Mick Smith the co-driver returns to scene of wasp attack!
Killarney native Mick Smith returned to co-driving duties for the first time in years on Saturday’s (October 31) Cotswold Stages in England.
Smith, who is originally from High St Killarney, is the long-serving chairman of London Irish Motor Club.
He contested Saturday’s rally, one of the few to go ahead in Britain this year, alongside David Dockree in a Talbot Sunbeam.
Smith and Dockree fielded a two-car team on last year’s Killarney Historic Rally.
Last month, Smith made his only appearance of the year when he drove his Chrysler Avenger on the CAR-nival Stages in Oxfordshire. On that occasion Dockree acted as co-driver and Smith returned to favour on Saturday’s rally which took place at Down Ampney, near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.
It is so long since Smith took part in a rally as a co-driver he could not remember the last time.
Down Ampney is a notorious slippery venue in the summer, not to mind after days of relentless rain in western England.
“I have not sat in the navigator seat since God knows when. I made a couple of schoolboy errors, one of which was not spotting to extra clock after end of stage showing us our next stage arrival time,” he said,”No real drama but due to this Corona [there is] absolutely no contact or paperwork so I messed up that one. We just looked at car in front and followed him so all was OK.”
Smith could be forgiven for such an error, the new clock was in place to prevent timekeepers from handling time cards in these COVID-19 times and more experienced co-drivers would not be prepared for such a move.
The rally was run in very difficult conditions and had a high attrition rate.
“Weather was atrocious, all areas flooded so windows stayed up all day and don’t ask how dangerous it was when we caught cars or merged,” he added.
Still, it was better than his last visit to the venue, 20 years ago, when he got stung by a wasp.
“I swore 20 years ago I would never go back there after being bitten by a wasp,” he said.
“On a positive note, the entry was full within two hours of opening. Of about 120 initial entries only 55 finished. Serious damage done. Dave’s Vauxhall-engined Sunbeam was on fuel injection [for the first time] [and it] went really and he drove well in the conditions.”