I had a great couple of days crewing the Road Closing Car for the Argyll Rally with John McDermott and I thought that it might be of interest to you to know how the road closing procedures are carried out and what all the cars which travel in front of the rally do.

We attended the Safety and Official Cars briefing in Rally HQ on Friday afternoon and then, having booked into our accommodation, we were on the start line in Dunoon at 18:00 on Friday ready to close the roads for the two Town Centre stages.

Then we went north to close the roads for the new Tarsan Dam stage and then we headed down to do the same for the two Kinlochruel stages, one of which had to be cancelled for safety reasons because of a thoughtlessly parked van in the middle of the stage, and despite the sterling efforts of Police Scotland the driver could not be found in time to allow the first run of the stage to take place but the second run (stage 5) was able to run because the van was moved in time. Then it was north again to close the road for the Otter Ferry stage.

We were up early on Saturday morning, with no breakfast except for a congealed bacon, egg and tomato sandwich bought the night before (not to be recommended), and after closing the road at Glendaruel at 08:53 we closed Bealach Maim, Loch Fyne and Whistlefield before a two hour break for lunch and then back up to Glendaruel to repeat the four morning stages.

All fourteen stages were staffed by experienced marshals, radio marshals, medics, and rescue and recovery crews along with some welcome ‘new blood’ from the Isle of Bute Resilience Team and cadets from Police Scotland.

We were followed by set up cars who made preparations which couldn’t be done before the roads were closed, then by the safety and official cars including the Equipment Officer, the Chief Marshal, Spectator Control, Car 000, the Event Safety Officer with the MSUK Safety Delegate, Car 00, Car 0 running at 70% rally speed and finally the first competitive car. All the Safety and Official cars had radio communication linking back to the Clerk of the Course, the MSUK Steward and other officials in Rally HQ in Dunoon as well as a tracker system which showed the team in HQ exactly where they were. All safety cars had at least one official who holds an MSUK Safety Licence.

My thanks go to John McDermott for driving the whole route and it is worth noting that every road closure on the fourteen stages was closed on time!

And that’s how the closure of public roads for motorsport events happen!

Following an operation in 2020 I currently have difficulty walking, but that isn’t a major problem because rally duties can always be found or adapted for everyone, taking account of their capabilities, and as we are always looking for new volunteers, please contact your local motorsport club if you would like to ‘give it a go’. Full training is available, and you will always be buddied up with an experienced person who will pass on their knowledge and also make sure that you stay safe.

Photo: Ron Cowan

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Ron Cowan