Jun 18, 2019

Off the Beaten Track: Car Rallying

Car rallying is a form of motorsport where modified production or specially built road-legal cars compete on both public and private roads, run in a point-to-point format. The participants drive between pre-decided control points to create stages within the rally. Winning the rally is not through racing against competitors, as participants start off in a staggered way, one after the other. Victory is either purely based on speed or on maintaining a predetermined ideal journey time between different control points or stages.

The History

The Paris-Rouen Horseless Carriage Competition or Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux is the closest we have on record to the "first rally race in history". It was organised in the year 1894 and sponsored by the Paris newspaper Le Petit Journal. This event garnered appreciation and interest from spectators and leading car manufacturers alike, and became the predecessor to many city-to-city races within France and across Europe.

World Cup Rallies

During the world-war years, rallying faced a lull due to the massive destruction across Europe but since the end of World War II, it has steadily spread and grown beyond Europe's boundaries to the rest of the world.


Intercontinental Rallying is another outcome of this very spread. The London-Sydney Marathon held in the year 1968 was not the beginning, but can be called the rebirth of Intercontinental Rallying. It was a direct answer to the demand for longer and tougher events. After this rally received acclaim, World Cup Rallies were born. The first World Cup Rally was held in 1970, starting in London,  and driving through 10-European countries before taking a ship to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil then driving north and ending up in Mexico City, 40-days and 25,700 km later.

The Types

There are two major types of car rallies: Stage Rallies and Road Rallies. The Stage Rallies have been the professional branch of the sport since the 1960s. These rallies are held on a range of different terrains; from ice and snow to desert sand, from asphalt mountain passes to rough forest tracks. Sometimes, more than one terrain is covered in a single rally, and courses that make competitors experience more than one surface in a single day are much in demand. Stage rallies can also take place in a heavy downpour, in the bitter cold or scorching heat, making for a more unpredictable and exciting course for both participants and viewers.


Because of the different terrains and unpredictable nature of the various stages, these rallies draw a large number of spectators wherever they run, especially in Europe, Asia and Oceania.

Historic Rallying

Historic rallying is a nod to olden times; and an extremely popular version of car rallying in which older cars compete under older rules. Both old and new drivers participate in historic rallying, expanding the range of viewing audiences across interest groups.



Car Rallying today is gradually spreading its reach to different parts of the world and has established its place in video games and movies. While few of us probably have not attended rallies in person, it's almost impossible that you have never caught a glimpse of one on TV or on the news.


With a continuously increasing viewership, flexibility and entertainment quotient for viewers and participants alike, the future of car rallying looks bright! Here's to those who choose to drive off the beaten track!







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