Sad News of LAC Stalwart

We very sad to impart the news to you all that our very good friend, colleague and companion Alwyn J Davis. MSc. died this morning following a short illness. He would have been 93 later this month.
Many of you will rember Alwyn as the person in charge of signing on at LAC events including 3 Sisters Sprints, Coast to Coast, Fellsman, Manchester to Blackpool and St Georges Day Runs.
He also ran controls on our events as well as providing radio coverage on the Wales Rally GB with David Bell.
He also took a lead role on our Committee being Chairman and President in the past as well as preparing much of the paperwork for our runs and social events.
He was diagnosed with C-19 10 days ago but stayed at home til last night when he suffered a heart arrhythmia , the para medics arrived, he was then. taken to hospital
His family were with him, other than his wife Margaret- who is unwell and also in hospital herself.
Alwyn and Margaret had only recently moved to be near their two daughters Katherine McFarlane and Marianne Dyer, their husbands (both of which are senior RAF Officers) and children.
David Bell added the following:
I last spoke to them both for a while on Christmas Eve and they were both settled in and pretty well ok. We discussed many topics, including Alwyn’s stated goal (on his 90th ) to do a Tiger Moth Wing Walk in 2021.
I got him interested in motorsport, and he joined The Lancashire Automobile Club over 30 years ago.
Having now reached the final control, He is, and will be very sadly missed. With his cheerfully smiley disposition. Sharp wit. Cheeky sense of humour  Wry smile. Knowledge of Welsh and a keen eye for perfection but above all , a man of integrity, honesty and a true friend ( especially in Malt )
Goodbye old chum
David

The 1964 Liege – Another view!

