2020 is the 40th anniversary of the George Woods Rally. It was established in 1980 following George’s untimely death in 1979. Apart from two or three years where conditions conspired against us, it has run every year since.
The George Woods has always been designed to give an opportunity for club members to try rallying using either their road car or the car they use in other types of motorsport. In recent years, the Historic Rally Association introduced a category/class for Standard Cars. The Resto Country Spares Standard Car Class uses the George Woods and similar events. Many of
these cars are showroom standard, using standard seats and seatbelts and without a roll cage. Others have changed or added these items so they can compete in a greater range of events.
2020 sees a significant change to the rules governing low level, introductory types of motorsport. This has meant a lot of behind the scenes work by both volunteer officials and Motorsport Australia staff to see events like the George Woods continue into the 2020s and beyond.
Understandably, Motorsport Australia (formerly CAMS) seeks to ensure the safety of all involved in the sport and have thus mandated the use of Frontal Head Restraint (FHR) devices for most events from 2020 on. This makes it difficult to allow potential new competitors a toe-in-the-water entry into an introductory event like the George Woods.
Standard, unmodified, road cars would need considerable modification before an FHR could be safely used.
After much discussion about how to mitigate the risks of allowing essentially unmodified road cars to participate in rallies, consensus has been reached. This requires the event to be designed to ensure that maximum speeds achieved by crews are actively controlled. Our event will be a Special Stage Rally Regularity. For this type of event (introduced for 2020), times allowed on competitive sections are limited to a maximum average of 70Km/h and crews must not exceed 110Km/h at any time. This minimises the risk, allowing a crew to experience a real rally without going to the expense of roll-cage, special seats, harnesses and FHR. A trade-off is that all crew members must now hold a minimum of a Clubman Rally licence. As this can take some time to organise, get onto the Motorsport Australia website now. You must complete an on-line module and pay the appropriate fee; drivers that are under 25 must also undergo an Observed Licence Test (OLT). An OLT can be done, by prior arrangement, at an autocross or a specially convened OLT day.
While careful selection of roads ensures a fun, competitive event can be run within these speed requirements, all competitors will be required to keep their speed below 110Km/h. The Rally Regularity regulations set severe penalties for exceeding the speed limit. Speeds will be monitored, and the relevant penalties applied.
The George Woods is the first Special Stage Rally Regularity event to be run and Motorsport Australia will be watching closely to ensure the new rules work as intended.
About George Woods…
George Woods competed for many years in all facets of motor sport. At the same time he encouraged others, especially novices, ladies, youngsters and the like to have a go, too. George always used a very standard Peugeot for his motor sport.
George’s Peugeot 403 (and later his 404) went in everything, whether it was a motorkhana, a trial (anything from club event to national championship), an open race meeting (in the early ’70s, you could see George’s 403 fighting Peter Brock for a corner—George proudly wore a tee-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘Ecurie Mobile Chicane’ accompanied by a picture of him and Brockie disputing the same bit of bitumen), a circuit sprint, a hillclimb or an observed section trial. He was an important part of CAMS, being Chairman of the Victorian State Council for several years in the late ’70s; he was awarded CAMS’ Service Award in 1979.
George lived life to the full. As well as motor sport he was passionate about music, particularly jazz. An accomplished musician, he played his guitar at many a function, motor sport or otherwise, either solo or with his group.
George succumbed to a heart attack in 1979. In honour of the man and his enthusiasm for motor sport our event is called the GEORGE WOODS RALLY.
This is the 34th George Woods Rally; as such, it is the longest running introductory event on the calendar and one of the longest running events of any kind. Many of today’s top rally competitors cut their teeth on this event before going on to bigger and better things. While for many other club level competitors it is the only rally they compete in each year.
Please participate in this event in the spirit George always embodied—trying as hard as he could no matter what sort of machinery the rest of the field was running, but above all having fun. If you drive in the event knowing, as George usually did, that you have to drive the same car to work on Monday, you will be able to get a lot of enjoyment out of the sport without needing to be a millionaire. You will also find that with a bit of experience, you will regularly embarrass those with deep pockets but the wrong attitude!
Have Fun, but be safe.
Banner: Michael O’Brien/Scott Liggins, Volvo 240, in the 2019 George Woods. Pic by Paul Mollison