The Historic Rally Association is this weekend celebrating 52 years since the running of the first BP Rally of South Eastern Australia in 1958, with the running of the 2010 BP Ultimate Rally.

The BP rally ran continuously from 1958 to 1973 as a tough four day rally across Victoria and into adjoining states, always run on Mothers Day weekend, with challenging navigation and driving conditions when May used to be wetter than it has been in recent years. It has been conducted at roughly five year intervals since as “The Old BP Rally”, although the most recent edition was in 2008.

The BP rally was organised for the first nine years by Donald Thomson, a motorsport legend, who had a clear philosophy for the rally:

“Roads should be obscure, certainly; they should even include some which are rough or abandoned, but the best test is to pick a fair average of surfaces such as might generally be encountered by an Australian traveller outback,” he said.

“If you want to find the types of car – and men – who are best suited to the outback areas of our great and pretty empty land, then you must design a representative test.

“Road surfaces should include stretches of bitumen, gravel, pot-holes, grass and dirt. Speeds should be those used by a reasonable man determined to reach home by nightfall.

“Commonsense and initiative is said to be characteristic of Australians, and victory or defeat in these tours usually depends on that quality combined with determination and sportsmanship for which Australians also have a name,” Thomson added.

This year’s BP Ultimate Rally will continue that approach, starting on Thursday, May 6 in Pakenham and heading east to Gippsland, then over the mountains to North Central Victoria. It then heads into the Mallee before returning south to a Ballarat finish in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The rally will be confined to historic rally cars built before 1985, with most from the 60’s and 70’s. They range from a 1936 MG SA having a warm up run before tackling the Peking Paris Rally in September, 1951 Peugeot 203, 1966 Mercedes Benz 300SE and 1967 Triumph 2.5PI along with a brace of older Datsuns, Peugeots, Volvos, Galants, Escorts and a sample of Holdens (HQ, Torana, Gemini and Commodore). While well maintained, the crews are not afraid to take their cars onto remote mountain and Mallee tracks.

A special luncheon to celebrate 52 years of BP Rallies will be conducted on Sunday after the rally at Dowling Forest Racecourse, on the edge of Ballarat. The organisers are trying to locate as many competitors as possible from the original BP Rallies to come along for the nostalgic celebration.

More information about the 2010 BP Ultimate Rally can be obtained from, and for information about BP Ultimate, please visit


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