Event report: The Mintex 2022

It’s fair to say that this was an event that experienced more than its fair share of problems.  Conceived as a tribute to the Mintex Rally held in 1980 it was to feature 5 special stages from the original event.  Then Co-Vid hit and like every other event it was postponed for two years until the risk receded.

The rearranged event took place on the 8th and 9th April 2022.  A number of the planned stages were lost and the reformatted event started at Harrogate Rugby Club with stages at, Church Fenton, Odsal Stadium and Dunscombe Park.

However, the challenges kept coming and at the last-minute Church Fenton was withdrawn leaving just Dunscombe Park and Odsal Stadium.  The road book was hastily rearranged with Dunscombe Park providing the first and last stages with a run to Odsal Stadium in between.  Whilst Church Fenton would have broken the road mileage into two 35 mile runs it became a 70 mile dash to Odsal and another 70 miles back via the Rugby Club.  The Odsal stage comprised a short sprint round the perimeter track which was disappointing given the effort of driving 140 miles. 

Our own participation in the event was also in doubt.   I tested positive for Co-vid 10 days before the event and only finally tested clear the day before the start.  Our cars fuel sender had given up the ghost and the tank was removed waiting for a replacement.  The replacement never arrived and so it was reassembled with the faulty sender and we carried an emergency can of fuel. 

We arrived at the assembly point on Friday afternoon and signed on for the event.  The route book was issued but it required some marking up to accommodate the changes.  As explained previously this is not a competitive event and no licence of special preparations are required, though I would suggest a sump guard as a minimum.  Our car is a rally prepared SAAB 96 and is more than capable of dealing with the stages that lie ahead. 

Signing on

As the afternoon progressed more cars arrived including some very nice MK2 Escorts, a TR8, Lancia Delta Integrale and some early classics including an Austin Healey and a Mini.  Once fully assembled the cars represented most classic eras of rallying from the 1950’s to Group B.

The day of the rally was bright and clear, though a thin layer of snow on the car was a warning of things to come.  As previously mentioned, this is not a competitive event and your performance on the stages is very much up to you.   Some people take the driving very seriously, others (like ourselves) enjoy showing off our rally car and chatting to fellow competitors and spectators.   This difference in levels of commitment became clear at the start.  At one extreme cars turned up, stuck on the numbers and set off.  At the other extreme there were immaculate cars, drivers in flame proof overalls and crash helmets supported by service crews that followed them round the stages with tools and tyres for every eventuality.

As car number 37 our start time was a very civilised 9am. Following the road book marked with tulips (more of that in a future article) we headed to Dunscombe park.  It was a beautiful day with crisp blue skies, green fields and roadside daffodils resplendent in yellow.  The fields were full of sheep with their lambs and Red Kites hovered in the air. Even with my head down reading the route I couldn’t help but enjoy the view.

The first stage started on a concrete road which led into a concrete road with a loose and damaged surface.  Through a narrow gate to enter a woodland track, about 30 yards and then a 90 right.  The track was slippery and the woodland path opened up into a woodyard where a chicane was placed.  There were a few major potholes which were jarring on the Saab with its ultra-stiff suspension but it coped admirably even if we weren’t the fastest or most spectacular team on the course.   We were given four runs and each one was an improvement on the last both in time and driving style.

We left Dunscombe park to head for Odsal Stadium and had already calculated that it was around 70 miles, something we weren’t looking forward to as the Saab is not a comfortable drive.   In fact Ian relayed to me a conversation he had with Stig after he drove the car, “ The problem with the Saab Ian is that it is so very slow……”  We were one of the last cars to leave the last stage and given the lack of road speed there was a risk that Odsal might close before we got there.  As we headed down the A1M I made an executive decision to abandon the road book and take the most direct route via the M1 and M62 and we became the fourth car to arrive.

There was chance to chat to the other drivers and members of the public who had come to see the cars.  The conditions were poor and there was a brief but heavy snow flurry.  The course was an uninspiring run round the service road and all too soon we were heading off to Harrogate Rugby club for a late lunch.  I must say that the Rugby Club were excellent hosts and the lunch was plentiful and catered for vegetarians.  Suitably replenished we headed back to Dunscombe Park for the final stage, the same as the morning stage but run in reverse.

We started at the previous finish and headed straight into the woods.  The ruts and potholes created in the morning had less impact and the course was a little more slippy.  This final stage was a lot more fun as we were able to run as many times as we wanted without having to queue at the start.  When we had our fill, we headed back to Harrogate Rugby Club where we loaded the car on to the trailer before heading to dinner at Rally HQ.

I am aware that these events ae controversial amongst the motorsport community.  For those who own valuable historic rally cars and don’t want to expose their cars to the type of impact of competitive stage rallies, these events offer a low cost driving opportunity.  I agree with the need for safety to be a priority and appropriate insurance for both drivers and spectators.  Some clubs have actively discouraged members from taking part as drivers or marshals though I think club support would improve safety and quality.

One of the joys of these events is the opportunity to meet fellow enthusiasts.  Neil, is the owner and driver of a Renault 5 Turbo, a car very much from my era of rallying.  Neil was one of the first to set off but we passed him some time later broken down in a petrol station.   We didn’t see him again until the final stage at Dunscombe where he was having some real fun powering round the stage. At the dinner he was interviewed about his unfortunate breakdown. 

His response was interesting. 

Rallying presents challenges.  We broke down very early on but we fixed it and were able to catch the rally for the afternoon stages.   After two years we just wanted to get out there and have some fun.  Despite the problems that’s what we did. 

He was right, despite the issues we could still get out there and have some fun.

I would like to thank Ian Clark from Rallying History for the opportunity to navigate on the Mintex.

Ian Clark and his wonderful Saab

Entry list

1. Bob Bean/Miles Cartwright Ford Escort RS1600
2. John Midgeley/Mark Hill Porsche 911
3. Bob Dennis/James Dennis Subaru Legacy
4. John Shuffe/ Talbot Sunbeam
5. Bob Smith/ Escort G3
6. Andrew Storr/ Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
7. Toby Fairbank/ Escort RS1800
8. John Whalley/J J Whalley Lancia Delta Integrale
9. Justin Lawson/John Lawson Escort RS1800
10. Geoff Maybank/Will Midgeley Toyota Corolla AE86
11. Neil Brighton/ Renault 5 Turbo TDC
12. Gerald Davies/ Vauxhall Chevette HS
13. Peter Clarke/ Group 1 Escort RS2000
14. Ken Hemingway Escort RS2000
15. Les McGuffog/ Austin Healey 3000
16. George Heighway/Peter De Bono Opel Ascona
17. Dave Bonning/ Ford RS200
18. Jon Newall/ Audi Quattro S1
19. Bernard Nolan/ Ford Escort RS2000
20. Julian Cardew/ Mini Clubman
21. Chris Commons/ Peugeot 205
22. Richard North/Phil Hewitt Triumph TR7V8
23. Thomas Bradley/ Group 1 Mini 1275GT
24. Martin Pierson/Alan Ward Talbot Sunbeam 2.1
25. Chris Rae/ Toyota
26. Stuart Mason/ Ford Escort Twin Cam
27. Giles St John Barry/ Mini Cooper S
28. Philip Ashworth/ Volvo 142S
29. Jock Heighway/ Mini Cooper S
30. Tom Leeming/ Wartburg
31. Chris Steele/ Hillman Imp
32. Ian Clark/Mike Cowlam Saab 96
33. Mike Kirk/Malcolm Capstick Escort RS2000
34. Miles Cartwright/ Lotus Cortina

Gallery

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