Ripon Motor Sport Club History
Ripon Motor Sport Club came into existence in July 1967, when a group of motoring and motorsport enthusiasts got together in the Magdalens pub in Ripon with the aim of forming a local motor club, rather than having to travel some 20 plus miles to join an established club. One of the first aims of the club was to gain RAC recognition to which it eventually did in 1968 once membership reached the minimum level for recognition. From the outset the club ran a mixture of autotests, production car trials, treasure hunts and 12 car rallies, however as membership continued to rise it was decided that the time had come to organise a larger event, and in November 1969 the first Riponian Rally was run. Another significant event of 1969 was the opening of the clubs own licensed club house, after members had worked for several months converting two old cottages
Throughout the 1970’s the club continued to thrive and expand, with members regularly competing and marshalling on a wide variety of events throughout the North of England, and occasional forays to events in Europe. In 1971 the club was given a stage to run on the RAC Rally for the first time, only for the stage to be cancelled due to the heavy snow which started to fall during the day, this being the year of the event featured in the film ‘From Harrogate it started. The club continued to run stages on the RAC, as well as other events through out this period. Not only did the club thrive in the motor sport area but it also had a lively social side, with barbeques, fancy dress parties and an annual dinner dance with such luminaries as Stuart Turner and Phil Short among the guest speakers. By the mid seventies the club had outgrown its current clubhouse and larger premises were sought, and eventually acquired, during these years the Riponian Rally continued to run successfully attracting capacity entries. In 1972 a second major rally was added to the club calendar to coincide with Ripon’s annual Feast of St Wilfrid, and the St Wilfrid’s Rally was born. Through out its existence the club has also had a close association with other local clubs and bodies and in the mid seventies began supplying the timekeepers for the Knaresborough Bed Race, a tradition it continues today.
The 1980’s saw the club continue to flourish in all areas of motor sport, with many noteworthy competitive successes including Ron Beecroft winning the Motoring News Rally Championship on three occasions, 1981 &1985 with John Millington and 1987 with Mike Kidd. The Riponian and St Wilfrid’s road rallies continued to be the clubs flagship events, however with road rallies becoming more and more regulated the club decided that a move away from road rallies for one of these events should take place, and thus in 1988 the Riponian was run for the first time as a special stage rally, whilst the St Wilfrid’s adapted to the new regulations and continued as a road rally. During the eighties the club added timekeeping of the annual mountain bike trial held at Lightwater Valley to its ex-curicular activities.
The new regulations relating to road rallies that came into effect in 1989 had a major influence on the club during the nineties, with many competitors giving up the sport as the new style events no longer appealed, this resulted in a slight fall in membership, but the club adapted to the new rules and continued to run the St Wilfrid’s Rally, as well as auto-tests, and small club rallies. The Riponian Rally, now running as a special stage rally continued to be a popular event in the Northern rally calendar initially running on farm tracks and military land, this popularity increasing when the club was granted access to Forestry Commission roads in 1995. Socially the club continued to provide a wide variety of functions.
Whilst the motorsport activities of the club continued to flourish with the Riponian and St Wilfrid’s rallies retaining their popularity, the club suffered a major blow to its social activities when due to a major re-development in Ripon, meant that the club house that it had occupied for thirty years had to be demolished. The 4th July 2007 saw many of those attended the inaugural meeting back in 1967 gather at the Magdalens pub when the club held a forty year celebration of its founding. 2009 also saw the running of the 40th anniversary Riponian Rally, even though the event had to be delayed by one month due to heavy snow around its traditional date, which was rather apt as the first running in 1969 was also affected by heavy snow.