Wednesday 13 September 2023

Rally - The Princess Foghorn

Once upon a time, the Galloway Hills Rally was a rather different affair to what will be presented to the rallying public in the Galloway forests this weekend. For a start it was originally a stress-free, non-championship event whereas Saturday’s (16th Sept) Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally is the penultimate round of this year’s KNC Groundworks Scottish Championship, and as such there is rather more at stake than fun and frolics.

The 1980 Galloway Princess Rally was such an event. Running over the weekend of 29th/30th of November, this traditional end of season thrash was sponsored by Sealink (Scotland) with concessionary ferry fares luring over a flock, herd, band, gang or motley collection (what’s the collective name for such a group?) of Irish crews and cars to do battle with the home based Scots and the English folk from just around the corner in Cumbria and Northumbria.

Global warming hadn’t been heard of back then so there was no surprise when the Saturday night revellers woke on the Sunday morning to first scrape the ice off the inside of the various Castle Douglas hotel windows and then the outside of rally car windscreens. At least that provided advance warning of the stage conditions. The surfaces were slippery, damned slippery.

This event also took place back in the dark old days of no mobile telephones, no YouTube moving picture updates while folk thought the internet was for catching salmon in the Solway. For that reason the Irish invasion was accompanied by Brian and Liz Patterson who produced the on-event Bulletins entitled – ‘The Princess Foghorn’ – and who were helped/hindered in their information gathering task by one J Bunnet Esq.

The bulletins were hastily typed up on plastic printing plates called ‘skins’ and then run off on an ink-fed duplicator in the back of the Brian&Liz mobile before being passed to volunteers to distribute them around the ten stage route. Technology at its finest!

Anyway, 43 years ago the rally was won by a young chap called Malcolm Wilson who had his sponsor, and boss of Total Petroleum in this country, John Donovan along for the fright of his life. Less than half a minute behind this pairing was Drew Gallacher with Frank Main. Ian Cathcart was third with Ernest Kidney while in 4th place was the 1600cc Mazda hatchback of John Lyons and Willie Rutherford. The top 1300cc car finished in a scintillating seventh place overall and that was the Escort driven by Graham Walker urged on by a certain Ken Wilson Esq – keeping it in the family.

Donald Heggie had a lady, Rosemary Gordon from the Royal Scottish Automobile Club, out for a hurl but when he punctured on the penultimate stage, the gentleman that Donald was had to change the wheel himself! Also losing out was Bill Dobie. He and Pete Mellor were leading the rally when the Escort got sucked into a bog. Derek Boyd, who described himself as the second cousin of the ‘real Derek Boyd’ broke his Sunbeam’s axle while the number 16 seed, Kevin Doyle, managed a rally finish despite being ‘navigated’ by a chap called Ivor Clark!

An additional note – Ivor was a wee bit under the weather on the day and was asking folk if they had any Bisto. Why? He was suffering a case of ‘the runs’ and reckoned that according to the adverts, “Bisto browns and thickens”. Oh, please yourselves.

Another odd choice was the selection of a TVR Tasmin as Course Car – it didn’t make it out of the first stage!

Ivor wasn’t the only one under the weather after the Saturday night frolics, but as if some folk didn’t have enough then, they resumed where the left off after the rally on the Sunday night. Some folk never learn.

There won’t be any of that shenanigans this weekend though because the Scottish Championship title could be decided with one round to go. Serious stuff.

Full spectator info here:

… And of course, SRCTV’s Becksport Media  will be out on the stages filming the action for YouTube on the Scottish Rally Championship channel no doubt with commentators Hugh Daudit an Niall Whacket attempting to relay the drama, thrills and spectacular action. Gaun yersels lads and lasses.

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