The new owners of the AASA-sanctioned Australian Tarmac Rally Championship are determined to enrich the experience for competitors, enthusiasts and regional communities as part of their plan to rejuvenate the domestic tarmac rallying scene.
Earlier this year, passionate event organisers Pam Stables and Brittany Smith formed the Australian Tarmac Rally management company and purchased the rights to the championship from the Peter Washington-owned Mountain Motorsports organisation.
Both Smith and Stables have a wealth of experience and knowledge in the tarmac rally scene. Smith formerly worked for Targa Australia (which promotes Targa Tasmania, among other events), working across a variety of roles including competitor administration, event promotion and community/government liaison, while Stables has competed in tarmac rally events as both a driver and a navigator as well as working as the competitors manager at Targa Australia.
Smith and Stables are both committed to taking Mountain Motorsports’ proven tarmac rally events – Great Tarmac Rally, Mt Baw Baw Sprint, Lake Mountain Sprint and Snowy River Sprint – and improving on them.
“I left Targa Australia last year and I saw an opportunity with Pete’s events – he’s created a popular product so there are some solid foundations for us to build upon,” Smith said.
“Pete has had a lot of experience running these events and we still rely on his expertise for some of the operational aspects, but we’ve identified areas we can improve.
“We want to ensure there’s consistency of staff at each event, so we’ve employed some full-time personnel who will attend all of our tarmac rallies – a clerk of course, an official photographer and a competitor relations officer.”
“We also wanted to lift the presentation and professionalism with our digital platforms,” Stables added.
“We’ve created a new website and refreshed our social media channels; we’ve also set up a new online entry system to make it simpler for competitors to enter our events.
“There are other things we’re working on, such as Australian Tarmac Rally merchandise, to ensure we’re professionally presented.”
In the past, the Australian Tarmac Rally Championship has taken place over a financial year-based calendar, but Smith says that will change for 2021.
“Because of the COVID situation and the fact that a lot of people are unable to travel interstate due to border closures, we’ve decided to make the 2020 Great Tarmac Rally a non-championship round. Our 2021 championship will consist of four events, starting with the Mt Baw Baw Sprint in February,” she said.
“We are 40 per cent up on team entries for Great Tarmac Rally compared to last year, which is excellent considering the circumstances.
“We do have some plans for some other events moving forward, including the revival of an older event.
“In the meantime, it’s a good opportunity to look at our current events and see what we can do to revitalise them. There are some improvements we can make by rejigging some of our courses to allow more competitors to attend, as well as setting up safe areas for spectator viewing.”
Stables said one of the challenges of running tarmac rally events is balancing the economic benefits for regional towns with the inconvenience of public road closures.
“We like going to country towns because it’s great for their local economy in terms of tourism; one of our considerations is managing the closures of public roads to minimise disruption to residents, but we’re fortunate to have a lot of support from the relevant authorities in this regard.”
Australian Tarmac Rally will continue its affiliation with the AASA, extending a previously existing relationship from when the championship was managed by Mountain Motorsports.
“AASA has been fantastic – (business manager) Stephen Whyte and his team are very accommodating of all our requests and have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to tarmac rally events. We’re very pleased to continue working with them,” Stables said.
The Great Tarmac Rally will be held on 5-6 December.