AND they’re off! Dads and lads turned out in force this morning to watch rally cars race out of a Sunderland park.
Rain couldn’t dampen spirits as hundreds turned out with umbrellas to watch the race drivers set off from Herrington Country Park.
The city is playing host to the 11th annual Roger Albert Clark Rally and the three day event is proving a huge crowd-puller.
A night rally set off last night and this morning saw 65 cars set off from the park headed for Croft racing circuit by way of Hamsterley Forest.
Colin Heppenstall, rally manager, said he was delighted by the support the race is getting from visitors, and drivers from all over Europe are taking part.
He said: “We are very pleased with the turn-out, there’s a huge number of spectators, despite the horrible weather.
“We like to move the race around and we knew Sunderland was keen to try and bring racing sports into the city, so we decided on here.
“Everything has gone really well and Herrington Country Park is a cracking venue for this.”
The car-mad Cusson family was among those who braved the rain to go along and watch the cars set off.
Andy Cusson, 31, wife, Marie, 32, and their 23-month-old son, Ezra, who live in Penshaw, were joined by Andy’s parents, Mike Cussons, 58, and his wife, Carole, 56, who travelled from Chester-le-Street.
Mike, who used to be a marshall at car rallies, said: “It is brilliant to have something like this back in the region.”
Andy added: “It is just awesome, it is fantastic to get people into the city, really good for Sunderland.”
Richard Lewis, 39, a data analyst from Moorside, went along with his three-year-old son, Harry.
He said: “Harry is car mad. I went to the world one in Wales and got a taste for it, so decided to come to this rally as well.
“It is definately good for the city, people have come from all over the place.”
The rally teams have their headquarters in the Seaburn Centre, where the final results will be announced and presentations made on Sunday evening when they return from the last leg of the event.