All of our ‘regular’ readers will be well aware of Mike Wood and John Wadsworth’s exploits on the 1964 Liege. I posted this story on a Facebook page and recieved a reply of another contestants, Doctor Beatty Crawford, reccollections of this car breaking event.
Our 1964 Spa-Sofia-Liege rally.
The Royal Motor Union Club wanted only one car to finish the Spa-Sofia-Liege rally. In 1964 they almost achieved their objective. Of ninety-seven starters just twenty-one made it to the finish and then only because the organisers extended the maximum lateness by two hours. Today it is difficult to believe just how hard this rally was, a virtually non-stop drive across the worst roads in Europe, from Belgium all the way through Yugoslavia to Bulgaria and back. Average speeds took no consideration of stops for fuel or food. There was virtually no servicing. From the start in Spa the rally went through Austria and into Italy, where the event began in earnest. After reaching Sofia in Bulgaria the rally simply turned around after one hour rest and began the long trek home with the timed runs over the gravel-covered, fearsome Vivione, Gavia and Stelvio Passes. This is from the obituary on the winning co-driver Tony Ambrose: “The 1964 Spa-Sofia-Liege was by general consensus the toughest road rally ever held in Europe, an event of a format that could never be held these days. Rauno Aaltonen still praises Ambrose’s part in their momentous victory in an Austin Healey 3000. Crews faced four days and nights with no scheduled chance to sleep: Tony planned it all, he forced me to sleep even at moments when I wasn’t so tired. He even drove one 77-mile section at night in 52 minutes. We were going at maximum speed, 150 mph, on cobbled roads amid unlit horses and carts, yet he was such a safe driver I slept through it all! He could have been just as good a driver as he was a co-driver.”
Adrian Boyd and I took part in a Humber Sceptre. We were sponsored by Alan Fraser Racing. Alan was a very wealthy, slightly eccentric, Rootes dealer in Hildenborough, Kent and took a liking to Adrian after he had won the Circuit of Ireland in 1958. He basically ran Rootes works prepared cars as a private entrant. We drove for him on the 1964 RAC rally in a Humber Sceptre and finished 21st overall. On the Circuit of Ireland we were given a Sunbeam Tiger but severely blunted its teeth when we aquaplaned off the road into a large rock on Sally’s Gap. Alan had entered two other cars, Bill Bengry and Ian Hall in a Sunbeam Rapier and John La Trobe and David Skeffington in a Humber Super Snipe.
We were like babes in the wood when it came to the Marathon. No recce or Tulips so all the route was on maps and I can tell you that the map in Yugoslavia was no better than a quarter inch to the mile. One of my jobs was to obtain cash for petrol and emergencies. I had envelopes for Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria since there were no credit cards in those days. Our only asset, so we thought, was young age and a slow but reliable car.
The first part of the route was easy. We departed Spa in southern Belgium, home of the F1 track and straight on to the German autobahns. Then off the autobahn onto A roads to Bregenz on the Austrian border. But we never even made it to Bregenz. At about 4.00 am a noise suddenly developed in the gearbox. A few miles later we were dead in the water. The gearbox drain plug had vibrated loose and fallen out. Loctite had been invented yet. Apparently the plug hadn’t been wired to prevent it loosening.
All we could do was sleep and wait until daylight. We were awaked at about 6.00am by German Polizei who had found us parked at the side of the main road. “Oh, oh” we thought we are in trouble, but no, in sign language and broken German we explained that we were “kaput.” The very friendly cops soon produced a rope and towed us to a garage in a village called Wangen. It was still only 7.00am and we waited another hour until the garage owner arrived. His name was Herbert Schek. He spoke English and we told him our story. He asked us where we were from and we said Northern Ireland. “Northern Ireland” he said, “Do you know Sammy Miller?” It turned out that he too was a top trials rider and was a great admirer and friend of Sammy.
From then on we were royally looked after. He took us to his house where we stayed. Herbert and his wife Annaline fed and watered us and he gave us the use of a hoist in his garage where we removed the broken gearbox. It was hard work since the two us had very little knowledge of anything mechanical. Meanwhile Adrian had phoned the bad news to Alan who arranged for a new gearbox to be shipped down by train from somewhere in Germany. It arrived next day and we soon had it installed and on our way again. We decided to meet up with the rally on its way back at a time control at the bottom of the Stelvio Pass.
We had no idea who would be still in the rally but both Bill and John arrived. Bill was from Leominster in Wales and many times “Motoring News Rally Champion” and very much a VW exponent. A bit like Robert McBurney, he was very good driver and an equally good mechanic. One of the major problems on the Marathon was punctures from nails on the roads in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. Bill would sit in the back seat while Ian drove and took off the tyre and repaired the puncture while on the move! We tried to help us much as we could in our limited way and I had bought green grapes for the crews. I put a large bunch on the driver’s seat but Bill in his hurry to get going again forgot and jumped in on top of the grapes. I’m sure by the time he got to the top of the Stelvio, the wine was good, if a bit warm.
We followed them to Liege in case they would get into trouble, back through the border at Bregenz. Who was waiting for us with all sorts of food and drinks but Franz and his wife Annalie. Talk about hospitality. Bill and John made it to the finish without any problem and so Alan Fraser had two cars finish out of the 21. A remarkable feat.
I sometimes regret not being able to complete the entire event but the rally was never held again. It had become too dangerous and too anti-social. On the other hand, if ever there was a rally where “It’s like beating your head against a wall, it’s great when you stop” applies, this was it.
This is from an article in Retrospeed.
Exactly forty-five years ago a big red Healey 3000 driven by Rauno Aaltonen and navigated by Englishman, Tony Ambrose won the infamous Liege-Sofia-Liege Rally outright. In fourth place and winner of the Coupe des Dames, driving the diminutive SAAB, was Pat Moss, already a household name, not just for being Stirling’s sister but for also winning the Liege in 1960. Husband-to-be, Eric Carlsson, also driving a SAAB made it into second place behind Rauno.
Today it is difficult to believe just how hard this rally was, a virtually non-stop drive across the worst roads in Europe, from Belgium all the way through Yugoslavia and back. Average speeds took no consideration of stops for fuel, food or routine maintenance. Service crews were anyway pretty useless as the route never passed the same place twice. From the start near Spa the rally led down through Austria into Italy where the event began in earnest. Thirty miles south of Bled, Bo Ljungfeldt rolled his works Mustang and leader Henry Taylor disappeared over the edge and fell one hundred feet into a ravine, luckily without injury. Georges Harris hit a truck in his Lancia Flaminia and was reported as dead but this later proved more than a mild exaggeration. Other well known exponents suffered setbacks including Sydney Allard, Timo Makinen and Roger Clark. All soldiered on albeit running quickly out of time. It really is difficult to describe the conditions, cars were expected to keep going for hours on end over unmade stone-covered roads. All three works Triumph 2000s expired within twenty miles of each other while the inevitable punctures delayed both Roy Fidler and Paddy Hopkirk. Vic Elford retired his Cortina after running head on into a wall near Kotor. After reaching Sofia in Bulgaria the rally simply turned around and began the long trek home with the timed descents of the gravel-covered passes of Vivione, Gavia and, naturally, the Stelvio designed to catch out the tired crews. Stories of hardship abound. Carlsson lost one of his two cylinders after the Gavia, driving the final fourteen hours on 425cc while for the first time ever a Mini, the 1293 Cooper S of John Wadsworth/Mike Wood not only lasted the distance, but finished in 20th position. Citroen, the only manufacturer to have a team finish intact, won the coveted Team Award.

