The 22-year-old bringing rallying to a new audience

Rallying has untouched potential. Rallying in Ireland has a host of possibilities yet to be realised.

We love our sport, and we are good at doing it. The Irish rallying community is full of talent and skill that does a fantastic job at putting on a show, capturing the drama, and recording the rally-related stories.

My aim for Rally Insight has been to play a small part in this overall group of rally people hoping to promote the sport.

But I have always been aware of one shortcoming. A rally page promoting rally content will reach rally people.

That’s okay and for sure it fills a missing piece of the overall puzzle. A separate piece has been needed, though – to reach new people and share the Irish rallying story with them.

Enter, Jason McConnon.

4.2 million monthly views, 3.2 million Monaghan Rally views, and over 300,000 TikTok likes in the last 28 days.

McConnon is fast becoming a social media sensation and his content is cars, cars, cars. His followers love anything with four wheels.

Now, they are being introduced to rallying. McConnon is tapping into the sport he has loved from day dot, his Father rallied a Talbot Sunbeam “back in the day” and the bug is clearly genetic.

McConnon hasn’t missed a Donegal International Rally since his first trip as a two-year-old. 20 years on, he’s hoping to make his Donegal debut.

Car salesman come company marketer, the Carrickmacross man has used his college education to boost his family’s car sales business. 

“TikTok came out and I thought about it,” explained McConnon. “Facebook was dying, Instagram was okay, but there had to be a platform where we could push ourselves into a new market.

“I started uploading simple videos that provided a new type of content. People really took to it, and we have just hit 160,000 followers.

“In the space of a year, it is crazy.”

Such growth doesn’t come without its own costs. McConnon has sacrificed free time, hobbies, and holidays as he worked in the business that has always meant everything alongside creating content to boost the dealership’s online presence.

When the opportunity to go rallying came about, the 22-year-old was never going to say no. Where better to start than his local Monaghan Stages Rally.

“We’ve been so busy since Covid that I haven’t had time for any hobbies.

“Monaghan was my first passion project. Everything before then was just for content.

“I wanted to do something for myself and the online stuff gave me a platform to do it.

“I’ve been watching rallying for 20 years and it was incredible to see behind the scenes.

“What has to be outlined a lot more in rallying is the volunteers. It is incredible what goes on behind the scenes. It would be great if I can highlight some of these things on my social media platforms.”

Listening to McConnon’s stories about competing in his first-ever rally, it’s clear he revelled in the essence of Irish rallying. Hiring a Peugeot 208 R2 meant driving left-hand-drive, a scenario first encountered on the way to Monaghan’s opening stage. The rush to get the car ready for the rally, the challenge of understanding pacenotes… McConnon was full of anecdotes that capture what the rallying is all about.

So, back to my original point, what can McConnon bring to Irish rallying? What has he spotted from his rally-related content in Monaghan and has it encouraged him to continue with his passion project?

You bet it has!

“A family emailed me before Monaghan, they were coming over from Scotland to watch the rally.

“When I looked back at the analytics, nothing that I had ever done before had got the engagement it did.

“It was families that were into cars and motorsport but didn’t quite understand rallying. It’s bringing a new audience to the sport and hopefully I can help to introduce them to it.

“Anytime we came into service there were people waiting to talk to us. It is really surreal because a year ago we were just doing our own thing and now there are so many people invested in the project.

“People are asking so many inquisitive questions about the rallying content. Like why is the car left-hand-drive or why does it have a foreign number plate.

“When you break it down with all the different technical aspects: pacenotes, fuel, tyres, weather, the different classes… I think there is an unlimited amount of content that can be made to educate people.

“It opened my eyes and it definitely led us to buy the car that we hired so we can do more things like this.”

At the start of our conversation, McConnon and I shared memories of spectating at rallies in Ireland. Standing in a field, hanging over a ditch, watching bucket list cars fly past while eating sandwiches and drinking tea with the rest of your family.

Rallying is a special spectator sport, a simple spectating sport, and a free spectating sport. McConnon is sharing the experience with hundreds of thousands of people with the hope that like him they’ll be hooked after their first taste of top-end rally cars tackling Ireland’s countryside race tracks.

He might only be making his first steps into competitive action but what McConnon is doing with his online content is a timely reminder of Irish rallying’s valuable potential.

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Photos courtesy of JMC Media

Adam Hall

Brought up in the Irish countryside, Adam was never far away from the world of rallying. From following local events like the Circuit of Ireland and the Ulster Rally, Adam now puts the stories from stages all around the world into words through his website Rally Insight.

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