Rally sport has always captured the imagination of the public, the direct link between your dad’s car and a similar version being driven within inches of its life through a forest stage or through the Alps triggers off the adrenaline and memory for any petrol head of a certain age.
The Historic Rally Car Register was formed by a group of enthusiasts to help preserve the cars that represented the golden age of Rally sport. With a global membership of 1,400 covering every significant manufacturer, the HRCR held their annual open day at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The event represents the many individual clubs who participate in over 70 events a year all over the country. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the RAC rally’s first use of forest stages, a series of forums and talks have been organised with actual key members of the BMC Competition Departments team on hand to discuss their memories, as well as other speakers discussing events, car preparation and driver advice to both HRCR members and the public.
The club is open to cars registered before 1991 and encourages organised rally sport at a competitive or even just a leisurely level. It caters for both professional time-shaving talent in MK1 Ford Escorts or those interested in simply touring the roads of the UK in a convoy of like-minded enthusiasts. Like all rally events, there are categories, depending on the age of the car, engine size and level of experience. Most if not all of the HRCR sanctioned events are organised, marshalled and run by volunteers, who will endure the usual unpredictable British weather, as well as dedicate their time to make sure the events are run safely and professionally. Visit their website at https://www.hrcr.co.uk/ for more details on events, membership and how to get involved.
The event offered an insight into the dedication and hard work that goes into this level of motorsports. When you consider the costs of mechanics, tyres, accommodation, as well as car maintenance, the costs can easily spiral into thousands of pounds per event but what is a person without a hobby? There are cheaper options though, with scenic tours costing as little as £120.
This green South African Mini Cooper S could be the kind of car that you could easily walk by but is significant for its locally made seats, and different roof seams. It’s also fitted with several unique parts, such as front reflectors, external rear window hinges and catches.
This Austin Maxi is almost as legendary as her driver, the always amiable Bronwyn ‘Bron’ Burrell seen here promoting her other passion. This very early 1500 example affectionately known as ‘ Puff the Magic Dragon’ competed in the World Cup Rally in 1970 and both lady and machine are just as strong today. Furthermore, the car will be returning back to mark 50 years of the event with both Bron and her original co-driver, Tina Kerridge, to Mexico this year to compete in the Mission to Mexico 2020 event. Find out more here: http://www.puffthemagicwagon.co.uk/
It’s not just timed runs through tracks in remote forests chasing Clubman Champion titles but the HRCR also hosts a multiple of events that offer scenic tours in the most picturesque parts of the UK, also offering fine dining and comfy hotels en route!
To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the RAC connection, a number of cars that actually took part in 1960 were evident including this aluminium bodied Frog eyed Sprite and this competition department prepared Jaguar MK2.
Of the numerous clubs at the event, the Owen Motor Club is one of the longest established clubs in rally sport. Named after Sir Alfred Owen, the Owen Racing Organisation was a major benefactor to the BRM F1 team. Organisers of the club turned up in these recent rally heroes, including this 46 WRC winning Group A 1990 Lancia Delta HF and this low mileage and very original 1998 Group N Homologated Peugeot 106 Rallye.
A chance for friends and competitors to catch up. Despite its huge popularity, the MGB is something of a forgotten hero in the golden age of rally cars. Tunable, plentiful and relatively cheap to buy, the B has a lot to offer for those considering the world of endurance and rally events.
Paddy Hopkirk MBE is the HRCRs president and was on hand to also pose for a few photographs. He turned up in a very different car to his 1964 Monte Carlo winning Cooper S but it’s still a Mini! Hopkirks original car is on display as a permanent exhibit in the museum.
Two Volvos on display, showing their heritage in historic rally sport. Volvo was used throughout the ‘50s and 60’s thanks to their strength and excellent road holding. They were simple, reliable cars that were easy to tune. Unfortunately, it’s compatriot, the Saab 96 was more successful and tends to overshadow Volvos not inconsiderable competition history.