Bradley Stoke to host finish of world famous classic car rally

Photo of a car taking part in the Bradley Stoke stage of the 2016 event.

The landmark RAC Supercentre in Bradley Stoke is to play host to the finish of one of the most iconic rallies in the world, the RAC Rally of the Tests, on the afternoon of Sunday 11th November, from 2pm.

The first of 100 classic cars competing to win the event will arrive at the RAC in Great Park Road at around 3pm. Over the course of two hours, each will take part in a driving skills test in the car park with the winner of the rally being waved across the finish line.

Promising to be a rare spectacle, the rally – which is open to vehicles built before 1st January 1986 – follows a 750-mile route, starting in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, on Friday, travelling through the East Midlands and South Wales, and finishing in Bristol.

Along the way, competitors and their co-pilots will take on multiple driving tests and navigational challenges. The 2018 RAC Rally of the Tests will, in fact, feature 20 ‘regularities’ where competitors drive on public roads aiming to arrive at their destination as close to a pre-set time as possible, together with 30 ‘driving skills’ tests.

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. The RAC Rally became synonymous with stage rallying and the RAC name stayed with the event until 1998 when it became the Rally of Great Britain and, several years later, 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. In 2016, the RAC name was returned 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.

Spectators are welcome to come along free of charge to see the final test and finish of this year’s rally at the RAC Supercentre in Bradley Stoke from 2.30pm to 5.30pm. This year, there will be a chance to get a close-up look at the cars taking part, which include eight cars from the 1950s, 44 from the 1960s, 28 from the 1970s, seven from the 1980s and one from the 1930s.

Among the most notable cars are four Volvo PV544s – two from the late 1950s and two from the 1960s, a 1966 Morris Mini Cooper S, a 1963 Porsche 356B, a 1954 Austin Healey 100/4 BN1, and, of course, a 1936 Bentley Derby 4¼. The two newest cars taking part this year are a 1985 Porsche 924S and a 1985 Porsche 944.

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

“There are not many events where you can get to see such a fantastic range of classic cars up close and free of charge, so we encourage everyone, whether they are motorsport fans or not, to come along and enjoy the spectacle.”

“It offers the chance to see some truly amazing cars of yesteryear being put through their paces over a small but challenging course. From an RAC perspective, it will be great for a business that has always been at the heart of British motoring to play host to the finish of one of the most famous rallies which once again carries its name.”

Refreshments and food will be available to buy. Spectators are urged to use on-street parking nearby or public transport (First Bus services 73 or T1).

To find out more, visit the RAC Rally of the Tests 2018 page on the HERO Events website.

Photo: Action at the Bradley Stoke stage of the 2016 RAC Rally of the Tests. [Credit: Graham Bloomfield]

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 6 & 7). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

POSTSCRIPT (8th November 2018): Spectator information on the HERO website gives the time of the Bradley Stoke event as 3.10pm to 5.25pm.

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