The Jaguar Drivers' Club of Australia Mountain Rally
As an alternative to the Jaguar National Rally in Perth at Easter 1990, the JDCA decided to have a long weekend drive in the country for those not attending the Perth event. Well supported with over 100 people, it took in major secondary roads down through the South Coast, over Browns Mountain near Bega through to Cooma thence Jindabyne.
It was such a success that it spawned the idea of a week-long event touring back country roads of NSW encouraging members to get their classic vehicles out of the garages to enjoy exercising them on a long drive on roads many had not encountered before. Thus was born the idea of the Mountain Rally.
With seed funding from the JDCA, a small committee was established to plan an event starting in 1991. This committee expanded the original idea to encompass a competitive navigational rally in the style of 1960’s rally events and extend invitations to other car clubs to have their members participate. The idea of a fully organised drive in the country proved to be so popular that over 100 cars eventually entered, far surpassing the original expectations.
One of the JDCA members pitched the idea of some sponsorship to one of his contacts at REPCO and its then Chief Executive, who happened to be a member of the Victorian Jaguar Club and owned a Mk2, thought it was such a good idea that he approved sponsorship to the tune of $10,000. This increase in budget permitted a much more professional approach and resulted in the club being able to provide uniforms for officials in REPCO’s corporate colours of black and red as well as better quality road signs. It also allowed for more time and money to be spent on rally route preparation. Another member, who was working in Australian Touring Car Championship event management with Shell, organised for one of their Dick Johnson race car transporters to accompany the rally to house participants luggage. Shell also provided one of their event promotional vehicles to glamourise the starts and finishes along with fuel credit cards for officials.
The cars were set to leave Parramatta Park in Sydney and travel the first day via a circuitous route to Singleton. The difficult nature of this style of navigational event was not really communicated properly beforehand and many participants found it extremely challenging. This was abundantly evident during the first night’s dinner when there was much angst expressed but it was all smoothed over when all were assured that it would be easier from then on.
The route then took participants through to Bathurst where an all-day sporting event was held on various sections of the Mount Panorama racetrack. Next day it was off to Canberra where, after an overnight stay, the old police driver training track was used for another all-day sporting event. Thence to Goulburn for another overnight stay before the final day’s route to the official finish at Flagstaff Point in Wollongong. A formal presentation dinner was held in a marquee at the Point with the local mayor as well as the Federal Senator for the area, Michael Baume, as special guests who helped the Chief Executive of REPCO, who had run in the rally, present the awards.
Such was the overall success of this inaugural event, and its wide publicity in all the towns visited, both REPCO and Shell not only continued but increased their sponsorship for the next four years. A financial success for the JDCA also which continued through the running of annual week-long events until 1998. From about 1995 entrant numbers were waning and the idea of having just a weekend portion of the rally, the Mini-Mountain Rally, was initiated. Proving very successful in gaining more entrants, this continued through to the demise of the week-long events in 1998. A weekend only Rally has continued on an irregular basis since then as a Touring only event, with no serious navigation.
The original concept of the Mountain Rally was therefore resurrected!
A list of the week-long Rallies is shown below with main daily destinations shown. It could be said that there are very few roads in NSW that have not been used at least once.
1991 Parramatta Singleton Bathurst Canberra Goulburn Wollongong
1992 Parramatta Canberra Tumut Bathurst Medlow Bath
1993 Parramatta Goulburn Canberra Wagga Parramatta
1994 Melbourne To Parramatta
1995 Eastern Creek Goulburn Wagga Wodonga Canberra Goulburn Parramatta
1996 Eastern Creek Hunter Valley Port Macquarie Armidale Tamworth Mudgee Parramatta
1997 RACA (Macquarie Street) Singleton Leura Bathurst Tumut Parkes Bathurst RACA
1998 Windsor Nowra Goulburn Cowra Goulburn Windsor Parramatta
Chris Haigh April 2022
‘Team Fig Jam’, car number 3, is flagged-away at the start of the 1997 Mountain Rally organized by the JDCA under Rally Director Chris Haigh. This 7th event was sponsored by The Royal Automobile Club of Australia (RACA) and conducted over 7 days (19-25 July). Course setters Ken Philp and Tony Galletly plotted a route incorporating the Blue Mountains, the Central West, the South-West Slopes and the Riverina. A short-course rally event was also held in 1997, coinciding with the longer event. ‘Team Fig Jam’, crewed by driver/owner Geoff Bott and navigator Mark Laidlay.
Jaguar Mountain Rally Artwork by Brian Caldersmith