With the notable exception of the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, the UK generally falls far behind most European countries in the way that major rallies interact with the communities in which they are based.
There are some encouraging signs as closed road special stages slowly develop on the UK mainland and the Tendring & Clacton and Three Shires events are starting to engage with their communities, to the obvious benefit of the rally and the area in which it is run.
Yet there is a long way to go before a UK event could rival the carnival atmosphere and buzz of the best European events, where whole towns are converted into service areas.
This is particularly true of the rally festival events, where cars and drivers bring out thousands of fans and direct significant amounts of money into the local economy and favoured charities.
These events tend to run to a demonstration format, with crews encouraged to play to the gallery and events like Rally Legend in Italy, Rallye Festival Trasmiera in Spain and the Eifel Rallye Festival in Germany are market leaders. For a taste of what they offer, seek any of them out on YouTube.
Of course, many British crews eagerly support these rallies and long for the chance to take part in a UK event of this style and ambition. Without question, running a rally of this scale on closed public roads in the UK would be a mammoth undertaking, but there are seeds of hope based on several demonstration events now being run here.
So far, all of the action has taken place on demonstration special stages set up on private roads, in the style of the ‘Mickey Mouse’ spectator stages that featured in the Lombard RAC Rally in the 1980s and 1990s.Venues such as Weston Park in Shropshire were used back then and are used again now, on both the Historic Rally Festival and Rally Revival. Meanwhile, the Lombard Rally Bath has endeavoured to rekindle the flavour of the Bath-based RAC Rallies of the 1970s and 1980s in a similar format.
The huge leap is to move away from short stages on private land to longer sections on closed public roads. The spectacle of period rally cars being put through their paces on B-roads in the Cotswolds, the Welsh borders or Yorkshire would be awesome.