On Saturday 20th October 2018, if you where driving around Somerset or Devon you might have seen some unusual cars on the roads. No you hadn't gone back in time, the Lombard Rally was back, thanks to one man's idea. Tim Nash and his team managed to organise this very special event which could have been the largest collection of historic rally cars assembled in the UK so far.
The Lombard Rally Bath (as the event was known) was to replicate part of the 1976 Lombard RAC Rally route. On Saturday morning at 8 am Bath was woken to the roar of the rally cars pulling away from the Bath Spa Hotel, they followed to route to Longleat, then onto Cricket St Thomas from there they went onto Colyford Service Station at Colyford and then onto Wiscombe (where I was stood with my trust camera). From there they would move onto to Minehead for a spot of lunch, once refreshed they went up Porlock Toll Road once at the top they continued to Tarnock Garage at Axbridge and then back to Bath Spa Hotel.
Not only did Tim Nash manage to get a large amount of historic cars but he managed to get some famous competitors too. How about five time British Champion Jimmy McRae in the Opel Manta 400. David Llewellin in the Audi 200 quattro. Oh and some bloke called Stig was present. Stig Blomqvist that is in the Audi Quattro Group B. There was also some famous ladies from the world of rallying. Rosemary Smith, in the Ford Escort TC Mark 1, she was a forced to be reckoned with back in the 60's and she is still going strong at 80 years of age. Some may rest at that age but she doesn't as she has now become the oldest person to drive a Formula 1 car when she took the Renault Sports F1 car out for a spin at Paul Ricard. Also driving was Jill Robinson in the Ford Escort RS1800 who made 7 RAC Rally starts. Louise Aitken- Walker a well known name from the 1980's and 90's.
Its hard to imagine that 30 to 40 years ago this event use to bring more people out to the British countryside than a Football League match would. How times have changed, however it was great to see so many people lining the route at Wiscombe Park to watch the field of cars powering up the hill. Though they were told not to race up the hill, clearly there was some that powered up, with one even having a spin at Wis Corner followed by a big cheer from the crowd.
There is a rumour it will be back next. I really hope its more than a rumour.