Legends remember the “golden era of rallying”
- 12th December 2007, 10:38am
The group assembled last weekend as close as practical to roads where legends were made.
Drivers like “Revs” Rowney, who drove over 4000km on three-cylinders in the 1979 Repco Trial in his Datsun 180B SSS, and Hal Maloney, who drove one of the only P76s in the event, attended.
Also there were other legends, like Peter Houghton, now 71, and Fred Chauncey, who said to Mike Bell, a former champion: “I tried and I tried, but I could never even get close to your times” in the 1978 NSW Clubman series.
Dave Morrow, former Holden Dealer Team driver, was there, along with Mal Sinfield, Andrew Cottam, Mike Cherry, Bernie Keast, Pat Roberts and many others. Sinfield is arguably rallying’s most informed person on the golden era. His ability to know who drove what, and in what, is uncanny! He knew every car and crew in every video, with the exception of the Finnish “crash” video played on the night!
Most assembled at Wayne “Lout” Pritchard’s workshop in steamy Wauchope for a trip down memory lane on Saturday morning, where various bits of Escorts lay in various parts of assembly, including his own Escort BDA. Pritchard has built cars for Ian Hill, Jim Richards and many others, and reports an ever-increasing interest in genuine classic car restoration and new builds.
One punter, commenting on seeing various parts of the BDA, commented: “Let’s get stuck in and we can have it ready for tonight”.
The Wauchope RSL took on the task of feeding and watering the assembled oldies, and Mark Robinson from EventX spooled up some old Sothern Cross Rally videos, where a number of attendees could see themselves (four sizes smaller and with hair!) being pushed through Gordonville Ford by a drunk on a tractor. It was interesting to note Garry Connelly navigating for Shinozuka in the factory Lancer. Garry, where was your Helmet mate? Oh well, it was 1976!
The talk eventually got around to rallying and how it’s progressed in 30 years. Whilst many where critical of the current scene, and most grumpy old men are, one could not deny that all were still passionate about what got them into the sport in the first place.
One comment that most agreed on was that rallying is now too expensive and that it’s become a sport for those with a lot of money. They agreed that a system that encourages cars valued more than most houses, and seems out of step with the vast majority of those who want to compete and enjoy rallying.
It was noted that the demise of venues like Amaroo Park have contributed to many car clubs not having venues where they can run supporting events to rallies, like dirt circuits or autocross-type events. Older clubs used to run these all the time, with many rally competitors using them for practice and honing of skills etc. Events are now shorter, and in many cases, are hardly a test of car and crew.
It was agreed that for rallying to survive and prosper, and for our kids to have the opportunity to sit around a club somewhere and watch videos of themselves in 30 years time, that fundamental change should occur to lower costs to compete.
The car yards are full of cars that could be used for rallying and provide real enjoyment for many years to come. Over 1000 years of collective rally experience in one room could suggest that maybe they were onto something - other than beer!
- Dallas Dogger
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