Monday, 5 December 2011

Lancia Stratos in the Dark

Enjoy the sound of a Lancia Stratos approaching through the trees at the Dunscombe Park night stage of the 2011 Roger Albert Clark Rally.


  1. Hi Martin

    I love this blog, these old rally cars are just great. I was looking for your advice though, as you like you i am a petrol head and environmentalist.

    Since a young age i have been around motorsport; cars and bikes. My dad owned a garage and nurtured a love of motorbikes in me. I currently own a Aprilia 660 supermoto and when i'm not at university i work in a Ducati dealership and help with their race outfit.

    However, this year at University, my final year, i have took an Environmental Politics course, taught by Robert Garner. I've always been a 'lefty', i'm president of the University's Amnesty society and a really rubbish socialist, but this course has really put a shift on environmentalism for me. I've even been elected the Unions Environmental Officer.

    Now, i've come home on my christmas break, to my bike, to watching motorsport on the television, and all i feel is guilt. Guilt for the harm my hobby is doing to the environment. My gut instinct is to sell my bike, and give up my one passion i've ever really had.

    My course was very politics based, and infact i have exams in January for it so will be reading even more about the topic. The whole idea that we are too anthropocentric in our dealings with the environment fits easily with my dislike for consumerism. But motorsport seems the complete paradox of all of this.

    Clearly, you are a still a massive fan of rallying, yet you're a very strong environmentalist, more so than i will probably ever be, Human Rights etc is still my main thing. How do you cope with this juxtaposition, have you left rallying as an old archaic passion which has no place in the modern world?

    This probably all comes as very odd, but i've yet to come across as passionate motorsport enthusiast and environmentalist so your advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Please feel free to email me on

    All the best,


  2. James

    You're right that there is a dicotomy between fossil fuel based sports and the environment, and like most people faced with such a dilemma I respond first of all with denial and then with compartmentalism - I don't think about climate change when I'm watching a rally and I don't think about cars when I'm on a demo. I then move on to congitive dissonance, when I point out the carbon footprint of your average Premiership footballer is greater than that of most club rallies.

    However I do sometimes think about it seriously. It helps that I'm a rally fan. F1 is so OTT I doubt it can be rescued.

    My first thought is that when most environementalists less cars and more alternatives they are advocating something they themselves would prefer, so it makes it difficult for them to communicate with ordinary people. I must admit I don't really see the point of commuting on the M25 in a Ford Mondeo, but I do at least appreciate driving a hot hotch on a quiet road.

    Secondly, the eco-footprint of any motorsport event has to be considered as a whole, which means including the spectators as well as the cars on the track. I imagine most are still terrible, but good coach or train links would reduce this more effectively than small cars on the grid.

    Thirdly I'm really not convinced that motorsport needs to go electric, hybrid or anything else low emissions in the hope that it will influence the general public to buy greener cars. Most top end motorsports events, from Touring Cars to World Rally Cars, are little more than silouette events. The link between road cars and race cars went with the demise of Group A. What people watch may look like what they drive from a distance, but nobody expects the cars to be the same under the bonnet. Even people who buy Subaru WRXes don't expect rallying brakes and intercoolers.

    If I have a vision of what motorsports will be like in the future I think of boxing. Maybe in the past boxing audiences settled their differences with their fists, but today they know to keep the fighting in the ring. Maybe in years to come I will drive off to a rally in my newly recharged electric car, but when I get there i hope to hear, see and most of all smell high revving petrol engines being put through the ringer.