History Of The RAC Breakdown Service
In 1897, Charles Harrington Moore and Richard Simms organized the Royal Automobile Club (RAC). At the time, the group was known as the Automobile Club of Great Britain, and its founders were guided by the constitution of the Automobile Club de France in establishing its regulations. Within four years, the RAC began employing the first uniformed patrolmen in the United Kingdom, and in 1907, they received royal approval, adopting its present name at that time.
How the RAC grew and evolved
In 1926, the group began the British Grand Prix, which was held at Brooklands, and six years latter it sponsored the first RAC Rally. At the time, the event covered more than 1,000 miles, and while the drivers started from different locations, they all headed for the finish line on the southern coast of the UK at Torquay. While 367 drivers began the race, 259 contestants completed it, and their average speed was 25 mph.
By 1960, Blackpool had become the starting point for the British Grand Prix, and the race, which ended at Brands Hatch, covered more than 2,000 miles. The forestry stages were introduced a year later, high speeds could be reached as a result, and rallies were won or lost on that basis. More recently, the Network Q Rally has covered the entire UK in conjunction with the World Series.
In 1978, the group was incorporated with the name RAC Motoring Services Ltd., and in 1999, the members sold it to Lex Service plc. Since 2005, it has been owned by Aviva.
Now, many classic car enthusiasts and others collect memorabilia from the RAC’s early days, and it is not uncommon to see an antique car with the original RAC emblem on the grill. Others prefer to collect motorcycles and telephone boxes from the RAC’s early days, when they were essential to breakdown cover, and neither engineering nor technology were as advanced as they are now.
Currently, the RAC has approximately 2,000 patrols that respond to 2.8 million breakdowns every year, including those that take place overseas related to RAC Europe. The RAC now insures 7 million roadside-assistance subscribers, with 4.5 million corporate clients and 2.5 million individual members. The RAC’s numerous breakdown-assistance centres operate on a 24/7 basis, and they respond to approximately 4 million calls annually. In addition, to reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption, the RAC is also using two hybrid vehicles on a trial basis. Not surprisingly, the group received the distinguished JD Power award for three consecutive years for having the UK’s best roadside patrols.
In 2006, RAC joined forces with West Surrey Racing (WSR), formed Team RAC, and competed in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) with two MGZS vehicles. The cars, which are liveried with the organization’s corporate orange, have won many races.
In our modern, complex society, RAC now fills many needs related to safe automobile travelling, and they include the following:
- RAC Europe provides breakdown cover for their customers in Europe who travel on the continent, and 47 countries are included. The headquarters is located in Villeurbanne, France, and English-speaking Incident Managers are available to assist them 24 hours a day when the need arises.
- RAC Direct Insurance offers automobile, van, motorcycle, travel, and home insurance.
- RAC Legal Services provides information and representation to members who are involved in a personal injury claim.
- RAC Vehicle Checks and Examinations performs vehicle checks that determine if a car has been written off, stolen, has previous plates or outstanding charges, or may be sold illegally, and that its chassis number and number plate match. This service is provided by HBI, which also determines if a vehicle’s documents are authentic.
- RAC Examinations Inspectors perform physical checks on a vehicle to ensure that it is both structurally and mechanically sound.
Note that RAC also provides it members with various traffic and travel services—such as in-car navigation, assistance with travel documents, and online route planners.
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