The year 1997 marked a big step in history for the 63 Car Club as this was the year that the Speyside Stages was organised as a non-championship round. Scottish Rally Championship stewards observed the organising and running of the rally which after great success seen it’s inclusion in the Championship for the following year. The inaugural event was eventually won by Sandy Dalgarno and Martin Forrest. An iconic moment was also the first appearance of an Ford Escort WRC on Scottish soil, driven as course car by Brian Lyall who went on that year to win the Scottish Rally Championship.
1999 saw the introduction of the special stage around the usually peaceful Cooper Park in the centre of Elgin. In its very first year almost 3000 spectators viewed the cars tackle the tight perimeter road around the park. After the first year being such a success for both competitors and spectators it remained on the events plans until a brief break in 2013 for two years while local flood works took place.
In 2015 event Clerk of Course Neil Shanks spoke to local newspaper the Northern Scot saying, “It’s absolutely fantastic that the event will return to Cooper Park once again. It’s not only a tricky test for the drivers, who will have to take on the short stage at speed, but it’s great for the spectators and families who can watch the action on their doorstep right in the heart of the town centre.”
Over the years the now McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages has seen some very special guests. One name in particular was the 1995 World Rally Champion Colin McRae who pushed a Ford Puma to it’s limits during the 2001 rally. The following year seen two iconic TV presenters from the newly formed Fifth Gear, Vicki Butler Henderson and Tiff Needell, rallying for the first time in both their motorsport careers. Other familiar faces included Robbie Head and Matthew Wilson.
The event has changed over the years with different stages, different competitors, minor changes to the organising team, adapting to rule changes and now a different date of the 23rd of April 2016. One constant has been the passion, hard work and dedication by the organising team to ensure the Speyside Stages is a high quality and enjoyable event.