Motormouth’s Mutterings – The End for Irish Rallycross?

Sadly, it seems Irish Rallycross is in crisis again. An article entitled “50 Entries Or Bust for Irish Rallycross” was widely shared across various social media channels last week. The gist of the piece is that Mondello Park have threatened to cancel the March 6th event if they do not receive at least 50 entries for the event.

Firstly, before everyone blames for Mondello for this- let me give you a few facts. Having worked there and seen what happens “behind the curtain” so to speak, I can tell you for a fact that it is far easier to open the gates for a trackday or run the various driving activities, than it is for them to run a Rallycross.  Also, and more importantly, it is far more profitable. It may be a circuit where we go to practise our hobby but it is also a business, and one with large overheads. Mondello would rather that this event went ahead, but if it does not make commercial sense, then who can blame them if they pull the plug?

Historically, Rallycross was strong at Mondello Park. People flocked to watch Dermot Carnegie, Lawrence Gibson and John Moloney go at it in mighty Metro 6R4s and many circuit racers thrashed their Fiat 128 3Ps in the fondly remembered class 5B. The remainder of the racers, it seemed, were in the Grandstand- which was generally packed. I remember seeing Morgan Dempsey Senior, John Hayes, John Keaney and many many others, spectating and chatting in the stand at these events. Later on, Johnny Whelan and I shared a Ritmo in 5B, and spent many weekends endlessly trying to beat John Dowling, who was the Fiat king at the time. It was only when we changed to an Uno and got Brendan Travers to work his magic on the suspension that we had proper race winning pace! Great days. Compared to a race meeting, most of which were single headers at the time, you got 2 or three practise runs, three heats and a final, which kept us, and the car, busy. We loved it!

So what has changed? Well, not much surprisingly. For an entry of €195, you can still get three practise runs, at least three heats and in some cases two finals. That is a lot of miles for your euro. There is even a class for Juniors from 14-16 years old. Let’s not forget this Junior class gave us drivers of the calibre of Niall Murray, Sean Doyle and Andrew Watson- so not a bad place to cut your teeth. (Are you listening karters?!) There is also a class for the infamous 1.25 Zetec Fiestas, of which there are almost 60 race prepared examples lying about. These are available for as little as €1,500 or can be rented on-an-arrive an drive basis for just €350- yes really! just to clarify, if you have a licence, you can be be on the grid on March 6th for just €545- including everything! There is a Rallycar class too with pretty much anything eligible.

How much damage will it do to the sport if this event is cancelled? Well, quite a lot probably. Tynagh in the West was successfully introduced as a new venue for the discipline in 2015 and could conceivably carry on there, but the big worry for the Rallycross Association is the concern that the sport realistically needs to consistently generate entries in excess of 50 to secure its future. Also, a number of competitors have been competing in the UK recently, with some not supporting the local events- and no reciprocation from the UK drivers.

One week ago, the entries were at 17, I understand that today they are in excess of 35.   It’s time to stand up and be counted guys and gals. Click HERE and download your entry form now- or forever hold your peace.

If you are interested in renting a Junior Micra or a Fiesta for this event, then CONTACT US for details.