The heritage of Australian rallying was almost exclusively built on its ability to access public roads. Traditionally they were held on forest tracks, where, for most of the general public, it was a matter of out of sight and out of mind.
Across the world, as in Australia, the popularity of tarmac rallying has grown. This is, in part, because of its unique capacity to cater for both professional and semi-professional teams, accompanied by “the tour”, where entrants use their daily or classic car to enjoy a spirited drive on the same closed roads as race competitors.
Tarmac rallying, by its nature, relies on the goodwill of the public, particularly those living within the immediate proximity, who are temporarily inconvenienced when the road in front of their home or farm is closed.
For rallying to prosper, organisers are acutely aware that the events must provide a benefit to both competitors and the local community. The most notable success has been Targa Tasmania, held annually since 1992, contributing millions of dollars to the Tasmanian economy through accommodation, food and tourism, second only to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Cace. Another success story is the historic Alpine Rally held in East Gippsland.
It was while reviewing The Australian Tarmac Rally Championship (ATRC) format that Director, Peter Washington, said they revised their strategies to strengthen the commitment to the local economies who host ATRC events.
The Alpine Rally has become a regular event in Lakes Entrance. Photo: Peter Whitten
“The first of many changes will be seen at this year’s Snowy River Sprint,” Peter said.
“With the need to accommodate over 250 people, Lakes Entrance will remain the rally base, however, some of the rally operations are being relocated to the beautiful township of Buchan, where the rally is held.
“All officials will be accommodated in Buchan from Thursday to Sunday night. Official vehicles, medical and course cars will be fueled at the Buchan Valley Road House and the Saturday night Rally Dinner is to be held at the Buchan Pub. The ATRC has also made a $500 donation to the Buchan Primary School.”
Increasingly, Alpine snow resorts are exploring opportunities to attract visitors to the mountains during the warmer months.
“The Mt Baw Baw Rally is based exclusively at the Mt Baw Baw Alpine village. Organisers, competitors and support crews will all stay and eat on
the mountain,” Washington added.
“The Alpine village will cater for lunch on Saturday and Sunday as well as the Saturday night and award presentation functions. In the weeks leading up to the event, drivers and navigators, while conducting pacenote reconnaissance, will enjoy a coffee and meal at the resort before heading home.
Targa Australia takes its series to Cairns later this month.
“Although a commitment to the broader community is on the minds of all rally organisers; tarmac and gravel alike, the ATRC is taking this opportunity to make ‘mutual benefit’ central to its planning.
“We will have more exciting announcements to make over the coming months,” he added.
The 1980s is seen as the pinnacle of rallying, however, with the return of the Adelaide Rally and the inaugural Targa Great Barrier Reef, tarmac rallying in Australia is healthy.
For rallying to thrive, it must be strongest at club level, where organisers are challenged to run events that are accessible, affordable and safe.
Arguably, by demonstrating a community benefit, the Targas, the State and National Championships can help protect the goodwill given by the public to utilise the forest and tarmac roads for all levels of the sport.
Written by: Mark A. Biggs. - Mark Biggs is a competitor in the ATRC series.
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