Michael O'Carroll went in search of the true story behind the Donegal International Rally and this film has the lot, bar the smell of petrol and burning rubber.

Rally driving is a battle with time. It's a wrestle with the prancing motor car and the ability to read at a glance local conditions. It's also a dance along the ragged edge between delight and disaster.

However, the regulations and controls in the sport of rally driving keep it safe. Each car and participant undergoes a systematic inspection by officials before taking part. The drivers and their cars must comply with the strict regulations. Brakes, lights, engines and tyres are the components that count most. 
One competitor comments

Everything on the car is gone over with a fine tooth comb.

There are 140 crews lined up for the three day Castrol Donegal Rally. Scottish rally driver and reigning champion Jimmy McRae is all revved up in his Opel Ascona on the start line where he talks to Michael O'Carroll about his competition in the race. Local favourites with local information John Lyons and Bill Moffet from Castlederg also tell Michael O'Carroll about how they plan to play the race. John Price and co-driver Hugh Wylie from Wales, are driving one of the most sophisticated rally cars - a Renault R5 Turbo. 

Competitors face 39 stages over 600 miles over the 3 days of the event. 

The TV listing in the RTÉ Guide dated 4 September 1981 describes the rally as follows.

A tough prestigious competition set in Letterkenny and using stages in the most Northern parts of the country. Combining action, sound and script in a delightfully strange way Donegal '81 gives a fresh insight into the colourful, exciting and dangerous sport of Rallying.

The 1981 Donegal Rally was won by John Lyons and Bill Moffet with second place going to Jimmy McRae and Ian Grindrod.

'Donegal 81 - The Castrol International Rally' was broadcast on 11 September 1981.