AutoRaise News

Successful rally raises awareness and funds

A 330-mile car rally, organised by leading vehicle repair charity AutoRaise, raised awareness about the skills shortage in the vehicle repair sector.

Forty cars took part in the car rally, sponsored by UPOL, to travel the Viking Way across Norfolk and Lincolnshire from 7-8 September 2023. Participants dressed as Vikings and themed their cars to acknowledge the route they were taking – although many had to discard their fancy dress due to an unexpected heatwave.

Insurance companies, vehicle repairers and organisations involved in the industry joined the line-up, and despite some ‘classic’ vehicles, only one had to be towed home.

Many of the cars involved in the rally were restored by apprentices working in body shops across the UK.

The rally started at the global headquarters of Lotus sports cars in Hethel, near Norwich, where the participants got to drive a lap of the famous 2.2-mile test track. This is where Lotus tests and develops its high-performance sports cars, including the Lotus Evija – the most powerful series production road car and the multi award-winning Lotus Emira.

The route also included pit stops at the seaside resorts of Hunstanton and Skegness before travelling the Viking Way to arrive at the impressive viewing area of the Humber Bridge.

Day two involved a visit to Cadwell Park Circuit for an entertaining pitstop where participants watched motorcyclists race around the famous twisty track. 

Steven Hames, Business Development Manager, GT Motive took part in the rally in a restored Volkswagen Camper Van.

“I think I have done about five rallies and this is our first time over to this part of Great Britain and we seem to always be blessed with wonderful weather. It has been great to meet up with industry colleagues and friends.

“The scenery has been very different and very flat – which helps when you’re in an aged old VW with little power,” said Steven, who joined the industry as an apprentice panel technician when he was 17.

“We are really desperate to get new people into the industry,” added Steven. “There’s a real lack of awareness of the vehicle repair industry, people don’t know it’s there as a career and there’s many different options once you’re in that arena. It’s a good place to be – it’s an industry of people helping people put back on the road their second most valuable possession.”

There was also a chance for some axe throwing and archery at Stourton Woods, where the ‘vikings’ also enjoyed foot long gourmet Lincolnshire sausages from local business The Dogs.

The teams concluded the rally with a drinks reception outside Doddington Hall and an awards evening at the Hilton in Lincoln, where Copart’s Rolls Royce Ghost won the best liveried vehicle and Synetiq stole the crown for the best fancy dress. (see full list of winners below). 

General Manager Matt Caldicott said: “The AutoRaise Rally 2023 was a success, where participants had a lot of fun while raising awareness of the skills shortage in the vehicle repair sector. A huge thank you to everyone who took part or donated.

“This industry is one of the most exciting to work in and young people should be enthusiastic about their career prospects in vehicle repair. We need to fling open the doors of the bodyshops of today to show the technology, innovation and creativity inside.  

“It’s vital we attract new talent into the sector to ensure we have enough trained technicians to support the industry.”

A recent report from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) reported that 45,800 vehicle technicians will be required in the next 10 years.1

While more repairer groups are adopting apprenticeship schemes, more support is needed to encourage young people to consider vehicle repair as a future career option.

Jason Hopkins Country Manager UPOL/Axalta said:

“The sustainability of the vehicle repair sector is hugely important and we are delighted to be front and centre sponsoring the AutoRaise Rally to raise awareness of the opportunities in our sector and support attracting new talent to the workforce.”

Award winners

Most Talked About and Admired Car – Renault Clio Williams driven by Tom Mulligan and Will Thompson from Abaco

Best fancy dress – Synetiq Vikings

Best designed car – Beetle with a roof rack and Spice Girls (joint winners) – both Gemini 

Car most likely to break down (but made it to the finish line) – Escort XR3i, driven by Dave Vella and Andrew Eadie from GT Motive UK

Best photo – Viking in Staunton Woods – Synetiq, Richard Barmby

Fundraiser who has contributed the most Justin Bown, Collision Repair Group

Most Historic Rally Vehicle – Porsche 928 driven by Carl Green and Paul Challoner, Carpenters Group 

Best liveried vehicle – Rolls Royce Ghost – Copart

Lowest budget entry – Vauxhall Calibra (£180) – Luke Horrocks and Lewis Woolnough from The Green Parts Specialists

Above and beyond – Recovery team – Joe and Mark

Scroll to Top