There are few drivers who can claim to have competed in five decades of Snowman Rallies – but Dave MacDonald can – an incredible achievement - from our records he is the longest competing driver in the history of the Snowman Rally.
Dave's motorsport career started in the Highland Car and Motorcycle Club, where he borrowed cars to start his competition career – in fact loaned cars were to be a feature of his Snowman career – starting with two events in a Ford Consul from his future in laws and a Standard Pennant from Mike White as a Mini Cooper he had bought from him was not ready.
Recalling that early event - Dave remembers it being very snowy, and Ian Sutherland finishing the event in his Mini with no door!. On that year's event he competed ‘4 up’ with Harry McCurrach co driving with both their future wives in the back taking care of timing!.
On one time control however they ended up at a time control with a time earlier than they started with!.
In those early days Dave recalls many of the club members, including: Willie Munro, Danny Robertson, Campbell, Olive & Hugh Harper, Mike White, Kerr Robertson, John Oaks MacDonald, Allan Lowrie, Jim Garden and Dodo Campbell amongst many.
Early Snowman rallies were often incident packed! – two events particularly sticking out in his mind: One was on Ben Nevis stage when driving his 1100 Corolla, with Tom Davis navigating – Dave saw the taillights of a car ahead and followed at speed – unfortunately, there was a kink in the road that brought an end to their rally – down a bank but fortunately with no damage. On another event just before the bridge in Rogie on a very snowy event on a right hand bend the car went off, and he got stick in deep snow. Other than that – all other Snowman retirements were down to mechanical failures.
Snowman entries continued in 1986 finishing 34th , and again in 1988 starting at 53rd he finished 39th.
One of Dave's favourite stories is to recall the 1989 event. He had been asked by the event organisers to help reward a local policeman called Billy Hargreaves - who had been doing a lot of work for charity. Billy had never sat in a rally car let alone compete in one.
From a start number of 33 the new pairing set off to do the event – Dave was not too concerned about his novice sitting beside him, and after taking a ‘good look at the roadbook’ before leaving the start ramp, Dave knew ‘pretty much where he was going – they would sort out the timing on the way’ – how to use all those years to good use!.
After a short time, Billy who had amongst his various adventures for charity undertaken absailing, wing walking, and bungee jumping was to admit after the event that taking part in the rally had been the most frightening experience of his life!. As the duo progressed however Billy began to think he might just survive - which they did with a fine class win and 20th overall!.
Dave's driving career took him into the 90s and 00s, where he broke away from Toyotas to use a variety of cars including a Sierra Cosworth, and his final car a Subaru Impreza. Results were 61st in the snowy 1990 event and a non finish from a start number of 24 in 1999.
His final Snowman Rally came in 2009 where he retired with transmission failure in the Subaru, however he did manage a credible top 30 finish in the Speyside Stages later in the year.
An incredible competition history over five decades - is an achievement that few of us can imagine! and makes Dave one of the Snowman's most regular competitors of all time – he says ‘I have no idea how many – it must be more than 20 I guess and 150 stage events over the years.
Dave believes he made that possible by using cars that were damaged repairable, using his own skills and those of helpers to make competing as affordable as possible – although not a cheap sport he says – it can be done on a limited budget.