Durham Automobile Club History

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Durham Automobile Club History

Durham Automobile Club was formed in 1952 by a group of Motoring enthusiasts who, among other things, liked to take part in the Monte Carlo Rally.

For the next 10 years the Club provided each year several competitors for this prestigious event. For its first 10 years the Club met at the Cock O’ the North Hotel. By the early 60s, as Rallying became more professional, a new range of members evolved, competitive and determined, rather than the “jolly chaps” who started the Club.

After a short period at the Garden House pub, the Club moved to the Salutation at Framwellgate Moor, where it was to remain for the next 20 years. With the rise in popularity of club level motor sport the Club boomed for the next 15 years with membership exceeding 300. The main activities for members, apart from the strong social scene, were Road Rallies and Auto tests, with some members moving on to the highest level.

The 70's

By the middle of the 70s the Club regularly had four or five crews entering the Lombard RAC Rally, with competitors winning Regional and National Championships along the way. In fact, some of the region’s most successful drivers of the last 40 years have been Durham Automobile Club members.

The 80's

By the late 80s club level motor sport started to decline in popularity and with it club membership. Many clubs in the area closed their doors, leaving just the eight that we have today. During this time Durham Automobile Club met at several different venues and for a number of years moved to the Willington area. During this time the mainstay of activity was the Club’s Durham Dales Rally, which has run for 50 years, and a full complement of Auto tests, which attracted people from all over the North East: Russ Swift and son Paul were regular competitors.

More recent years

In more recent years the Durham Dales Rally was held at Nissan and was renamed the Wearside Classic rally in 2013. The Durham Dales Rally lives on today but is now a navigational rally.

In 2014 the Club returned to the Salutation which was still ideally suited for everything the Club did. So it was quite a shock when the Salutation suddenly closed in the summer of 2015, leaving the Club nomadic. At this present time the Club is meeting at the Honest Lawyer at Croxdale.

During the past 70 years the Club has produced many Regional Champions and more than a few National Champions. Club members have taken part in events in many parts of the world: Fred Henderson, Steve Petch and Russell Close won major Championships in the 70s and 80s; while David Henderson won both the Formula Renault Single Seater Racing Championship in 1995 and then the Ford Puma Rally Championship in 2001. These are just a few names but there are many more who have achieved great things at the wheel while being a member of the Durham Automobile Club.

One of the greatest achievements is the success of Richard Pinkney who won the British Auto test Championship in 2013 and then repeated it the following year. This is in a sport that is extremely competitive and covers competitors from all parts of the British Isles. Until recently the Club always promoted an End-of-Season Dinner with the presentation of a marvellous array of awards. However, since the trend is moving away from these sort of evenings, the event has not been held since 2019. People are welcome at any time and can immediately get involved with marshalling and helping in events throughout the North East.

The Club still promotes social events and Auto tests and is still involved with grass roots Rallying.

At various times the club has had four national rallying champions: Steve Petch, Russell Close, Fred Henderson and Guy Wilkes – and it currently boasts, Steven Petch, Fred Henderson, Richard Pinkney, Stephen Petch and David Henderson among its members. 

Durham Automobile Club are a very active club. Its members compete in Stage, Navigational, Historic Rallies, Rallycross, Car Trials, Karting, Circuit Racing and Auto tests.


Below you'll find information on the various disciplines of our club. 

Auto test -               Download pdf
Hill Climb -              Download pdf
Historic -                 Download pdf
Karting -                 Download pdf
Stage Rally -           Download pdf
Navigational Rally -  Download pdf


Please contact the correct person below using the following email durhamautomobileclub@gmail.com

Navigational - Andy Brown
Stage Rallying - Edward Todd
Auto test - Peter Masters
Hill climb - Gordon Dundee
Historic Rally - Gordon Dundee
Circuit Racing and Karting - Martin Hall

Useful Links

Please find some useful links below

Motorsport UK https://www.motorsportuk.org/

Association of North East and Cumbria Car Clubs (ANECCC)  http://www.aneccc.co.uk/

North of England Tarmacadam Rally Championship http://www.nerallychamp.com/  

SG Petch Stage Rally Championship http://www.anecccstagerally.co.uk/