Meanwhile, in a land far, far away ... two intrepid Scottish souls in a classic car are participating in the 2022 Sahara Challenge. Organised by the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation (HERO) this 12 day endurance rally which started in Malaga in Southern Spain before hopping across the Mediterranean to Tangier will cover some 4500 kms.
The route will take them in and around the Sahara Desert - NINE million square kilometres of sand, rolling dunes and large rock plateaus, whereas Scotland's total land mass is 77,900 sq kms!
It was on that basis that first time Sahara adventurer, ex racing driver Sandy McEwen, purchased a 'rally-prepped' 1940 Ford De Luxe Fordor with a 3.6 ltr V8 producing some 85 hp. Naturally being a competition veteran of great experience, the car was bought sight unseen!
Apparently 'rally-prepped' means different things to different people and there was trouble afoot. The car had to be completely refettled ready for its 'sandy' debut.
Sandy also thought he had better engage the services of a knowledgeable and experienced co-driver for this once in a lifetime challenge. After some diligent, painstaking research he chanced upon one Alan Stark Esq, the 1992 and 1995 Scottish Rally Championship runner-up co-driver, i.e. they both mixed in the Graham Millar (Rotor Racing) squad and knew each other!
Apparently Alan jumped at the idea before he had time to really sit down and think about it. These HERO organised endurance rallies are not just grand tours for auld gits in auld cars, they are highly competitive, well-organised events attracting younger competitors in auld cars too! The oldest car taking part is a 1914 American LaFrance Type 10 while the most 'modern' is a 1976 Opel Commodore.
Built into the route are numerous tests to assess navigational competency as well as driving skill, and it's a long time since Alan used a Terratrip or twin clocks, let alone a map and compass.
The adventure was due to start on September 19th from Malaga although plans to drive the car there to 'run it in' had to be abandoned at the last minute due to fuel feed problems. Expert help was sought and new fuel lines and pump installed but time was running out so they had to trailer the car to Malaga to make the start proper.
As this is being written the crew are now tackling Day 10 somewhere north of Marrakesh, rather different to Glendaruel or Drummond Hill, eh?
If the sun baked duo ever make it back home, and don't end up in some desert nomad's tent marooned forever to live on coconuts foraged in an oasis, the plan is to catch up with them and let you know how they fared. Hopefully this might just inspire others to have a go and do something different, really different. At least it will prove there is life and challenges after 'proper' stage rallying!