With the current euphoria over the World Cup for soccer being held in South Africa, it’s an appropriate time to release a book to celebrate an amazing event masterminded in 1970 to publicise the soccer World Cup in Mexico. Right on cue, a magnificent new book arrived on RallySport Magazine’s editorial desk, adding another perspective to an event that some of us remember vaguely while others, not even born at the time, can barely imagine.


The 1970 World Cup Rally was the brainchild of a trio of British rally people including John Sprinzel and Paddy Hopkirk, who longed to run an event to match, or even better, the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon. However, this event was like no other event in motorsport history and certainly twice the event that the LSM was. At 25,750 kilometres in length, it was to last for six weeks as it took the 106 entries all the way over land and sea from London to Mexico where the soccer World Cup was being held.

Along the way there would be enormous challenges – lack of sleep, suicidal local traffic, crashes, mechanical breakdowns and the most fearsome obstacle of all – the climb through the Andes mountains on roads rising to over 16,000 feet where drivers and navigators were forced to carry oxygen bottles just to survive. Sponsored by London’s Daily Mirror newspaper, it was the roughest, toughest and most demanding car rally of all time. Of the 106 starters, only 23 cars made it to the finish, which gives you some idea of the magnitude of it all. In the end Ford’s Mk.1 Escorts triumphed, taking 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th positions, with Triumph 2.5Pi’s second and fourth.

Prolific motorsport author, Graham Robson, himself one of the major officials on the event, has produced a wonderful record of the event, an event that celebrated its 40th anniversary last April. The book runs to 200 pages and follows the epic journey from the start in London to the flag-waving ceremony in Mexico City in South America 42 days later. Robson’s book is totally absorbing, illustrated with period photos of the cars, the crews and the dramatic scenery from the event as well as from the pre-event surveys where the survey teams had to make their own roads from village to village because no roads existed.

Robson’s large format book is absorbing, informative and inspiring – inspiring in as much as it makes you want to drive the route yourself. But the book’s report will have to suffice; the difficulty of passing through today’s war-torn countries means that border crossings are much more difficult than they were 40 years ago.

This is the sort of book that will ignite that adventurous rally spirit in you and, in the case of the reviewer, wish that he could experience the immensity of the event some 40 years on. We thoroughly recommend it.

“The Daily Mirror 1970 World Cup Rally – the world’s toughest rally in retrospect” by Graham Robson.

RRP $69.95 + postage and handling



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