Some clubs have different rules but a classic rally car usually has to have been built before 1981, have less than 2 litre engines and no more than 4 cylinders. There is a waiver system though and I;ve competed aganst 6 and 8 cylinder cars with much more than 2 litres (and often set faster times in the Midget too…heh, heh, heh!)
At the top end is classic stage rallying. Proper serious over-crest-opens-don’t cut stuff with pace notes and big budgets. They use the same sort of courses as modern WRC My Midget isn’t actually that far from being eligible and I did briefly consider doing an event just for the experience but it really is serious. I might be able to get it away without the service crew but when I started to read about the crews changing suspension arms as a precaution, I knew it was beyond me.
At the other extreme are navigational classic rallies, sometimes called classic road rallies. These involve following a route either from maps or a route book. Some are little more than a tour – tootle around some picturesque countryside with a very gentle competitive element. Others are extremely competitive with several hundred miles of navigation timed to the second. Sections (often deliberately difficult routes) are given preset average speeds and check points are spread over the course. The driver and navigator have to stick to the average speed (which may change several times) with penalties for being early (very bad) or late (quite bad) at the check points.
The average is usually between 20 and 30 mph which sounds slow. However, the roads are very narrow and sometimes an average of 30mph is quite hard to maintain. Also, if you go wrong (“wrong slot”) you have to make up time which will require you to exceed 30mph. Sometimes by some margin!
The ones I went for are a combination of the two with the HRCR Clubmans’s championship. Theses events take a long day and most of the time is spent on the road rally. However, every rally incorporates a series of “tests” which are where the driver gets to stretch the car’s legs a little… The tests are usually around cones or on a narrow path, sometimes on rough surfaces.
They key to success is cooperation and co-ordination with driver and crew. Not like in the first video below!