The birth of the BRCVINTAGE CAR: Founder member Bill Mallalieu was a fierce competitor. (FP)
By STEFAN WALKER | Wed, July 11, 2012 - 12:01 AM
THE MONTH of July marks another year of celebration for the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) and it is not the usual celebration of rallying we are accustomed to.
This year, the Barbados Rally Club celebrates 55 years since its establishment in the summer of 1957 and it is fitting that we look back at the first decade of the club’s life.
Towards the end of 1956, David Massiah and Maurice Hutt, while driving through the parish of St John, came across Rock Hall Hill. On seeing this road, one of them remarked “what a hill for a motor rally.”
That was the defining moment in sporting history as the discovery led to a series of meetings throughout 1957 and thus the June Rally was born. The next month, all competitors from the June Rally were called to a meeting and it was at this meeting that the Barbados Rally Club was formed.
In the early days, the club’s name became an issue of some degree as Trevor Bowring had stated that the club should only organize rallies because of its name. When he did not get the necessary support, he resigned.
Despite this, the club marched forward and much to Bowring’s chagrin, dabbled in other forms of motor sport.
With the navigational rallies in full swing, the club then got into dexterity tests. But the first in 1959 at the Seawell Airport, had a dismal maiden outing. It was stated that drivers could not participate in the spectating which led to a lacklustre first try.
However, they learned from the mistakes and soon after, the dexterity grew in popularity. This event became a great spectacle with three classes – large, small and open. The club also used creative ways in naming the events based on club members at the time. They had such names as Fred’s Fantasy, Hazel’s Horror, Maurice’s Menace.
By the turn of the 1960s, mileage rallying had made it to the shores of Barbados but this idea had its issues. The most major one being the size of the country. Most countries which engage in mileage rallies are more than ten times the size of Barbados, so for places like Australia or France, 300-mile rallies where somewhat of a cake walk.
With Barbados being a mere 166 square miles, organizing a rally of this magnitude that would be entertaining for competitors was quite some task. There was also the fact that competitors might get bored at about 150 miles into the event so it was difficult for them.
Despite persistent rain during the very first event, the club managed to pull it off, and the low budget to stage the event made it easy for the concept to attract other competitors as well.
Not only were competitors attracted, but so were the dealerships which used the rally to market their cars. The period also marked the start of motor sport being sponsored by businesses. There was the Mobil-sponsored Mileage Rally from 1961 and Esso soon followed suit, sponsoring the June Rally in 1965.
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