EHRC - Q&A with the President of the Historic Motor Sport Commission | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

EHRC - Q&A with the President of the Historic Motor Sport Commission


In December 2020 John Naylor was appointed as the new President of the FIA Historic Motor Sport Commission, taking over from Paolo Cantarella, who had held the post since 2014.  John Naylor brings with him a wealth of experience as a competitor, engineer and official, both in his native Ireland and on the international stage, to the role.

We caught up with him ahead of the first round of the FIA European Historic Rally Championship in Italy, the Sanremo Rallye Storico, which will get underway on Friday 9th April.

Q1: Can you tell us a bit about your background before being elected President of the FIA Historic Motor Sport Commission?

John Naylor: “I’ve been a member of Historic Motor Sport Commission for over 10 years and I’m in my fourth year as President of Motor Sport Ireland.  This is my second term as I was also president in 2004.  I’ve also chaired the Hill Climb Committee and the Technical Commission, I’ve been a scrutineer and a clerk of the course for racing, rallying, hill climbing and karting.  I’ve also been a steward for Historic F1, Historic Sportscars and Hill Climbs for the past eight years. 

“I’ve also competed.  Hill Climb was my main sport for many years, and I finished second in the Irish championship in my best year. I also raced in the latter part of my career; so, the last cars I raced was a Lola 91/50 F3000 with a small block chevy in it, which I still have.  I have a Formula Ford 2000, which is waiting for an engine to go into it, and an 86 Reynard Formula Ford.  I have other cars for both racing and hill climbing.”


Q2: What are your goals for your first term as President of the FIA Historic Motor Sport Commission?

John Naylor: “The big goal is to get historic motorsport up and running again and to ensure that our championships actually do happen.  There has been a lot of hard work to get the FIA COVID-19 protocols approved and implemented. The big goal is to make sure our championships actually run in 2021.”


Q3: All forms of motor sport were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including historic motor sport.  What is the commission doing to help organisers of historic events, especially rallying, to allow the various championships to run in 2021? 

JN: “The FIA administration, primarily Vincent Caro and Arnaud Crepin, are guiding the organisers every step of the way and liaising between them and the COVID-19 compliance laid down by the FIA to ensure practical approaches can be achieved. You have to remember that our championships, from circuit racing, to rallying and hill climb, are usually part of a larger event, which is not necessarily an international championship as well.  It can be quite challenging and everyone in Geneva is working hard to ensure the events can go ahead.”


Q4: How will the FIA promote the European Historic Rally Championship to enable the championship to grow in the next few years?

JN: “2021 is not the year to think about growth, although I am all for growth.  At the moment we have to make sure the existing events are supported and run within the COVID-19 protocols. We need to get to the end of the pandemic, with everyone getting vaccinations, then we can start to think how we are going to grow the championship.  Having said that, even under these difficult circumstances, we have received entries from new competitors ahead of the first rally in Italy, which is another good sign that we are going in the right direction.

“The FIA is also being proactive, providing the organisers and competitors with new tools for registering, we are looking at attracting more media coverage and more video features on each of the rallies across the website and social media channels, making the championship more visible.  All these things go towards making the EHRC more popular, which in turn brings more competitors.

“One of the other things we are looking to include is another gravel rally on the calendar, not for this year or, maybe, not even for 2022, but for the mid-term. This would help grow the status of the championship.”


Q5: The Historic Motor Sport Commission voted in favour of changing the name of the championship, dropping the word ‘Sporting’ from the title.  What was the reason for this change?

JN: “The quick answer is it was changed to make the title shorter and simpler. In everybody’s mind rally is a sporting and speed competition, so for this championship we wanted the title to be as direct and short as possible.  For the regularity rallies we keep the word regularity in the title, but in general rally is a sporting and speed competition, so it is not necessary to keep it in the title.”