The event - a round of Britain’s three major championships - begins in Filey on Friday evening (from 6pm) and the Pickering panel beater and near neighbour/co-driver Steve Bielby were was all set to go until a spectacular end to the last rally in Cumbria when their ageing but lovingly tended 1980s Mk2 burst into flames.
“It was the Greystoke Stages near Penrith on Sunday and we were going quite well - up to second among the historic cars,” recalls Brown, who expects to celebrate four years in the sport on the Trackrod.
“Then the fuel pipe broke and sprayed petrol everywhere under the bonnet.
“We were lucky as we had got to the finish line of a stage when it went up and the marshals met us with a fire extinguisher.
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“Had it happened in mid-stage I don’t think there would have been much left of the car to bring home!”
The damage has destroyed Brown’s hopes of using the fuel injected engine which has been in the car.
He mused: “The engine we are putting back runs from carburettors, so it’s not as fast but I’ll just have to leave my foot on the throttle a bit longer to make up for it!”
The Trackrod Rally was cancelled last year due to the pandemic but returns with a vengeance as part of the Motorsport UK British Championship for the first time since 2013.
A capacity 180-car entry is expected for the event which also includes competitors in the MRF Tyres BTRDA and Fuchs Lubricants British Historic championships, plus several regional series.
Brown is the reigning Northern Historic Gravel Champion in his beloved Escort and also owns a similar car, once owned by 1977 British Champion Russell Brooks, in which he took victory on the rally stage at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
He admits that his passion for rallying and daytime employment can dovetail nicely and added: “Drivers come to me with cars they have crashed so it gives me plenty of work - I have quite a few regular customers!”
Further back in the running order will be high-spec four-wheel drive Ford Fiestas, VW Polos and a Proton Iris as front-runners Rhys Yates, Osian Pryce and Matt Edwards continue their seven-round battle for the British title, while the nation’s top clubman, in a much wider range of vehicles, also bid for points in the BTRDA series.
The colourful, carefully planned and conducted off-road spectacular acts as a ‘test event’ for Motorsport UK’s bid to return the sport to Forestry England land for the first time since the Covid pandemic hit these shores.
Spectators are welcome (free) at Friday’s ceremonial start and the finish, also along the Filey’s Beach Road on Saturday, from 3pm, while special spectator areas have been set up in Dalby and Cropton forests, sign posted from the A170 Scarborough to Helmsley road.
Tickets must be obtained online via the Rallyyorkshire or TicketCo websites1 beforehand as, due to Covid guidelines, there will be no cash payments available at the entrances.