Thursday 22 February 2024

Rally - 34 Years ago

How times, and attitudes, have changed … The text below is from a genuine Forestry Commission Press Release issued ahead of the 1990 International CHI (RSAC) Scottish Rally. I came across this whilst working on the latest book and thought it might be of interest to all those who fear for stage rallying’s future in the nation’s forests. 

It’s not just what is said in the Press Release but also what is omitted that is of interest. Where the PR mentions damage caused by rally cars, the text states that roads are ‘repaired after rallies’ have passed through but doesn’t actually state how soon or how long afterwards! Nor is any mention of how and when roads are maintained before rallies use them and/or when lorries are using them.

I fully realise this is a Press Release issued by FC to make them look good, but it is a good example of ‘PR-Speak’ which highlights the positives whilst overlooking the negatives. This was always a bone of contention in the past but at least the two sides were usually able to work together and come up with an acceptable plan and cost.

Trouble is, the future looks even more bleak now than it did then.

Full text below:


The CHI Scottish Rally is the latest British motor rally to enjoy the challenges and excitement provided by Forestry Commission forests. Sixteen of the eighteen timed special stages, which gives both drivers and spectators thrills and action, are on the Commission’s forest roads.

Mr Roger Hay, Director of Engineering at the Forestry Commission said today:

“Commission forests are clearly important to the rally organisers and spectators. They provide opportunities for drivers to test high-speed driving and manoeuvring skills and for the fans it provides some of the most dramatic pictures.

We cooperate willingly with the organisers and have done for many years since we were asked in the early 1960s to help provide off-highway facilities. We provide facilities to the RAC for 64 rallies in our forests throughout Britain every year, from the international events to the local club gatherings. Without the forests I am sure rallying in Britain wouldn’t be the same.

But these high speed driving skills take a heavy toll on our roads. We build them to a very high standard of engineering, capable of taking 38-tonne timber lorries but even these lorries don’t cause the damage that rally cars can do – especially on bends and corners. 

Our foresters and engineers prepare the routes in advance, and repair them afterwards which costs money. In some forests where a particular route is popular, and where more than one rally uses it each year, the long -term damage to the roads can be quite substantial.”

As well as being a major supporter of rallies, as manager of Britain’s largest estate, covering nearly two and one half million acres, the Commission is probably better placed than many other organisations to conserve and enhance the wildlife and environmental values of the British countryside, whilst still being able to host motorsport events of international standards.

Today’s forests have benefits and uses for all – enjoy them!


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