Michael McMichael (so good they named him twice) rang me yesterday. “Have you thought about the Midnight Sun Rally?” he asked. “No,” I said. “Nor have I thought about a Coopers enema, buying an electric car or your gout, which you keep insisting is man flu of the big toe.”
MM: “Well, you should think about it. It starts at Orebro Truckstop in a couple of weeks. There’s only one old Beemer in it. Nearly every competitor has a name like Svensen, Forsberg. Bjornberg or Hellqvist and the driver in the historic rally section must be born in 1979 or earlier, which means I just squeak in.”
The last time I rallied in Scandinavia was in 2013 and it didn’t end well. Tom Connolly and I hired a couple of huskie teams, a Finnish national hero, Pasi Ikonen, as navigator and spent a week roaming around the Arctic Circle dodging low-flying number twos, having our nether regions stuck to outdoor toilet seats and trying to survive blizzards, no light and eating reindeer meat at least six times a day.
As I wrote at the time: “Despite the limitations of the sun, our guide decided real men sled at night. Thundering through the dark holding on for grim death to a bamboo sled has a lot of consequences not the least of which is your inability to see the flying number twos coming from running huskies. Talking of which trying to do a number one has its risks.
“Given they tell you not to expose your fingers because they will get frost bite and fall off, it gives you second thoughts about getting your number one machine out and making the snow yellow. The alternative makes you feel warm for a while then quite sticky. Best solution is just not to go at all. Let’s see how long Tom and I can hold out for.” Not surprisingly, the boss has deleted the original article but email me for the uncensored version, but certainly not for the kiddies.
Mick has just returned from the Old Dart where, as you would expect, he was painting the official fully clothed portrait of Meg, Harry and baby Archie. What you might not know or expect is that, he is actually quite fluent in Swedish as a result of reading the labels on bottles of Absolut, Crystal Head and Avy. “Do you know the Swedes first used vodka to make gunpowder and medicine?” he yelled down the phone from the corner bar of the Kensi where he had switched from Swedish vodka to Whistler Get in My Belly Grenache from the Barossa.
“I have to make this call quick. I’m running out of coins and these STD (note for younger readers: the STD Mick is referring to is not what you and your millennial friends get from horizontal folk dancing but subscriber trunk dialling, which is a telephone system that allows subscribers to dial trunk calls without operator assistance) calls are bloody expensive. I’ve just had a chat with Kungliga Automobil Klubben secretary-general Wilhelm Douglas and Bill tells me that the 2019 competition will be a tribute to one of Sweden’s best ever rally drivers, Stig Blomqvist, who was born and raised in Orebro. Bill also said the Midnattssolsrallyt (showing off there, Mick) shall provide participants, audience and partners a unique experience of classic rally cars on nice and well-kept Swedish gravel rally roads under safe conditions.’’
Then I had a yak to Stig himself who is pumped for Midnattssolsrallyt. In my exclusive interview he said (in Swedish): ‘‘To be able to show my hometown during the Midnight Sun Rally with the castle in the city centre of Orebro for all participants and guests will of course be great fun.”
Unlike 90 per cent of the other entrants, Stig will not be driving a Volvo. Sensibly, he has chosen a Porker with Robert Jakobsson sitting beside him. Also driving a Porker will be Jeff David with Autohaus Hamilton owner Grant Geelan reading the pace notes. If I remember right, his Porker is a 1970 model built for the London to Sydney Marathon and since taking it over has had about a million podiums.
Anyway, the question for your WART team is: Do we head to Sweden where the government owns all the booze shops at the last moment and try and snatch victory from Stig and Jeff or do we concentrate our efforts on the Historic Leyburn Sprints where the sun sets at a reasonable time and the government doesn’t own the Leyburn Hotel? Friends and readers, you know the answer.
A lot of you emailed in your nominations for the most famous car of all time.
The winners of their names in the paper are: Jim Baxter for suggesting the 105E Anglia in the Harry Potter movie The Chamber of Secrets; Bill Linkson for the “Leyland P76 ‘deluxe’ (with tow bar!) in the Aussie trucker movie Roadgames 1981 — what a beast!” and the man who refuses to see reality (that’s why he lives in Brissie) Pete Mathews, who went for an Alfa, in this case the Alfetta GTV6 driven by Roger Moore in Octopussy.
In case you were wondering (and if you’re not I’m going to tell you anyway), your WART Nissan Pulsar, proudly supplied and partly driven by Phil Alexander of RaceAway Track Time with Shane Fowler of Shane Signs, Dion Pangalos, our token attempt at diversity, and yours truly were running second in the four-hour, very wet, cold and snow-covered Cheap Car Challenge at the Pheasant Wood Circuit.
After the lunch break (the best homemade pies this side of Orebro), the car started regularly spinning for some reason and we ended up a creditable seventh.