Wednesday 15 February 2023

Grins, gestures and mullets

Writing a history book, even one of merely sporting interest, presents a constantly difficult and ongoing problem. The biggest problem is not so much about what is included, but what is left out! And that goes as much for the people as the sport.

Motor sport is not just about winners and losers or facts and figures, it’s about the people who are involved. Some make a bigger impact than others and some make a noticeable contribution to the public enjoyment of that sport whether winning or losing. Others come along, hit the headlines, move on and disappear and all we have to record their participation is their name on trophies.

So far, no one has attempted to record the history of the Scottish Rally Championship and surely this national competition deserves its place in the sporting world. The present Forest & Land Scotland Agreement runs out in 2030 and who knows what lies beyond. Rallying is under constant threat from social pressure and environmental concerns. Unlike football, it’s not a big enough sport to incite a public outcry or rebellion if politicians take the side of voluble pressure groups against the wishes of a smaller sporting interest.

Over the past 60 years Scotland has made a bigger impact on world rallying than many other bigger and more populous nations. And that’s without Government or sporting governing body support, unlike many other sports which have access to lottery or central government funding.

It is therefore well past time that such a record was made and kept. On that basis an attempt is being made to write a series of books covering those first 60 years of the Scottish National Rally series. The first book to be completed covering the period 1980 to 1989 is currently with the proof readers at the moment. That book will be followed by the 90s, 2000s and 2010s before interest focusses on the 1960s and 1970s of which there are currently numerous gaps in the historical record, hence the delay in starting with them.

Meanwhile I am trying to select suitable photographs to illustrate what has been an enthralling and exciting national competition, full of drama and excitement, for this current volume.

However, what started as a work of serious scholarly endeavour has been thwarted by the three over-riding facets of the sport that have been its principal attractions since the start – fun, adventure and speed.

So does this sombre work of historical record deserve to feature photographs like those included here? Liable to scare small children and horrify those of a sensitive nature?  Or should they be consigned to the Editor’s out-tray and replaced with serious portraits and action pics only?

Time will tell, eh?

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