Johnny Greer © Tom Chisholm Photography
The Scottish Borders are now gearing up for their biggest annual sporting event, the Jim Clark Rally, which will take place on the weekend of May 31st to June 2nd. As well as attracting some of the UK’s top club, national and international rally crews, the event attracts spectators in their thousands with hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and camp sites preparing themselves for the onslaught.
Following last year’s hugely successful event under a new organising team, it was calculated that the Borders region benefited from a £4.5m cash injection to local business and, given the status of this year’s event, that figure could easily be exceeded this year.
This year’s Jim Clark Rally will again be part of three major British national rally championships, the MSA British Rally Championship, the REIS / Get Connected MSA Asphalt Rally Championship and the MSA British Historic Rally Championship, plus the two main Scottish national championships, the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship and the Blue MSA Scottish Tarmack Championship. The event will also count towards three
regional championship series. In other words there will be well over 250 cars and crews from all over Great Britain gathering in Duns and Kelso over the last weekend in May, beginning of June.
An event of this scale requires a huge investment in resources and time with the amateur organising team heavily dependent on the goodwill and dedication of car club members, other volunteers and MSA officials. Supporting this grand enterprise are Borders Regional Council and EventScotland who each help to transform this Borders based sporting competition into a major British motor sporting occasion.
As ever, the competitive elements of this event will be held on ‘Closed Public Roads’, that is, sections of public road which have been closed by Act of Parliament for up to five hours at a time to allow the competition to take place. No other road users will be permitted access to those stretches of road during these times and this is where the spectacle takes place. On that basis, this event is pretty unique on the British mainland as it is the only motor rally which is permitted to take place on ‘closed public roads’. Although such events are common in Eire and Northern Ireland as well as the Isle of Man, the only other such event is the annual Mull Rally on the Isle of Mull.
One other factor ensures that this event is quite unique. It is held each year to commemorate one of the Borders’ and Scotland’s finest sporting heroes, twice World Formula 1 Motor Racing Champion (1963 and 1965), Jim Clark, who was born in Fife and raised in Duns. Jim Clark’s first race event was contested in 1956, but prior to that he competed on local rallies, hillclimbs and sprint events in an 80 hp, 2.26 litre Sunbeam Talbot MkIII – the legend was born!