As Morecambe Car Club revisits The Farmer’s Arms on their tour of the Lake District’s old rally car routes, the club’s very own Fred Bent describes his memories of this golden era in Lakeland rally.
Throughout the nineteen ’70s and early 80’s the Lakeland fells and mountains regularly echoed with the sound of rally cars! Morecambe Car Club with the Illuminations and Mild and Bitter rallies and the on-site Furness and District Motor Club with events such as the RL Brown and Towers Leck, enjoyed a “Golden Period” attracting entries from far and wide. “Off Commers” faced stiff competition from the locals who were difficult to beat on “their patch”! Corney Fell, Jackson Ground, Piggy Lane, The Burma Road, Tow Tops, Hardknott, and Wrynose passes, cropped up in everyday conversation and who was the better driver on these iconic sections was the subject of many heated debates.
In the early part of the era, the Furness & DMC headquarters was the Farmers Arms. It was here that the members from throughout the County gathered for social evenings, quiz nights, and the start and finish of various motor rallies. Occasionally, as some of the latter events were all-night affairs the finish results and prize presentation concluded after breakfast.
The local crews were a force to be reckoned with and amongst the best in the country. The leading drivers of the day and prominent F&DMC members were Terry Benson (father George owned and ran the garage/filling Station at Grizebeck), Kendal’s Geoff Birkett, Geoff Ousby from Gleaston, and David Scaiffe, David Wear, Chris Huddleston, from Ambleside. The top navigators at the time included Chris Pudsey from Kirkby-in-Furness, Bob Readhead from Barrow, Chris Penrice from Ambleside, and Kendal’s Nigel Hunter.
On Saturday, June 24th Morecambe Car Club is running a non-competitive Touring Assembly Coronation Special “The Illuminations Grand Tour” which will revisit, some of the special routes, at a more leisurely pace. With the luxury of daylight, those taking part can see the challenges faced by the Lakeland legends of yesteryear and judge for themselves if the tales were tall or true! The secret of how “Rediffusion Lane” got its name will also be revealed! The crews will be calling at The Farmers Arms for the afternoon tea/coffee stop from around 2:45pm.