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The forced hiatus that rallying is undergoing at present is bringing out some classic stories, and this one from the Otago Rally is no exception. The Otago Rally was supposed to be happening this weekend, but like every other event in the near future, it was cancelled/postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But back in the 2000s, the rally ran a super special stage around the Forbury Park trotting track in central Dunedin. It was very popular, with crowds packing the grandstand as competitors threw their rally cars around the sandy track with gay abandon. Like many great stages over the years, however, it was short-lived, and pressures from outside the sport eventually caused its demise. Otago Rally Clerk of Course, Norman Oakley, takes up the story: We ran that stage at Forbury Park four times with the last one in 2007. It was always a bit of an effort to run and we used a couple of hundred metres of the heavy concrete blocks borrowed from the Dunedin Street Race that required trucks and forklifts to put in place. The 2007 event proved to be difficult. Noise complaints from previous years meant that the council put us on notice that future use of the trotting track would require a Resource Consent. The nail in the coffin was the dry and dusty nature of the 2007 event and the construction of some new houses immediately adjacent to the circuit. Although these residents were generally supportive, one family - who had left for the day, had also left some windows open. This, coupled with the fact that a competitor - who should probably remain nameless - took out the chicane in the back straight that was designed to slow the cars down. Accordingly, cars were going quicker and quicker, and as a result they had shifted most of the loose gravel surface off the trotting track over the fence, up the walls of the adjacent house with a sizeable proportion going through the open windows - some on the first floor. The owners were not pleased and we had to cough up and pay a $2k cleaning bill. The Trotting Club, although always supportive, wondered where all their specially graded gravel had gone (most of it was over the fence...) and we had to pay another $2k to replace it. All of this, and also the fact that the Dunedin Street Race finished about the same time, which meant that we couldn't get access to the concrete barriers anymore, meant that it was time to pull the pin. It was good while it lasted!

Dust and sand thrown into houses proved a real problem in the 2007 event. Photo: Dallas Dogger

Aussie Keith Callinan slides his Monaro around Forbury Park in the 2005 Otago Rally. Photo: Peter Whitten

RSM's Peter Whitten shifts some of the Forbury Park gravel in 2007. Photo: Dallas Dogger

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