Iconic RAC rally to visit Bradley Stoke on Saturday

RAC Rally of the Tests: Austin-Healey 3000 and replica 6 EMO Mini.

The RAC building in Bradley Stoke is to play host to 100 classic cars early on the morning of Saturday 5th November as one of the most iconic and famous rallies in the world, the RAC Rally of the Tests, comes to Bristol.

The first competitors will arrive at the RAC in Great Park Road (BS32 4QN) just after 8am. Over the course of three hours each of the 100 competitors will take part in a driving skills test in the car park before continuing their journey to Stoke-on-Trent.

Paddy Hopkirk with Peall Trophy.

The official re-start of day two of the rally will be carried out by legendary rally driver Paddy Hopkirk, who won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini Cooper S, registration number 33 EJB. Inducted into the Rally Hall of Fame in 2010, Paddy went on to win the RAC Golden 50, a historical anniversary race held in 1982 to celebrate the 50th RAC Rally, driving a Mini Cooper.

Spectators are welcome to come along free of charge from 8am to 10.30am to get a close-up look at the cars taking part which will include: a 1963 Porsche 356, once owned by British speed record breaker Donald Campbell; a 1964 ‘works’ Austin Healey 3000; a 1959 Volvo PV544 and a Mini Cooper that Paddy Hopkirk drove to win the Pirelli 1990 Classic Marathon – a replica of the famous 8 EMO-reg car that he used so successfully in the 1960s.

The rally, which dates back to 1932, started life as a reliability test with competitors driving 1,000 miles. Over the years it transformed into modern stage rallying with the fastest time being the all-important factor, eventually becoming known as the RAC Rally, which later became Wales Rally GB.

In 2001, however, the Rally of the Tests was revived for classic vehicles encompassing authentic regularity and skills tests similar to the original 1930s’ RAC Rally. This year sees the return of the RAC name to the event, now run by the Historic Endurance Rally Organisation (HERO), as a result of a sponsorship arrangement between RAC Motoring Services and the Royal Automobile Club.

The RAC Rally of the Tests begins in Bournemouth on Thursday 3rd November and finishes in Chester on Sunday 6th November – a route of 756 miles. The event features 19 ‘regularities’ where competitors drive on public roads aiming to arrive at their destination as close to a pre-set time as possible, 31 ‘driving skills’ tests and two time control sections, all of which take place on private land.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams, who is organising the event at the RAC in Bradley Stoke, said:

“Back in the 1930s the RAC Rally attracted huge crowds to witness the spectacle of competitors battling against some of the most challenging routes and conditions in motor sport.”

“While it is the event that effectively created modern rallying, the RAC Rally of the Tests is now really a return to the original format as it is not focussed on speed, with competitors driving all the way from Bournemouth to Chester on public roads. We hope that by hosting the start of day two of the rally at RAC Bradley Stoke we will give local people a fantastic chance to get a first-hand look at some amazing classic cars.”

“The event at RAC Bradley Stoke is free of charge so it’s just a question of getting up relatively early for a unique opportunity to see some of the finest classic cars ever made, before they depart to continue the rally north.”

To find out more, visit the RAC Rally of the Tests page on the HERO website (and refer to menu in left sidebar).

• There will be no parking for spectators on site. Please park considerately on adjacent roads.

Photos: 1 Austin-Healey 3000 and replica 6 EMO Mini. 2 Paddy Hopkirk with the Peall Trophy.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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