Rally Recovery – How do I get started?
Before you commit yourself to spending money on a vehicle and equipment you need to know if you are going to like rally recovery.
If you already involved in rallying, either as a marshal, radio crew or even an event organiser the first thing I would suggest is to talk to an existing unit if there is one situated one your stage or give us a call. On the whole we are only too willing to discuss what we do although sometimes, if we are busy, our minds will be on the job in hand.
On the other hand we have seen many marshals, radio cars and event officials taking on the role of recovery without the proper equipment and making a right mess of it. And everyone’s an ‘expert’!
4WD and a ‘Halfords’ tow rope do not a recovery unit make.
A period of crewing for a unit, or shadowing if all the seats are taken, is essential to get out and see things from our perspective. You may well be surprised at the skills required to do the job properly.
Assuming you still want to go ahead then step one is to find a mentor unit Team Leader who will need to countersign your licence application. All AMRO units are on this site but there are a number of independent units and details of these can be obtained from the MSA
together a few FAQ’s from interested people that may help you.
Provided you meet the MSA Blue Book requirement as follows –
For light recovery, a four wheel drive is recommended with a two tonne
For heavy recovery, a four wheel drive equipped with a two or higher capacity
winch, that has the capability by vehicle mounted or towed equipment to execute
the suspended towing of a vehicle. Or a rear wheel drive vehicle and a rear
mounted spectacle lift and a two tonne or higher winch. It is strongly
recommended that such vehicles are equipped with a limited slip differential.
Recovery units are owner-operated private vehicles, although the rules also
allow for commercial garages, and in many
cases double for the family car in between events. Obviously, the task, terrain
and equipment to be carried determine which types of vehicle is needed but I
would think a Land Rover 90 or the like is as small as you could safely go. The
modern 4WD crew cab Nissan’s, Mitsubishi’s etc are becoming increasingly
popular. Look at the pictures in the “gallery” to get an idea. Your budget
will also set your limit but remember that any vehicle you use is going to work
for a living !
As a trainee you will not be going out on stage unsupervised [except for perhaps
the straight tow ins] so during your trainee period you will be able to observe
your mentor unit and other existing units kit and build up your own.
MSA emergency frequency radio will be one of your biggest outlays so unless you
already own one or are a member of a motor club that has a supply make sure you
are ready to go forward before purchasing as they can be in the region of £300.
However, you need one main mentor who will guide you through your training
period and help you towards your assessment but it is possible that at times you
may not both be able to attend the same events.
you are known on the circuit then it is possible that you can build a rapport
with other Team Leaders and attend a variety of events. To a point this is
advisable, as you will be able to experience other ways of working and other
types of kit.
will not book you a trainee without the presence of an experience unit.
There are two levels of unit, Light [without suspended tow] & Heavy [with
suspended tow facility]. The choice is yours depending on your commitment and
the size of your wallet.
will see I have worded it as ‘suspended tow facility’ as there are several
car trailer – cumbersome on stage, awkward to turn and
and can be difficult to load a badly damaged car. On the plus side once a car is
on board it is secure and it matters not if it is 2 or 4 WD.
b. Spec-Lift -
the ideal method but expensive and needs a vehicle big enough to fit it
to. Ex-garage units are readily available but don’t forget the 4WD
c. Towable Crane - Harvey
Frost made the original and nearly all the units you will meet use this type or
a derivative. A lot of the ones in use today have been extended or had wide
Be extremely careful of home made alterations as loading weights and strains can be excessive.
Any car, but more importantly 4WD competitive cars, can bring their own
problems and it is very important that you understand the suspended tow part of
the discipline and the principals involved before just hooking up.
As part of your trainee period there is a requirement to attend two MSA
recognised rally recovery training days. Here you can be instructed on methods
of work you may not have experienced on events, types of equipment you may not
have come across and be given the opportunity to practice your existing skills.
In addition to this there is a requirement to attend a basic marshals
training day. Here you will be given the opportunity to experience hands-on fire
fighting, basic First-Aid and radio operations.
Unless you are already au-fait with rally set ups and running then you
can see where we fit into the whole picture. As a member of the marshal’s
register you may well have attended the latter type of day and this is
The simple answer is that the car your are recovering will be but your
vehicle may not.
The are two elements to this very contentious problem.
The standard MSA insurance provided third party insurance which means
that the competitor could claim [and has done so several times] against the
recovery unit for any damage caused. Provided your are LICENCED and carrying out
your work correctly then you should be OK. As the car is likely to be damaged
when it crashes then the level of later inflicted damage is debatable but a lot
are unmarked and do not want a careless, over-enthusiastic operator wrecking
their pride and joy.
CHECK YOUR POLICY.
Nearly all private policies have disclaimers covering any form of motorsport,
whether competing or just marshalling so you may be on your own once you enter
stage. One policy I know stops when you load your equipment, others assume
[wrongly] that the MSA will pick up the tab.
COMPETITION CAR have developed a policy which is very well worth
considering if you go the whole way to setting up a unit. This does cover your
vehicle on and off the road and during the event when you will be working and
covers all of your equipment.
No. However, it is highly recommended, for your own safety, that you
have some first aid knowledge and the HSE at Work [10+ persons] type of course
and certificate is ideal.
There will be times when your unit is working alone with some extremely
dangerous kit in hazardous conditions and will need this knowledge. Other times
you may be the first on scene of an accident.
We work closely with Rally Rescue Units and you may well find yourself
helping with rescue activities under the direction of a doctor or Rescue crew
is negotiable and depends on event organisers. Generally, trainee units, when
shadowing, do not figure in an events finances.
You are never going to get rich or make a living at rally recovery so treat it as a hobby.
event organisers [but certainly not all] are realistic in their outlook and
realise the cost of running a unit and are willing to pay reasonable expenses
but this can vary considerably.
There are three levels of membership but anyone who holds a recovery
licence will be expected to join as a full [or family] member.
interested? Want to know more?
Pick up the
phone and speak to any of the Club contacts or a Unit Team Leader from the
Operators list or a Unit on your next event. Hopefully we will get to see you
out there in mud soon.