How does rallying differ from something like Formula 1? Well a rally is more of a point-to-point race rather than round a circuit. The cars which take place must be built for roads, rather than using special race cars.
The more famous example, and one of the first rallies, was the Monte Carlo Rally which began in 1911. Actually, there were rallies before that, the Paris-Rouen competition in 1894, you would be lucky getting a car to go all the way from Paris to Monte Carlo! After this came the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race. Then in Britain came the London-Glasgow race and Germany the Herkomer trophy, which was a 1000Km hill climb.
Alpine rally began in the 1930s, starting with the Alpenfahrt, which despite its unfortunate sounding name, continued until 1973. (It just means “Alpen travel” by the way.)
After the Second World War, every European country seemed to hold its own rally. There needed to be a way to join all these rallies together, which unfortunately didn’t happen until 1953 with the European Rally Championship.
Rally Then and Now:
You don’t need to be professional to take part in a rally but it is expensive to join. A Sydney to London will cost about the equivalent of $41,000 and just because you sign up in a number of months before the race there’s no guarantee you will get a place – it’s first come, first served.
One key component of Rally Driving is the ability to repair common mechanical issues on the fly. This was a much bigger component historically as vintage and veteran cars are more likely to break down than their modern counterparts. But even with a modern style rally you will need knowledge of mechanic repair should anything go wrong.
It seems that people want bigger challenges, preferring not to look at the small events; however this must be the place to start for anyone new to the wheel, as it were.
Dangers of Rally:
People go on about the dangers of Formula One racing, especially in its beginnings, but how dangerous is rally driving? At the time of writing Anthony Mora seems to be the last registered death in 2017 in the French Rally Cup.
However, an unnamed spectator died when Hayden Padden performed a rather large corner skid and made the car fall down an embankment in 2017. Three spectators were killed in a rally in single accident in Scotland the same year, making spectating seem more dangerous than racing.
Despite Morbid Curiosity:
As with any other racing, people do take a morbid interest in car crashes and the internet overflows with pictures of damaged cars as well as crash footage. I suppose the most interesting part of the racing are the crashes, however unsettling it might seem, the real issue is the false perception that racing is inherently dangerous.
Safety concerns are quickly addressed in the industry and the races are continuously improved. Although rally driving doesn’t produce the most deaths in motor sport, far from it, it seems that racing and death will always keep close company, whatever changes are made.