‘Large influx expected for local rally’ read the headline over John Greene’s report on the launch of the Midland Motor Club Rally which appeared in the Longford Leader, edition of March 14, 1997. And as the club prepares to launch the 2017 Moto Stages Rally in the Longford Arms Hotel, tonight, Thursday, March 16, the Leader took a trip back in time to twenty years ago.
Here is the 1997 launch report from the Longford Leader - “Over 100 cars are expected to start the Midland Motor Club’s second annual single stage rally on Sunday week, March 23, and organisers of the event have been working overtime in recent weeks to have everything in readiness for what is one of the biggest events on the county’s sporting calendar.
“A large influx of people is expected into Longford town on the day, while local interest will also be piqued by the involvement of several local crews in the rally, which will be held over 10 miles of closed in the Ardagh-Moydow area of the county.
“Already, entries received are in excess of sixty crews, but by the time the first car zooms off from the starting point near Kenagh village that number will have significantly increased. Competitors are only allowed one practice run on the morning of the rally and drivers are not allowed on the stage prior to the event.
“The event is organised and promoted by the Midland Motor Club and last week the club invited sponsors, competitors, interested parties and residents from the 153 houses along the 10-mile stretch to a function in the Annaly Hotel to announce details of the event.
“Crews’ preparations begin in earnest on the eve of the race, when (from 6 to 9.30pm) there will be a mechanical scrutiny of cars at the Tool Centre on the Athlone Road. On Sunday morning the scrutiny continues from 8am to 10am.
“Cars will leave the Industrial Estate in Longford to drive out to the starting point of the stage near Kenagh and by 11.20 the first car is expected away for practice. Each competitor gets a starting time and cars are let go at 30-second intervals.
“At the end of the stage, competitors get their finishing times and return to service their cars and do any repairs required and then it is back out to the stage where the whole process is completed for the second and third time.
“The first cars are due back at the finishing line around 5.30pm and prize giving to the winners in the various classes will take place in the Annaly Hotel at 8pm. Marshals are required for Sunday’s event, and all enthusiasts are requested to help out in whatever way possible. Anyone interested should contact Sean Cahill or Eoin Longworth. Interested persons are also invited to attend marshal training on Thursday night of this week in the Annaly Hotel.
“To organise a major event such as this, Midland Motor Club has relied heavily on sponsorship. “It’s the sponsors that actually make it possible to run such a large event,” said one of the Clerks of Course Noel Farrell (the other is Cyril Rollins) at last week’s launch.
“The main sponsors of this year’s single stage event are as follows: The Annaly Hotel, Rapid Print, Longford Oil, Sean McGoey, The Market Bar, Camlin Filling Station and Longford Auto Factors.”