Charles Samson was an interested spectator at Saturday’s Scottish Rally. However, the 1975 and 1977 Scottish Rally Champion was a little dismayed at the way rallying is going these days.
Charles and his brother Alec contested the 1975 Scottish Rally in their Mk1 Ford Escort. They finished just outside the top ten in 11th place that year, but that was only because they tipped the car backwards over a banking in Whiteash Forest. “We lost only two minutes,” recalled Charles, “but we weren’t the only ones. The Flying Finish caught out a few crews on that last corner, so we were in good company!”
But here’s the thing. On Saturday, the Scottish Championship event winner, Euan Thorburn, spent less than 36 minutes driving competitively over 5 Special Stages. Way back in 1975, the winner took 4 hours 1 minute and 56 seconds to drive over 44 Special Stages. In fact, the Scottish Rally that year had been reduced to ‘only’ 3 days because of political considerations and the state of the economy – some things never change, eh?
So it was with a sense of loss that Charles reflected on the glory of Scottish rallying, but who was the man who won the rally outright that year? It was none other than Roger Albert Clark in the bright red Cossack Escort taking his third successive international victory in a MkII and winning the Scottish for the sixth time in 12 years.
And by the way, Charles omitted to tell me just how far behind Roger he was, but I was there. The difference was nearly 20 minutes, but then Roger had a ‘works’ car and Charles and Alec’s machine was built by one Willie Greig Esq.