I joined RallyForums.com in April of 2006. Since then, I’ve made zero posts. Yeah. You could say I’m a lurker. Forums are the best place to find tech and community, and I want to support forums and communities, but running this site takes so much time, I just can’t be active everywhere. Fortunately, RallyForums sends out a pretty regular email with links to interesting goings on in their community. That’s where I came across Night at the Stages in Letterkenny, Ireland.
Grassroots, clubman level rally all over the world generally needs two things badly – exposure and money. Night at the Stages appeared to tick both boxes, as a social, fundraising event. Straight up, this event looked interesting; the sort of events I’d probably want to attend, personally, so a PM (private message) was sent through the forum to the organizer, Barry Boyle, asking for the interview.
BARRY BOYLE: DOWN BUT NOT OUT
I always start my interviews with introductions: Who are you, where do you live, and what do you do for a living? Barry replied, telling me, “I live in Letterkenny, County Donegal, the heartland of Irish Rallying. By trade I am an electrician, but due to the recent financial crisis my work is non-existent, so I am currently in business with my wife in her florist shop – until she kicks me out.”
MAXIMUM ATTACK MARSHALS CLUB
The event was originally designed to be a fundraiser for Barry’s marshals club, Maximum Attack Marshals Club (check them out on Facebook), but quickly took on a life of its own and blossomed into a kind of end of season rally party. That’s right. This event was organized by a group of guys who work the stages. Here’s what they’re all about.
“Maximum Attack Marshal Club was founded in early 2011. Originally named Tirconnell Marshals Club, which morphed into its current form in April 2012, when the core group came together. To date, we’ve marshaled at various forest and tarmac rallies, hill-climb events, and night navigation rallies across the border in both the north and south of Ireland. We pride ourselves on being truly cross-border and cross-community.”
“We attend both Motorsport Ireland and Motor Sports Association (UK) training events with our core group, are trained to Stage Commander level, and are proud to be card carrying members of the Motorsport Marshalling Partnership. Our travels have given us the chance to meet all the famous drivers and co-drivers who endorse the club and the job that we do. From those rallies, we have been asked to marshal further afield – Jim Clark, Isle of Man, Cork – to name but a few. In the future we hope to build on the excellent work of our marshals and take on bigger roles at rallies.”
WHY “NIGHT AT THE STAGES?”
Simply enough, Barry told me, “I need radios, first aid equipment, a bunch of training for the members, and some way to subsidise transport costs for the events that are not local. The fundraiser was a way to gather up me cash.” Night at the Stages is a fund-raiser, then. That makes sense, but what’s in it for attendees? What should people expect from this event?
“We held the event on a Saturday night. It started at 9pm, had everyone in and seated by 10, served up some finger food (wings, cocktail sausages, spicy wedges, sandwiches, and the like), then Mr. Alan ‘Plum’ Tyndall got into his interviewing chair. I had lined up some of the past, present and future stars from Irish rallying which went down incredibly well, and we had a raffle for some rally related spot prizes, followed with live music and dancing. It went on until 4am.”
PLUM? PAST, PRESENT, & FUTURE STARS OF IRISH RALLYING?
As much time as I spend virtually traveling the world for these interviews, there’s only so much one person can keep up with. I asked Barry to help me out. Who is Alan ‘Plum’ Tyndall and why was he in the interviewing chari? “He’s the long time presenter of the Irish TV show RPM [check out the RPM YouTube channel – bd]. He is the voice of Irish Motorsport. For as long as I can remember, whenever I heard his voice, there was a rally or a race on the TV.”
“Past masters on the night were James Cullen, the last Donegal man to win the Donegal International and Rory Kennedy, co-pilot to the late Bertie Fisher. Current stars were Garry Jennings, fast becoming a legend on the stages here, and Mark Fisher, Bertie’s nephew, who competes in the British Rally Championship and the European Rally Championship, (previously the IRC). Future stars included Barry McGill, current club champion, and Connor Harvey, last year’s club champion. Both lads are supremely talented.”
This being the first time this event was held, Barry had no idea who or how many would turn out. He even faced a little skepticism from people who thought he couldn’t pull it off or thought it wouldn’t be a good time. “I’m glad to say they were wrong on both counts,” he said. In the end, they had around 150 people attend – some of which weren’t even rallyists – and Barry was well pleased with that, as he’d only pitched the event to the rally community.
GRAND PRIZE SUCCESS
I asked Barry about the prizes given away at Night at the Stages and whether or not the event achieved its purpose – to raise money for MAMC. “All prizes on the night were aimed at rally men, from the smallest gallon of oil right up to the signed framed rally shirts,” he told me. “On the night, we had the Harvest Stages entry as grand prize. It’s worth €495, but made us just over €800.” Sounds like a success any way you slice it!
“And yes, next years event is already in the works,” says Barry. “When I started the club, it was simply to give something back to the sport that has given me so much over the last thirty years, but in the last twelve months it has become something more; something bigger than I ever imagined. It’s like we have been brought into the heart of the rally community here in Ireland, which brings our club motto to life, We don’t do rally. WE ARE RALLY.”
THIS IS RALLY.
Grassroots, clubman level rally all over the world generally needs two things badly – exposure and money – but neither of those matter without people. Despite the odds and the naysayers, Barry and team rolled up their sleeves and rolled out the red carpet for the Irish rally community. This merry band of marshals brought everyone together, put on one hell of a show, and raised enough money to keep Maximum Attack Marshals Club operating like a well-oiled machine.
Keep going fast with class, MAMC, and press on regardless.