf has a smaller number of crews sharing a single central location – such as a privately booked hotel or country estate – and heading out each day for a different loop of tests. Then comes the late-summer Highland Thistle Rally, which features a tour of Scotland’s stunning coastline. You may not get those exotic locations – well, not this year – but there will still be plenty to enjoy.

“Our events are also incredibly social – there is always time for the bar at the end of the day,” adds Goodwin. “We limit larger events to 50 crews as any more affects the quality of the hotels and accommodation that we can use, and that luxury element is a big part of this. People travel together and make life-long friends as they experience the same tests and see the same wondrous sights across a period of 30 or so days on the longer events, and they make memories from it. That’s why we all fell in love with rallying in the first place, and it’s at the heart of all of our events.”

Get your vintage fix

Whether spectating or taking part, these events are highly recommended

Yorkshire Motorsport Festival
June 25-27

A new event that features the closed-road Wolfstone Hillclimb for 80 cars to compete at. Many classic car clubs too.

Classic Marathon
July 4-9

Set across Spain and Portugal, this endurance-style event includes navigating and regularity tests.

Scottish Malts
September 13-17

The 17th running of HERO-ERA’s flagship Scottish event takes in the country’s best driving roads.

London to Brighton veteran car run
November 7

With the more modern London to Brighton held at the start of June, attention turns to the Veteran event, for cars made before 1905.

Carrera Italia
October 2-12

A 10-day tour around northern Italy, with more than a smattering of race circuit visits thrown in. Carrera events feature no off-roading element

Ypres to Istanbul
June 13-July 3, 2022

With 3400 miles through eight countries over 20 days, this is the first true return to endurance for Rally the Globe since the pandemic.