Monday, 6 December 2021

Rally - FIA elections

It was certainly an action packed, drama filled F1 race yesterday, but was it a triumph of spectacle over sporting endeavour? It does seem that since an American media company acquired the FI rights four years ago, a little bit of the Wild West has been injected. There's no doubt that it has increased the viewing audience and participation, added drama and spectacle, whilst generating wider interest and excitement, but at the expense of pure racing? Surely not?

There does seem to be a dangerous mix of big business and politics at play with money and power screwing up what is basically a sport. Just look at football or boxing. At international level there are an awful lot of people who have never kicked a ball or thrown a punch who are making money out of 'the sport' and F1 seems to be on the same road.

Of course rallying is immune from such shenanigans, isn't it? The trouble is, the FIA who sanctions F1 also makes up the rules for WRC and what happens there ultimately filters down through the ranks to national events and amateur club competitors.

That's why the current FIA Presidential leadership contest should be of concern to licence holders and fans as whoever wins will determine the future direction of motor sport. In this closed off autocratic world of power and politics those at the bottom of the food chain have no say.

The FIA claims to be a democratic organisation, but who elects the voters? The FIA has 236 members from 139 countries and there are two presidential candidates in the running for the forthcoming elections. Each candidate must have his team of ten named individuals in place when he/she submits their candidacy and also the support of a specific number of ACNs (national automobile clubs - like the RAC) and ASNs (national sporting clubs - like MS UK).

In fact, both the RAC and MS UK have thrown their weight behind Mohammed ben Sulayem's bid. The  former Middle East Rally Champion, from the United Arab Emirates, is spearheading the 'FIA for Members' campaign and included amongst his team is Robert Reid who has been selected for the post of Deputy President for Sport. On that basis, rallying has a fairly good presence in the bid.

On the other hand sometime racing driver and barrister Graham Stoker's 'FIA for All' bid has received some heavyweight backing from the Motor Sport Industry Association and the likes of Alan Gow, Nigel Mansell, Derek Warwick and Rob Jones.

The 'FIA for Members' plan promises change while the 'FIA for All' is promising development. Tough choice, eh?

Such weighty matters shouldn't really affect our home grown sport here in the forests and on the roads of the UK, but it will and it does. For instance, it was the FIA which decreed that hybrid rally cars be introduced in the WRC next year, and that's just for starters.

Of course, that is no bad thing given current environmental concerns but it should sound a warning to motor sport and rallying in particular. Motor sport is particularly vulnerable to criticism because it is seen to use fossil fuels directly, whereas its use by other sports is less transparent but nonetheless vital. Stadiums need power and fans and teams have to travel to venues by car, bus, train or plane.

For sure the FIA has been in for a lot of criticism lately with regard to incidents, decisions and penalties and has been criticised for lack of reaction and over reaction. Whatever, they have an impact on leadership and that affects us. On that basis it will be interesting to see who the new President and his team will be and what they have planned for the future of rallying. Fingers crossed, eh?

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Tom Coffield, 1926 - 2021

Even if you didn't know him or ever met him, rally fans will have seen his work. Tom Coffield was an integral part of the Scottish rallying scene for over 40 years, firstly as a competitor and latterly as a motor sports photographer. Sadly, he passed away last Friday (19th Nov.).

In actual fact, Tom's day job was plumbing and he operated a successful plumbing and heating business based in Crianlarich and the surrounding area till he retired, but that gave him more time to pursue his other great joy in life, photography.

He got involved in motor sport some time in the early 1960s through friends in the Perth based 55 Car Club. Initially, he competed on navigational events, trials, autocross, sprints and hillclimbs first in a Sunbeam Rapier and then a Mini Cooper.

It was another 55 CC member, Arthur Jasper who suggested that he might like to try stage rallying with the Mini. He actually competed on the first ever Mullard Tour of Mull Rally in 1969 with Martin Cruickshank in the Mini and they finished 31st overall but already realisation was dawning. To be competitive, required something with a bit more poke.

He bought his first Escort 1300GT in 1970, later replaced with a Mexico and an RS1600, and went rallying with regular navigator Ron Adam, or sometimes Neil Fraser who was later to become his son in law. He still participated in the many and various motor sporting disciplines that were a staple part of club motor sport in those early days and also served time on the committee of 55 Car Club putting something back.

It's fair to say he was never a front runner, but that was down to budget and time, running his own business came first, motor sport was his escape.

We'll never know how good he could have been, but in the 1972 Shell Scottish Rally Championship he finished 29th equal in the points standings at the end of the season. In 1973 he scored a top twenty finish, this time 19th equal.

In 1974, the rules of the Challengers section of the national series were changed and he finished that season in 4th place overall in the Challengers points tables.

In 1975 he called it a day, but he wasn't finished with rallying. He had time for another hobby which was easier to manage alongside his 'day job', photography and thereafter he specialised in capturing the action primarily on stage and classic rallies as well as many other forms of motor sport.

In the days before digital photography, motor sports photographers were a much smaller and more exclusive band of hardy folks who followed the sport and Tom fell in with a 'bad crowd' comprising variously of Jim Barclay, Alistair Farquhar and Iain Wallace amongst others.

Jim of course was more of a videographer and therefore required different locations to film the action compared to the needs of stills photographers and there followed interminably vociferous 'Jack & Victor' type discussions about where to go, how to get there and which was the best spot.

But that was Tom. In his element with his camera, a flask, some friends and a box of corned beef sandwiches, and he was ready for anything.

The sport has lost another great pal and our thoughts must be with his family at this very sad time, daughter Jane and the two boys, Neil and Tom Jnr and all his wide circle of friends.

The funeral service will be held in Killin Church (Main St, Killin FK21 8TN) on Thursday 2nd December at 11.00 am.

Note: There is a more detailed, full version of this tribute here:

(Thanks to Tom Coffield Jnr and Alistair Farquhar for the pics)


Rally - Puzzle Pic

Spotted at last weekend's Scottish Borders Hill Rally - an MG Metro 6R4 in full flight, or is it? It must be, surely? It's got four wheel drive and six cylinders giving it yee-haa, but it sounds different. So it can't be, can it? Oh no it isn't. Oh yes it is - or is it? All will be revealed, and more, shortly!


Friday, 19 November 2021

Rally - R.A.C. Rally

The entry list and timetable have now been published for this year's event on the 25-29 Nov and there's no real surprise in the automotive line-up. Of the 150 or so cars entered, two thirds are Fords! 

There's quite a few of our lot heading south for this great adventure, so check them out on the Entry List:

Timetable here:

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Rally - Milltown Stages

The final round of the Marshall Construction Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship takes place on Sunday (21st of Nov) near Elgin. The event is called the Annabelle Tennant Milltown Stages Rally in memory of the late and much loved 'Gravel Granny' herself, Annabelle Tennant whom we lost some 5 years ago now.

The title of 2021 Scottish Tarmack Rally Champion will be determined on this final round and although Alistair Inglis looks like he has one hand on the trophy, there is an outside chance that Jamie Miller in the Citroen C2 could perhaps snatch it away. However, for that to happen Jamie would need to win his class and Alistair not finish. Although, by my (questionable) reckoning, Jamie would score just enough points to match Alistair's total which would then go to the tie-decider - and that's way above my pay grade.

That's because this championship, unlike most others, is decided on class wins and points. With the same number of points available for each of the 5 classes, there is always the chance of a tie. But there is a 'but', there is a minimum number of entrants for each class to allow full points to be scored. If that minimum number isn't reached then full points won't be awarded. Clear? No, me neither!

Full entry list here: