What is AMSAG?
The Australian Motor Sport Action Group (AMSAG) is a nonprofit association with 500+ members which conducts and manages motor rallies throughout country New South Wales for its members. AMSAG is an incorporated association under the Associations Incorporation Act (NSW) 1984 and as such operates in accordance with a set of rules and regulations approved both by the Department of Fair Trading and its members. Importantly, being a member based organisation, the rules and regulations, including the specification requirements for competing cars, is determined via direct input of the members. AMSAG members come from various walks of life, split equally between the country and the city. AMSAG has a duly elected executive committee supported by a competitor based rally steering committee and event directing teams selected for each of its Events. AMSAG was incorporated in 1994 but has been in existence since 1990. For many years, AMSAG has conducted the Southern Cross Rally Series for its members to compete in.
AMSAG has 2 primary objectives.
1. To provide safe and enjoyable rallies for the members of AMSAG in a social but competitive atmosphere.
2. To provide a variety of opportunities for people to learn life saving advanced driving and defensive driving techniques.
What is the Southern Cross Rally Series?
Crews compete throughout the year accumulating points towards Series and Class Awards for both drivers and navigators. As the year progresses the competition becomes fast and furious as crews vie for trophies in what is now a well know and prestigious Series. AMSAG is the registered owner of the name Southern Cross Rally Series in NSW, and strives to have its rallies match the excitement and competition of those “hey days” of rallying epitomised by the international Southern Cross Rally which was run between the 1960’s and 1980’s in some of the same forests AMSAG use for competition today. The vehicle eligibility rules allow for nearly every configuration of rally car that a competitor could present. All vehicles are carefully scrutinised before each event by qualified and approved personnel to ensure the vehicles meet AMSAGâ€™s stringent safety requirements. The rallies provide a challenge for both the driver and navigator and rely upon the skill, concentration and stamina of the driver and navigator and the reliability and capability of the competing vehicle. The rallies are set through a great variety of terrain which varies from fast open shire roads to medium paced hardwood forests and slower, tighter pine forests. Stages are run in daylight and some at night, so a variety of skills are learned. Rallying is often considered as the most difficult of sports to succeed at as there are just so many factors that affect the opportunity to win. However, our top drivers, some former State and Australian Rally Champions, set the benchmark for others to aspire to, and are always available to help with advice on technique or vehicle preparation.
Rallying the AMSAG way
Experienced rally competitors and organisers that are new to AMSAG will find some differences with the approach and management of AMSAG rallies. Importantly, this does not mean that there is any disregard for the safety of competitors, officials, spectators or the public, or a lax approach to stage security. On the contrary, and surprisingly for some, there are numerous aspects where AMSAG rallies lead, particularly in the areas of safety and communication.
In fact, AMSAG prides itself on its outstanding safety record over the last 25+ years. AMSAG specifically caters for the huge market of amateur rally competitors that just want to enjoy their rallying in a safe, sociable and cooperative environment without onerous vehicle regulations and the associated penalties. The absence of Late Time Penalties or the need to book into start controls provide a relaxed environment without compromising safety or the thrill of competition once on the special stage. The lower entry fees mean that AMSAG events provide exceptional value for money for competitors, and the catering provided to all officials mean that AMSAG rallies continue to enjoy large competitive fields that have many enthusiastic officials. The relaxed vehicle regulations provide competitors the opportunity to engineer their cars in challenging and unique ways. The regulations also produce a huge variety of cars with different engine combinations. As a result, spectating at AMSAG rallies is always a fast and thrilling experience.
History of AMSAG
It has long been said that the original AMSAG members were cowboys, rebels if you will, for their decision to separate from CAMS and run their own events. Not much information has been shown as to why this actually occurred in the first place. Well now with thanks to information we have received from the first Secretary of AMSAG, Jim Londregan, we can get a look into how and why AMSAG first formed.
And our thoughts were that as part of our 21st year celebrations, we'd share it with you all to see how we, AMSAG, came to be the organisation that exists now.
The following is taken from excerpts of the History of AMSAG we have received so far from Jim.
AMSAG's roots trace back to the All Australian Rally Group (AARG), who in 1992 ran charity rallies for the Endeavour Foundation in Queensland and the Australian Kidney Foundation in NSW. These events were run over 7-10 days duration and were aimed primarily at pre-1980 model cars, but did not restrict production models. All vehicles were required to have road registration to compete.
The competitors who competed in these charity rallies were not the normal competitor that would have participated in the State or National CAMS Competitions of the day. The AARG endeavoured to give these competitors on the fringe of our sport, the opportunity to compete in events other than charity rallies. it was decided to run events on a two or three day format to keep the active competition and fellowship that existed in charity rallies to be taken a step further without the high cost required to compete at State & Clubman level.
It was agreed to run events at Eugowra, Harden & Port Macquarie by the NSW members of the AARG. The Eugowra & Port Macquarie events were conducted on closed forestry roads with the Harden event run on Private Property only using Public Roads for Transport sections.
During 1993, events were planned to be run at Dubbo, Eugowra, Qurindi & Harden. However after the first event at Dubbo was completed, the AARG received correspondence from CAMS dated 6th April 1993 stating that the club was conducting rounds of a CAMS series, when in fact they were conducting rounds of a closed to club series, being that all competitors were members of AARG only.
The CAMS correspondence stated that as the events were deemed to be a CAMS series, a restriction would need to be applied to keep the events down to 1 day only i.e. the AARG could no longer run the longer 2-3 day events if they sought to use CAMS sanctions for the events. The members of the AARG did not agree with this as they felt the longer events were of importance to the towns as it provided economic assistance to these locations.
The letter placed the AARG in the position of not being able to conduct their events in NSW although it was felt that they could meet these requirements for future events. A meeting of the NSW members in April 1993 decided to proceed and run the next scheduled event in Eugowra without being involved with CAMS. From this meeting a new group was formed called "The Australian Motor Sport Action Group" of which Jim Londregan became the Secretary, the decision was taken knowing the way that CAMS operated by a responsible person and endorsed by the NSW members. At this time all ties with the AARG remained in place.
The event at Eugowra went ahead after obtaining all necessary permissions as required by CAMS, Forestry Fees were paid and insurances provided. No complaints were recorded at that time. Although the event was run with full approval from all authorities, it did not satisfy the members of AMSAG and as such all association with the event organiser, Mike Garret was discontinued.
The decision to breakaway from CAMS Series format was made by the NSW members of the group who felt the needs of its members were not being taken into account by CAMS, who at the time did not allow for older cars to compete in rallies in NSW, whilst events in both Victoria & Queensland were still allowing Historic Rally Cars to compete. Also to add to the dissolution was the fact that advertisements observed within motor sport magazines at the time showed other clubs or groups running events over more than one day in NSW, however according to the earlier correspondence received from CAMS, this was not allowed. Was it that the other groups were not subject to the same conditions as the ones imposed on AMSAG?
A formal proposal was put forward to CAMS by AMSAG for the 1994 season in which AMSAG would conduct rallies under the control of CAMS, these events though would be closed to club events with all competitors being AMSAG members.
AMSAG would run their own classes, based on the age of the vehicle. Class A – Up to 1960 Class B – 1961 – 1966 Class C – 1967 – 1970 with Four Cylinders Class D – 1967 – 1970 with Six Cylinders or over Class E – 1971 – 1980 with Four Cylinders Class F – 1971 – 1980 with Six Cylinders or over Any road registered vehicle in the above classes were eligible to compete.
The events would run up to 4 days in duration and mainly take place in daylight. All speed sections to take place in either Forestry areas or on Private Property. And that the club would conduct its own Point Score Series over the events conducted.
The 1994 events would consist of a 3 day event in the Dubbo/Gilgandra area, a 3 day event in the Orange/Eugowra/Forbes area, a 2 day event in the Quirindi area and a 2 day event in the Harden area.
AMSAG would also hold the exclusive rights to the Southern Cross Rally name and in 1995 would conduct an event of up to 4-5 days duration between Sydney & Melbourne as a re-enactment of the First Southern Cross Rally. (this event never eventuated, for reasons that are at the moment unclear, however we are seeking further information to find out why).
The final part of the proposal was that AMSAG would affiliate with CAMS provided they were allowed to continue to conduct their events under mutually acceptable terms and conditions.
This proposal was rejected by CAMS and as such the group moved forward with their events and the AMSAG we know today was born.
We are continuing to search for further historical documents relating to the formation years of AMSAG and look forward to presenting more details as they come to hand.
As a footnote we would like to acknowledge the assistance of Mr. Jim Londregan, the first Secretary of AMSAG, for providing us with this information. Jim is a 3 time winner of the Kidney Kar Rally (1999, 2006 & 2010), at the time of writing this proposal he had also competed in CAMS State, National and Clubman Series. He was also a member of the original committee that formatted the Rally Code, a committee member of the Central North Coast Sporting Car Club, Foundation member of the Cootamundra Car Club, President of the Dubbo Car Club and Treasurer of the Bathurst Light Car Club.
Also, we note that the Downs Motorsport Club located in South East Queensland was formed out of the QLD group of the AARG which became incorporated in 1998. Further details on this can be found at www.downsmotorsportclub.com.au/about.htm