Spadeadam Motor Club are a quality club, from their very roots in rocket science ( I kid you not!) Spadeadam have always been in the Premier League of English car clubs.
Likewise, The Countdown rally has always been a quality event; it has been, from time to time, an event that will mess with even the most intelligent navigators psyche. The roads it runs on are not natural time takers, not say compared to the near neighbouring roads in and around the Lake District; this is where the tricky navigation used to come in.
Jerry Hettrick as always been a good, no excellent navigator, unfortunately he also has a brain that would shame many a professor, the clues and navigation set to take time off crews evolved into being a massive challenge, each year something had to be different, something that would keep the crews pin sharp. Spadeadam started to hear rumblings and receive feedback that the event was becoming too hard. Jerry’s original idea for the Countdown was a cryptic rally with a high average speed, it got to the point that a lot of crews were over total lateness and weren’t returning the following year.
The new Clerk of Course, John Ross, ran last years countdown with Jerry advising, there was a big change in the style of clues offered, and a return to a more traditional “Plot and Bash” format, this year’s event further expands on that by taking the P&B and stretching it further, to make the event even more enjoyable to all levels of crew, but still being able to find a winner. John takes sole control as Clerk of Course this year, and is hoping that his format will appeal to a much broader section of Road rally enthusiasts.
Another change in the Countdown has been the time of year that the event takes place, first run in February as a rule, the mists, downpours and ice and snow associated with that time of the year all contributed to make the event difficult to run, and compete with. Spadeadam tried to change to July, but with the lack of truly dark lanes this gives, it was deemed to be a little risky to run then. So the event has moved to its current date in September, one that the club hopes will see balance restored weather wise, light wise and navigation wise. One thing that does concern the club is the amount of rallies in the same ANCC championship that appear around the same month, it is something Spadeadam are contemplating and maybe another change will happen, time and entries will tell.
The club have had a steady response to entries, but are hoping that once word gets out that a less cryptic and more flowing event is now ‘de rigeur’, that The Countdown will once again become the classic it deserves to be recognised as. This year sees the organisers treat competitors to around 120 miles on the tighter roads in this corner of England and Southern Scotland offer, and as stated previously, the simpler, more relaxed style of navigation on offer hopefully will attract more competitors to the event.
Entries and further information on The Countdown and Spadeadam Motor Club can be found at their excellent website “www.spadeadammotorclub.co.uk” which has recently been taken over by a new member to the club, updated and brought into the 21st Century.
It’s great to see a club, however old and venerable listening to competitors and enthusiasts alike, taking things on the chin and going forward, I hope that Spadeadam make The Countdown a huge success.
Thanks to Barry Lindsay for his time in speaking with me.