Historic Endurance Rallying Organization and ERA Events are claiming that 13-year-old Natasha Lomas has become the youngest ever navigator to finish an official regularity rally. She recently guided her father, John, in his 1936 Riley Sprite in the event.
While she was the youngest navigator to finish any such event, according to HERO-ERA, the 1936 Riley Sprite was the oldest car in the competition, which marked Natasha’s debut as navigator.
“I was very nervous at the start, but I think everyone was,” the youngster was quoted in the post-rally news release. “Being the youngest navigator made it a bit more challenging, but everyone was so nice, it made the experience a lot more fun and enjoyable than I had expected it to be.”
Before the event, she took part in a 3-day “Novice Trial,” a program designed as an introduction to classic and historic rallying with classroom and on-road instruction.
The Lomas father-and-daughter team and their vintage Riley competed against 40 other entries in four regularities and four tests in the rally.
“It was a great bonding experience, even though dad didn’t listen to me a few times,” Natasha said. “It was only our first event, so there’s no need to be upset about that. If anyone else is thinking of doing this, I would 100 percent recommend it. It’s for absolutely everyone, at any age.”
Tony Jardine of HERO-ERA said he hopes the milestone will inspire others to participate in historic rallying: “We have been developing a funnel of ‘newbies’ in the sport and helping them advance, especially the young. It is not unusual to see family combinations such as John and Natasha on an event as the enthusiasm of the parent can sometimes rub off, what is unusual is to find a female so young who is enthused by rallying when there are so many other hobbies or sports that may be attractive.”
Jardine noted the young navigator’s confidence: “She had faith in her ability to the point that she was critical of her father, John, the driver, for taking a wrong turn when she had expressly indicated the correct road. She was calm and collected, great traits required for this intense form of navigation.”
John Lomas has clocked thousands of miles as driver or navigator on rallies, including the Monte Carlo Classique, the Flying Scotsman and Royal Automobile Club 1,000 Mile Trial. He is the managing director of Blue Diamond Riley Services, a company that specializes in the brand. He called his daughter’s performance “phenomenal.”
“I think Natasha is looking for another driver now,” he said, adding that he ignored her instruction at one point because he thought she was on the wrong page of the rally route book.
“At the tea halt I went to make a complaint saying you’ve missed an arrow off, but it was pointed out that it was me who had made a pigs ear of it. I had told her to turn to the speed table page. Thus, we missed a control and picked up 2.30 of penalties. The moment was captured by (photographer) Will Broadhead and our faces are priceless.
“Then, there was a left turn and I just didn’t follow Natasha’s instruction. The car didn’t miss a beat, the navigation was spot on, but sadly, the driver wasn’t really at the races.
“Of course, it’s all about getting round, doing it and enjoying it, but there are a lot of people who are older and wiser who didn’t manage to get round and who missed the control, so I couldn’t be prouder.”