By Andrew Wallace
The Monte Carlo Rally is not only the world’s oldest and best-known rally, but it has a long historic link to Scotland.
This endurance event traditionally has several starts across Europe, with the 250+ competing crews all eventually converging in the Alps for the final competitive runs over snow- and ice-covered roads before the finish in Monte Carlo.
In the early 1920s one of the starting points was John O Groats, moving to Glasgow in 1924.
This year’s starting points are Milan, Bad Hombourg, Reims and the 100th anniversary Glasgow start. Competitors, and their pre 1982 cars, are coming from across Europe, Japan, Argentina, the USA and Canada.
George and Rosalind Topp joining Glasgow start
Twenty-nine cars have opted to start from Glasgow, headed by France’s Etienne Goldet in a 1977 Renault Alpine (car 53). Denmark’s Christen Larson is in a 1974 Lotus Europa, while car 247 is the 1966 Volvo Amazon of former Stonehaven couple George and Rosalind Topp.
A member of a well-known Stonehaven family, George went to Mackie Academy, later joining the Mearns Leader as journalist. He later moved to South Lanarkshire becoming editor of a paper in Lanark.
The couple now live near Bordeaux in SW France, but return to Scotland and the UK on a regular basis to compete in historic endurance rallies. This year they are also contesting the British Historic Road Rally Championship, as well as tackling the 10-day London to Lisbon Rally in April.
Tomorrow, (January 30) competitors meet at Lomond Shores, Balloch, to have their cars checked for eligibility and safety. Whilst there drivers will also be taking part in a series of driving tests, a recreation of those originally held 100 years ago on the quay in Monte Carlo.
Scrutineering and the driving tests take place in the Lomond Shores overspill car park. Scrutineering from approx. 10.30+ and driving tests start at noon.
At 8.30am on Wednesday, January 31 the Scottish competitors – some of whom have travelled from across Europe to compete – leave Blythswood Square Gardens, taking the traditional route to Calais, via Kilmarnock, Dumfries, Gretna and onto Penrith before following the A66 to Scotch Corner, and then down the east coast.
The competing cars stop briefly at Woodlands House Hotel, Woodlands Avenue, Newbridge, near Dumfries, for a passage control, with the first car expected at 10.30am
The oldest car starting from Glasgow is a 1934 Lagonda.
Feature image courtesy of Mike Griffin Photography – the Topps in action in November’s RAC Rally of the Tests – one of Europe’s toughest regularity rallies