SPORT is our passion, and adrenaline drives our competitive spirit, writes Paul Willetts.

Excelling in any sport — be it cricket, rugby, golf, football, or motorsport — requires a unique blend of talent and dedication.

And while fans and spectators often dream of witnessing these feats of excellence, and with the Hills Ford Stages soon roaring into view for local rally fans, few sports drive innovation and technology quite like motorsport, ultimately benefiting everyone.

Ryan Taylor and Luke Watts in last yea’s event. Picture by Paul Mitchell Photography. (©Paul Mitchell)

Motorsport is frequently criticised for its environmental impact, often becoming entangled in the politics of carbon emissions.

But a deeper look reveals significant benefits that far outweigh the costs.

The R&D efforts in motorsport have led to the development of more efficient engines and advanced performance technologies that trickle down to everyday road cars.

Additionally, motorsport is committed to addressing its carbon footprint, with numerous initiatives focused on sustainability.

A study published in the *Journal of Cleaner Production* highlights the obscure yet significant link between motorsport and energy-efficient, low-carbon innovation, providing evidence from the UK and European Union.

It underscores how motorsport contributes to the development of sustainable technologies that benefit broader society, such as Formula One and Porsche’s pioneering work in developing zero-carbon synthetic fuels.

In the UK, organisations like Carbon Positive Motorsport are leading rewilding projects, while Carless Chemicals has been at the forefront of developing carbon-neutral fuels used in rallying by Vital Equipment.

Today’s rally cars, equipped with performance engines that meet stringent UK road requirements, are inherently more efficient.

While a premier British rally championship round attracts perhaps a few thousand spectators, Premier League football matches draw crowds of 30,000 or more.

However, the environmental impact of rally events is meticulously accounted for, with measures to offset carbon emissions.

Held on the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire/Worcestershire border from September 14-15, the Hills Ford Stages' structured approach ensures every vehicle, trailer, engineer, service truck, and motorhome is accounted for in terms of carbon impact.

Organisers focus on supporting local carbon offset projects, such as the Severn Valleys Streetscapes Project, rather than international initiatives, demonstrating a commitment to the local community.

Moreover, rally events bring substantial economic benefits locally, attracting teams and spectators who stay in hotels, dine at restaurants, purchase fuel and more.

The 2023 rally featured 115 competitors with an average of two support crew each, approximately 500 marshals, security staff, and officials, and around 2,000 spectators.

With an average spend of between £50 and £100 per person, this generates an estimated local investment of between £150,000 and £284,000 over the weekend.

This infusion of tourism helps introduce the beauty of the Three Counties to a wider audience, fostering a deeper connection with the area.

In contrast to other sports, rally events are often non-profit, with entry fees designed to cover costs rather than generate profit, most of which is spent on safety requirements.

This community-focused approach also extends to working with local parishes and organisations to support fundraising initiatives, whether for central heating in a church or other local needs.

Motorsport, particularly rallying, is not just thrilling, it's a catalyst for innovation, environmental responsibility and community development.

And it is also hoped that through discussions with local colleges and even schools, organisers can highlight the benefits of education in science, math, and English, as well as mechanical engineering, showcasing the sport's career prospects.