RSM welcomes NSW rally corresponedent

RallySport Magazine welcomes Michael Bannon to our editorial team, as our New South Wales correspondent.

A Newcastle native, Michael has been involved in rallying all his life and as well as competing himself, his has been the president of the AMSAG rally series since 2017.

Michael will be providing weekly updates from the NSW and ACT rally scene throughout 2021, reporting on events, competitors, and other aspects of the sport that are making waves.

We’re excited to have Michael on the team, and look forward to his contributions moving forward.

About Michael Bannon

Lives: Newcastle/Hunter Valley NSW

Occupation: Insurance Claims Officer

I have grown up around rallying, ever since my mum Margaret met my stepdad Michael Bramble when I was about 5 years old. Mum and I used to service for Michael with family friends when he competed in various events across NSW in the late 80s.

My first event memory is attending a Bega Valley Rally in around 1989. It’s memorable to me as I ended up with a jack handle in the middle of my forehead following a slight mishap at the Imlay Road Service Park on a cold and wet night. It’s a long running tale told whenever the days of old come up!

I always loved travelling all over the state going to events when my Mum started navigating for Dad in the early 90s. The long road trips were always fun as a kid growing up, especially given I was the only child around as all of my parents friends had not yet had kids. I was always treated like one of the adults, which made me feel a part of the team.

I started competing myself in 2001, navigating for my cousin Mark Bramble in the AMSAG Southern Cross Rally Series. We started off in a Holden VB Commodore (photo attached from our first event) that we shared with Jim Middleton.

NSW correspondent, Michael Bannon, and with stepdad Michael Bramble (top).

Our first event, the Port Macquarie Rally, was a memorable one as our hotel room was broken into the night before the event. The only things not taken were Mark’s wallet, our helmets and the rally car keys. I also found my nav’s bag hanging on a street sign across the road from our hotel.

Michael Bannon as part of the service crew at the 1989 Bega Valley Rally.

We managed to get to the start of the event as Car 46 and from memory we finished around the low 20s (21st I think). From that point on we were hooked well and truly. I used to sit in with both Mark and Jim at various AMSAG rallies for several years, until Mark and I decided to build the Mitsubishi Galant Coupe which we have run for at least the last 12 or so years.

In 2010 I joined the AMSAG Steering Committee as I wanted to give back to the sport I loved. And then in 2017 I took on the role of President of AMSAG.

I have tried to work hard to bridge the gap between AMSAG and Motorsport Australia (CAMS) to show people that AMSAG aren’t the rogue warriors that seemed to be the perception in some corners of the sport.

I like to think that people now see AMSAG as a viable alternative to running in Motorsport Australia events as in the end, we are all the same. We all want to get out there and have fun in the sport we love, and we need to work together to move the sport forward into the future, rather than fighting against each other.

I am really looking forward to this opportunity to contribute content to RallySport Magazine for all NSW events.

Michael's first event was with cousin Mark Bramble.

Career Highlights: Mark Bramble and I finishing runner up to Bill Brown and Trent Murphy in the 2009 AMSAG Southern Cross Rally Series. We had great battles through the year and it was really satisfying to have such a solid result in a car that we had built ourselves.

Also finishing 28th and 21st outright in the 2015 and 2017 Alpine Rally respectively, navigating for my dad Michael Bramble. The 2017 event was a particular standout given the weather conditions and the fact we managed to complete every stage that was run, without incurring a maximum time penalty.

That was hands down the hardest rally I have ever done. Just getting to the end was an accomplishment in itself. To be within a whisker of the top 20 in a very underpowered Datsun 1600 felt great.

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