Thursday 25 May 2023

Rally - 40 years ago

… or to be more precise, 42 years ago, there were serious fears regarding the future of the Jim Clark Memorial Rally. 

Northumbrian Motor Club team had decided to withdraw from organising this annual event, but Border Ecosse CC and Berwick & District MC stepped in to fill the void. The reason was simple, they wanted to ensure the tradition of a local motorsport event on the original rally date to coincide with Reivers Week. It was an easy fix, BECC’s already established Ecosse Stages Rally was pulled back a few weeks and the new joint organising team announced their Jim Clark Memorial Stages Rally for 1982.

Although not a counter in the national Scottish Championship any more, the new event retained its status within the East of Scotland Championship and therefore attracted a decent entry to its 12 stage format. Starting and finishing in Duns, the stages consisted of four visits to Charterhall plus some private roads including locations at Langtonlees, Twinlaw Cairn, Westruther Mains, Stichill Stables, Sunlaws and Lempitlaw, with Monylaws and New Heaton just over the border in Northumberland.

Winner of the previous four Ecosse Stages Rallies, Dom Buckley had the coveted number one on the door of his Ford Escort and with George Blackie alongside immediately opened up a slight lead over the first two tests at Charterhall. Ivor Clark bounced back over the next two to overtake Buckley, although whether he was helped or hampered by his co-driver on the day was a moot point. In the co-driver’s seat of the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus was one George Marshall Esq!

Doug Riach and Rodger MacFarlane finished third in the Hydrasun Vauxhall Chevette ahead of Jimmy Horne and Ashley Horne in the Stakis Hotels Escort. Dropping out of the leading trio early on was Andrew Wood whose Strathclyde Motor Spares Escort was plagued with electrical troubles till it was a finally sorted for the final four stages. By then it was too late to finish any higher than fifth. Adding a little dash of exotic interest to the entry list and the final top ten was David Murray’s Porsche 911 which finished eighth overall.

The success of this ‘new’ event therefore assured a future for the rally and which has ultimately led to this weekend’s motor sport extravaganza in the Scottish Borders. Thanks are therefore due to the sterling efforts of a small band of dedicated individuals from two car clubs plus friends and colleagues from other car clubs around Scotland to ensure the Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Memorial Rally remains a fitting tribute to the man whose name it bears.

So to all those planning to visit the event this weekend please bear in mind and respect the efforts of all those volunteers who organise and officiate to ensure that the rally continues to entertain, enthral and excite the local folks, the visitors and the fans while playing a vital part of the Scottish Borders sporting life.

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