Friday 21 December 2012

Rally - Star turn Tommy

Tommy and Jim
The bane of most journalists’ lives is press conferences. Unfortunately, they are a necessary evil. In the worst cases they are hosted by people who have nothing to say, and then go on for 20 minutes to prove it. In others, the hosts simply read out the Press Release which they are handing out in print form or on a USB stick.

These ‘conferences’ are usually followed by a question and answer session, but few journalists ever ask questions in front of their assembled rivals from other news outlets – they don’t want the opposition to know their line of thinking.

In fact, the real business is done after the conference when individual journalists harangue the assembled experts and guests privately, away from professional eavesdroppers and the company PR staff who try to shield their designers, engineers and marketers from the probing questions of the press. 

There are exceptions. Take yesterday for instance. The organisers of next month’s Glasgow start for the 2013 Monte Carlo Classic Rally hosted a wee reception in the city to announce details. On January the 26th, Glasgow will join Copenhagen, Reims and Barcelona as one of the host cities for the formal start of this event which first ran in 1911, and has run every year since, apart from the war years. 

The conference in the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green yesterday was hosted by one George Donaldson, a man whose enthusiasm knows no bounds, and he welcomed words from chief organiser Douglas Anderson, host city representative Scott Taylor and one James McRae Esquire who was also in attendance.

Tommy still has his rally plate
But the star of the show was Tommy Bryce. He competed in the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally driving a 2.5 litre Riley. The car was owned by car dealer Herbert Feldman who owned Pegasus Motors in Glasgow and the enterprise was sponsored by Strang the Jewellers with Joe Strang inviting himself along for the ride as part of the deal. 

As for Tommy, he got the part of driver simply because he looked after Herbert’s cars as Herbert did a bit of hillclimbing and sprinting in those days too. Anyway, it would appear that Herbert entertained little notion of driving all the way to the south of France. “It was a real thrill when he asked me to do it,” said Tommy, “for a 24 year old mechanic who had never been out of Scotland being asked to drive to Monte Carlo, it was the chance of a lifetime.” 

Naturally, Tommy did the bulk of the driving, and at one point: “We were well down, south of Paris, the other two were flaked out in the back and I was still at the wheel. At one point I drove down a long line of marker cones with the Riley astride them, just so the thumping noise would keep me awake!”

It must have been some adventure, and of the over 400 entrants, the 'Glasgow' team finished 204th from a  start number of 200. No bad, eh? 

And you know what, that was one of the best press conferences ever. Tommy made my day.


  1. Hahahaha - good story John. Just how many cars will start from Glasgow this year? I think it was 3 last year??? Many many more the year before........

  2. I see it could be up to 40 cars (note the 'up to' ) and will be at the Peoples' Palace - with 'up to' 100 classic cars on display.