> The Origins of Competitive Caravan Rallying


Great National Rally

In the 1930s a tradition grew at Caravan Club rallies (the gathering kind, not the racing kind) for a programme of competitions in which members took part.

Egg and spoon races, sack races and tugs of war were all part of the friendly family fun and encouraged a competitive spirit. Events where adult members could hitch up and demonstrate their towing and reversing skills were also popular, along with competitions to encourage the design of innovative gadgets to improve the caravans. 

Watch Caravan Club members competing in a tug of war during a 1940s social gathering:

The first wholly competitive caravan rally was pioneered in 1938 by a long defunct organisation called the Trailer Caravan Club.

Members of the club gathered on Cheltenham Racecourse and, under strict instructions to stick to the 30mph/48.28kph speed limit, headed off on an 80 mile (128.75 kilometre) road section. Stopping only for an hour along the way, lunch was cooked and eaten in the van. Like early Caravan Club social Rallies, tests for skilful driving and reversing formed part of the competition.

Prizes ranged from those for the oldest competitor to the higest scoring lady. However, the most unusual award by far was that given to the parents completing the route with the youngest child as passenger.

The event drew to a close with a prize giving at the Cheltenham Pump Rooms, followed by a Dinner and Dance. It was the last wholly competitive caravanning rally held until 1954 when The Caravan Club British Caravan Road Rally was born.

See the reversing tests at a Caravan Club social rally in the late 1940s:

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