Changing the Blue Book

First published May 2016.


You may have heard this story before, but in case not ….

I have long been proud to have caused some wording in the MSA Blue Book to have been amended – it was 45 years ago and the words are still there today!

The relevant clause is as follows:

R 15.1.1. They must also report to the final control, if not an MTC, within the maximum lateness specified, with the same crew in the same car in which they started. 

Before the incident which triggered the change it said nothing about the same crew and same car!  Will Sparrow and I were competing in the Shenstone night road rally, a BTRDA round, in late 1970.  We had broken down (transmission failure on the Mini) while leading, about 15 miles and 3 or 4 controls before the finish, which was at a hotel in Aberystwyth.  I ran a mile or so to the nearest A road and hitchhiked into Aberystwyth with our Time Card and booked into the final control in the hotel – I think I was lucky to get a lift with a returning marshal (it must have been about 5am).

No-one could find any rule which had been broken so we qualified as finishers (Will was still stuck with the broken car out in the lanes!) with 3 or 4 fails but as it was a tough rally we still came about 15th and got some BTRDA points which enabled us to clinch the Silver Star Championship for the year!

I think Mike Broad was a Steward on the rally and he followed it up with the RAC afterwards and the Blue Book was amended, which stands to today (45 years later!).

As an afterthought, the Blue Book is often criticised as being difficult to ‘read’ and in need of a total re-write – but there are probably good reasons like my instance above why many of the wordings used got to be there in the first place – they are to address issues and close loopholes which have arisen in the past.  It has ‘grown like Topsy’ but it would be very challenging and potentially risky to attempt a re-write.

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