With the dust hardly settled following the successful execution of Sol Rally Barbados 2022, the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) is urging “the older guard” to come out and help celebrate an important milestone in the Club’s history. The Shelbury Construction 65th Anniversary June Safari later this month (June 25/26) continues the legacy of the Club’s roots in navigational rallying, which date back to Sunday, June 16, 1957.
The only event in the Chefette BRC MudDogs Championship which runs through the night, the 65th Anniversary Safari will feature four routes, and the Club is keen to see former competitors join the celebrations. Entries are open at Motorsport Services at Haggatt Hall and will close at 3.00pm on Friday (June 17), although late entries will be accepted with an additional fee; the Briefing Meeting will be at the BCTSA Clubhouse, Searles, Christ Church, at 7.00pm on Tuesday, June 21.
Ricky Holder, Chairman of the BRC MudDogs Committee, said: “The final route on Sunday will not require a 4×4 vehicle and there’s a special structure for entry fees for the whole event. We are encouraging all the older guard to come out and celebrate with us by participating in this route . . . or even more of the event if they want to. We are experiencing a revival of interest in navigational events, with newcomers and returning competitors boosting the field, so the Anniversary event is coming at a good moment.”
‘The June‘, as it is fondly known, is the longest-established motor sport event in the region with a continuous history, interrupted only in 2021 when prevailing Covid-19 protocols prevented driver and navigator sitting in a vehicle together; weeks after the inaugural event was run, the organising committee called the participants together – there had been a 60-strong entry in 1957 – and agreed to form the BRC, which is now the oldest organisation in the island devoted to a sport not played with a ball and the oldest motor sport club in the region still bearing its original name.
Over the past 65 years, the BRC’s unique place in island motor sport as organiser of circuit racing, navigational and stage rallying events is well-documented. Having first encouraged overseas visitors to participate more than 50 years ago, the Club’s blue riband event, Sol Rally Barbados, is now a key pillar of the island’s sports-tourism product, having hosted approaching 500 competitors from more than 30 countries since the turn of the century.
Jeanne Crawford, the Rally Club’s Treasurer, is family to Maurice and Hazel Hutt, also David and Wilfrid Massiah, who were among the Founding Members in 1957 along with Bill and Fred Mallalieu and others. Reflecting on its history, she said: “For the Club to have lasted 65 years speaks to the dedication of the volunteers past and present who have served on the Committee of Management and in so many other roles. Motor sport, like the Club, has evolved over those years, but our focus has always been to provide a safe and enjoyable environment in which the membership can compete.
“Family has always played an important part in the structure of the membership and we now have second- and third-generation competitors following in the wheeltracks of their fathers, mothers… even grand-mothers! While Sol Rally Barbados now has a worldwide following, our grassroots events such as the Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship and the Oasis Autocross Championship ensure that we are providing a framework for future generations to make a start in motor sport.
“The Club’s success has been greatly assisted by the support of corporate Barbados, the respective Governments down the years, our many volunteers, competitors from home and away and the spectators who create the backdrop against which we stage our events. On behalf of the Club, I offer a sincere thank you to all those who have contributed during the past 65 years.”
While it has been superseded as the Club’s premier event, ‘The June’ remains a keystone of the calendar as the highlight of the Chefette MudDogs Safari Championship for off-road four-wheel-drive vehicles, and a victory is on many a competitor’s ‘bucket’ list. Of the 74 winning drivers and navigators, Leslie Alleyne is on the cusp of claiming a record 10th, having won two as navigator and seven as driver, achieved between 1996 and 2018. Wayne Clarke, the first to claim five wins as navigator in 2010, added another in 2013 to sit second in the Roll of Honour, while Chris O’Neal, who has been the driver for Alleyne’s last five victories, is next in the list.