We thought it'd be more fun to take on a challenge for our holiday rather than lounging around in the sun
(Vocus) January 6, 2009
Banger rallies aren't just for the lads, they're for anyone mad enough to drive across Europe in an old banger bought for £100. That's what David and Sam Cherrill decided to do when they were sitting around on a dull day in February 2008 thinking about their summer plans. And now they've just got back from their 3,500 mile hair-raising round Europe drive, taking in the Scally Rally 2008, "Road 2 Rimini."
"We thought it'd be more fun to take on a challenge for our holiday rather than lounging around in the sun," said Sam who works at her family's refrigeration business. "I knew David loves these types of rallies and it seemed like a good idea to join him and ride shotgun."
Preparations for the rally began almost as soon as the decision to go was made. As you'd expect from a 1985 C Registered Volvo 340 GL bought for £100 there was plenty of repair work to do to make it safe - a new set of tyres for starters. Fred, as David and Sam's car became known, was then subjected to an eye-catching respray of bright orange and green, fitted with a new shiny exhaust and a funky hand crafted beer-can roll cage.
Masses of other cosmetic modifications followed and ongoing repairs kept David (and his friends) out of mischief throughout the spring and summer. In the spirit of the Scally Rally car parts are begged and borrowed and bought on the cheap - every effort is made to keep costs down. One evening David retired to his bedroom and came down with a spoiler covered in crazy 'Smarties' sticky back plastic! At that point Sam thought he might be "losing it" but had to admit the spoiler looked rather smart once it was bolted onto Fred.
"What's nice about the Scally Rally is that at the same time as we're all having fun we're actually raising money for charity," says David. "We chose to drive in memory of Darren Roger Clarke who died in 2004 at the age of 19 from a rare form of bone cancer and the money we raised went to The Teenage Cancer Trust."
David works for HIC (Herts Insurance Consultants) in Bishop's Stortford and was contacted by the local radio station to join their Black Thunder traffic reports before the rally. "That was really good fun," said David. "It gave me a chance to show off the car and tell everyone about the charity aspect. Darren's father heard the broadcast and rang to see if we would do the rally in memory of his son who was a huge motor rally fan. You can see pictures of Darren on my blog Seat of Your Pants Mechanics."
HIC has a special interest in the Scally Rally. It insured 50 out of the 80 teams competing and has developed a special insurance package for these types of rallies making it easy and affordable for entrants to get short term cover on their 'wacky' racers.
At last on Thursday 11th September David and Sam were off on the ferry to Calais ready for the official start on Friday morning for the first leg through France to Basel, Switzerland.
"The rally has a real family atmosphere," says David. "We had lots of challenges to do along the way, things to collect, pictures to take and quizzes to complete. At the end of each day everyone gathers together to see how they've done, swap horror stories and have a few bevvies to celebrate getting through the day."
Highlights of David and Sam's Scally Rally:
- Weather: Horrendous. It rained a lot and there was snow on the mountain passes which made driving conditions very difficult.
- Worst moment: Stuck on a mountain, half way up the Stelvio Pass in Italy. "We parked for a bit of a breather and the engine wouldn't start again for 15 minutes," explains David. "It was a bit of an anxious time as Sam panics easily - she doesn't like heights - so she had visions of us rolling down the 48 hairpins to the bottom. But Fred didn't let us down, with a bit of gentle coaxing the engine coughed back into life."
- Best moment: Crossing the finishing line and meeting up at the hotel for a big celebration party." It was nice to be able to have a proper drink without having to stop early because of driving the next day," says David.
- Silliest moment: Helping a team who had broken down on the way back in an Italian service station and watching them trying to ask for a spark plug wrench in Italian!
- Proudest moment: Coming 7th place overall out of 80.
- Most breath-taking view: "There weren't any views this year," says David. "The weather was so bad that it was a white-out in the mountains. You could only see about 30 feet in front of you."
- Most relaxing time: The ten days meandering back across Europe stopping in San Marino, Germany and Belgium, winding up in Amsterdam for two nights.
- What went wrong: The speedo broke after 71.6 miles so they had to rely on the sat nav for their speed and mileage for the rest of the journey. At least they were luckier than one team that broke down in France on Day One and had to return home.
HIC is the enthusiast's car insurer with a passion for motoring that translates into great deals on car insurance. For more information visit http://www.hertsinsurance.com or call 08451 290290.