Inside Revolution: Club Corner with Stockport 061 Motor Club

Wednesday 20 December 2023

One of the oldest Motor Clubs in the country, Stockport 061 is going from strength to strength thanks to its involvement with Regional Associations. Find out more in this month’s Revolution.

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There are not many Clubs that run an annual marshalling competition, but Stockport 061 has been doing so for longer than President Nancy Russell can remember. Many members enjoy standing by a Rally stage almost as much as driving through one, so that prize is one of the most coveted of them all.

“Marshalling is almost as big as competing,” says Russell. “We have a lot of people who want to come marshalling with us, and I never considered that having the championship was a bit unusual, because we have always had it. My niece, Adele, only come into it in the last 12 months or so, but she won the novice championship last year.

“She runs her own business, but you should have seen the look on her face when it was announced she had won at our annual dinner! It really does mean a lot to people. We also have an organisers championship, as we are proud of the number of members who help organise events too.”

The club was founded in 1903 as the New Stockport and District Motor Cycle and Light Car Club and is credited with being the third oldest motorsport Club in the UK. In 2007, it merged with close neighbour High Peak and 061 Motor Club, after the respective chairmen recognised the benefit of combining the two vast pools of knowledge.

One of the reasons is that the Club has made the most of getting involved with Regional Associations. Set up by around fifty years ago, by the forerunner of Motorsport UK, these help Clubs to collaborate with each other, giving strength in numbers, and Stockport 061 is now a member of five – the Northern, North Western, West Midland, East Midlands, and Welsh Associations.

The Club also supports and collaborates with Motor Sport (North West) Ltd., which brings together the resources of several motor clubs to promote a closed road Rally in the North West of England, the proceeds of which go to charitable causes. All these collaborations have worked extremely well to get members engaged at a wider level.

“We are really good at pooling knowledge and resources,” says Russell. “It is not about ‘we are better than you’ which I think it used to be a bit in motorsport. Everybody needs each other and it is good to support and take the workload together. The North West stages, for example, was an amalgamation of North West clubs all working very closely.”

The Club runs two flagship events of its own – the O61 Targa Rally and the SMC Stages Rally at Anglesey – along with occasional AutoSOLOs and monthly navigational scatters. It also has a weekly pub night, pub quizzes and video nights that attract a wider group and an active monthly committee meeting.

Russell, whose husband was an important and long-serving member of the Club until he sadly passed away last year, says: “It is a real family atmosphere. Most members bring along their children, aged from 40s to 10, and having the generations coming through is encouraging other young members to have a go at club night events, which is great.

“Hopefully we will be able to keep that going, because a lot of the time in motorsport you do not get many young people joining, particularly when it comes to the marshalling side of things. We do Targa rallies and Historic marshalling, so the children can come to those and 13- or 14-year-olds can have a go as Cadet Marshals.

“It worries me that the average age of marshals is going up and up and up and every Rally is calling out for marshals. That is why I am proud that we get the younger people out doing it with us. We also have wheelchair users marshalling, competing, and organising club events.

“We thrive on training up new interested members and enjoy when questions are asked, and they want to learn. Most of us are, or have been, navigators and that helps make good marshals because it is so different when you know what is happening in the car. I think that is why we have so many great Clerks of the Courses and Stage Commanders.

“We do so much marshalling on every level, but running whole stages in closed road stage rallies is what we seem to have become known for. Organisers come to us, and we go from one big event to another. Sometimes I look at the team and realise what great experience we have. That makes me so proud.”

The Club’s annual dinner is always well attended and works as a celebratory get-together as well as a good basis to review the year and move forward to the next. It also attracts old members, joining the event for a reunion, sitting alongside current competitors and marshals.

The Club held a special event to celebrate its 120th anniversary earlier this year, where the guest of honour was European Rally Champion Chris Ingram, who started his motorsport journey with the Club, and whose family is still well connected to it.

“I went around with a wandering microphone and was pulling people out of the audience to talk with them,” she recalls. “We had stories from an eclectic mix of members, old and new, including father and daughter AutoSOLO competitors, road rally competitors, as well as Chris and his dad.

“One thing that is important for me is that we are not all out in big R5s, we also have members doing low-key Road Rallying. We aim to support with any form of motorsport – a lad came a few weeks ago, for example, wanting to do our Targa Rally and we helped him understand what happens and what he needed to do.

“We have supported Chris Ingram when he has fundraised in pursuit of his rallying goal. His father Jonathan joined the Club in the 70s, around the same time as I did, and we are still encouraging Chris to come and marshal in our stage in the Cambrian this year – because we think anyone can learn a huge amount from marshalling!”

Continue reading this month’s Revolution