Paul Lawrence Reports
A new event to celebrate rallying heritage ran successfully but in a fairly low-key way at the end of February when the inaugural Chester Rally Revival marked the 25th anniversary of one of the biggest moments in the career of Colin McRae.
The idea was to send a gaggle of cars and crews on a tour of Cheshire and Shropshire, taking in venues with RAC Rally heritage. It was not competitive, but some spirited driving kept the fans nicely entertained and it turned out to be a real hit with participants and spectators alike.
The field was headed by Colin’s father Jimmy
Back in 1995, McRae and Derek Ringer won the RAC Rally when it finished at Chester racecourse and, in doing so, the young Scot beat his Subaru teammate Carlos Sainz to the World Rally Championship after a ferocious and, at times, ill-tempered contest.
The Chester Rally Revival marked that memorable event by re-creating the setting for a ceremonial start on Friday evening, with star names from rallying gathered in Chester to honour McRae’s memory. On Saturday around 60 rally cars took part in a tour around venues in Cheshire and Shropshire, taking in some venues with an RAC Rally history as well as the famous road rally section over the moors near Llangollen known as ‘World’s End’.
The field was headed by Colin’s father Jimmy in the mighty Chevrolet Firenza Can-Am. Now 76, Jimmy has lost none of his passion for the sport. He drove the glorious South African-specification 5-litre Chevrolet Firenza Can-Am of Mick Strafford and, at the end of an emotional day, confirmed that it had been ‘a great day out’.
Colin’s former co-driver Nicky Grist was partnered by current British Rally Champion Matt Edwards in his replica Toyota Celica GT4, while Ian Gwynne and WRC journalist David Evans ran the ex-McRae Subaru Legacy, the car Colin took to second place on the 1992 Swedish Rally.
A gaggle of 555-liveried Subaru Imprezas, Ford RS200s, Lancia Stratos replicas, Ford Escorts and more took part in the event, which drew widespread acclaim. Crowds at Rednall kart track and Oulton Park race circuit were entertained by the array of cars and star drivers, who played to the gallery wherever possible. The fans came out, the drivers turned on the show and it was a wonderful way to celebrate a man who inspired a generation of rally fans.
The event was the brainchild of promoter Brynmor Pierce who now faces the task of deciding on the future of the event. The logical and likely next step is to build on the initial success with closed road demonstration stages added to the mix. But that would further escalate the workload and it remains to be seen where the Chester Rally Revival goes next.