Visitors to Blackpool’s Central Pier yesterday morning could have been forgiven for thinking they had stepped on to the set of a real-life Wacky Races.
Costumed drivers and crew members in no fewer than 82 brightly-coloured cars gathered at the pier before setting off on a five-day 1,500-mile charity drive.
The Benidorm or Bust rally takes them all the way from Blackpool to Benidorm in Spain via Dover, Poitiers, Bordeaux and Zaragoza, culminating in a day of racing at the Cartagena racing track.
Entrants from all over the North West included console heroes Mario and Luigi and drivers clad in ‘space suits’.
There were also entrants from Blackpool and the Fylde coast, including tangerine-themed team The Volverine from Blackpool, comprising Andy Gaskell, Michael McGee, Sandy Dargue and Craig Bradbury.
Each team raised money for a charity of their choice through sponsorship, the £200 entry fee for a car and two crew members and a £25 charge for extra crew members.
They were tasked with finding an ‘old banger’ worth no more than a few hundred pounds and at least 12 years old for the drive.
Terry Rogers, a Rossall ward councillor in Fleetwood, was among those seeing the drivers off.
He is the Blackpool and Fylde co-ordinator of Help for Heroes, which raises money for injured armed forces personnel and was there to accept a £4,000 cheque from the Collision Solutions team based in Haslingden, east Lancashire.
Coun Rogers, who was himself discharged from the Army after being shot in the leg by the IRA in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, said: “This is a fantastic amount of money which will directly help injured servicemen and women and our national treatment centres.
“But this event isn’t just about the amount raised but about the huge task of driving from Blackpool to Benidorm.
“The crew of each car will all be taking it in turns to do the driving and completing the challenge will be a real team effort.”
There is a £1,000 prize fund, with cash awards in the catergories Best Car, Best Costumes and Spirit of the Event.
There are fun challenges along the way and there is also a cash prize for the highest daily score.
A prize-giving ceremony will be held in Benidorm on Saturday at which trophies, medals and certificates will be awarded.