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Whickham and District Motor Club Limited

Telephone Rallies - what are they?

Telephone rallies were invented in the early 1970s at WDMC by Colin Fish, in response to the Petrol Crisis at the time. It was very difficult to get petrol and the Government had issued Petrol Ration Books to everyone who was a registered keeper of a motor vehicle. It was pretty obvious that anyone who was driving would want to conserve as much fuel as they could, but the members of the WDMC were still keen to go Road Rallying

The idea that Colin had was to set out a route on an Ordnance Survey map, and then get a navigator to describe the route to his driver via a telephone and have the driver draw the route on an identical map. That way the two of them would have to understand each other to get the correct route, and it could be done under controlled conditions, without costing anything, and was a great way of learning the skills in a safe environment. (With on-hand help when necessary)

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The telephones were simple systems linked by a long cable enabling the driver to sit at one end of the room and the navigator to sit at the other end. That way they couldn't see each other's maps and the competition was fair (and very competitive in those days).

The driver was presented with a blank map and the navigator was given a map like the one pictured below, and as soon as the switch was thrown all the navigators would be doing their best to make sure their drivers got the correct route. It certainly paid to be able to understand what your navigator was saying, and it was a brilliant grounding for the road rally crews of years ago, many of which still remember those days fondly.

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All that was left then was for the organisers to check the route against their master copy, and then the crew with the correct route in the fastest time was the winner!

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