WRGB 2021 Update

According to an article on the web site Dirt Fish the Ypres takes Rally GB’s slot on 2021 WRC calendar
The Belgian classic nearly made the WRC schedule last year, and it will now finally make its debut
Last year the World Rally Championship ran without a scoring round in the United Kingdom for the first time since its inception in 1973, but it is set to do so again in 2021.
Confirmation of a plan to replace the UK’s WRC round with Ypres Rally Belgium – in the same August date – is expected on Friday.
Britain’s future in the WRC has been complicated by dwindling backing from the Welsh Government in recent years. The planned Deeside-based 2020 event was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were hopes of rolling that funding into this season for one final farewell to Wales, the event’s host nation for the last two decades. Wales offered a swift and short answer to such a question: no.
Parallel to that, there has been growing support for a Belfast-based Rally Northern Ireland, funded by a three-way partnership between the Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Office and secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport Oliver Dowden.
Despite the best efforts of organizer Bobby Willis and Westminster’s leading WRC lobbyist Ian Paisley, agreement couldn’t be found in time to bring the WRC back to Northern Ireland – especially not at a time when the public purse is being directed towards dealing with the pandemic.
While no official comment has been forthcoming from any of the parties involved, DirtFish understands discussions in Belfast are ongoing for a possible 2022 event.
Last year the World Rally Championship ran without a scoring round in the United Kingdom for the first time since its inception in 1973, but it is set to do so again in 2021.
Confirmation of a plan to replace the UK’s WRC round with Ypres Rally Belgium – in the same August date – is expected on Friday.
Britain’s future in the WRC has been complicated by dwindling backing from the Welsh Government in recent years. The planned Deeside-based 2020 event was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were hopes of rolling that funding into this season for one final farewell to Wales, the event’s host nation for the last two decades. Wales offered a swift and short answer to such a question: no.
Parallel to that, there has been growing support for a Belfast-based Rally Northern Ireland, funded by a three-way partnership between the Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Office and secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport Oliver Dowden.
Despite the best efforts of organizer Bobby Willis and Westminster’s leading WRC lobbyist Ian Paisley, agreement couldn’t be found in time to bring the WRC back to Northern Ireland – especially not at a time when the public purse is being directed towards dealing with the pandemic.
While no official comment has been forthcoming from any of the parties involved, DirtFish understands discussions in Belfast are ongoing for a possible 2022 event.
Last year the World Rally Championship ran without a scoring round in the United Kingdom for the first time since its inception in 1973, but it is set to do so again in 2021.
Confirmation of a plan to replace the UK’s WRC round with Ypres Rally Belgium – in the same August date – is expected on Friday.
Britain’s future in the WRC has been complicated by dwindling backing from the Welsh Government in recent years. The planned Deeside-based 2020 event was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were hopes of rolling that funding into this season for one final farewell to Wales, the event’s host nation for the last two decades. Wales offered a swift and short answer to such a question: no.
Parallel to that, there has been growing support for a Belfast-based Rally Northern Ireland, funded by a three-way partnership between the Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Office and secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport Oliver Dowden.
Despite the best efforts of organizer Bobby Willis and Westminster’s leading WRC lobbyist Ian Paisley, agreement couldn’t be found in time to bring the WRC back to Northern Ireland – especially not at a time when the public purse is being directed towards dealing with the pandemic.
While no official comment has been forthcoming from any of the parties involved, DirtFish understands discussions in Belfast are ongoing for a possible 2022 event.

Changes to Black & Silver Number Plates from 01.01.2021

The DVLA have announced changes concerning information on black and silver number plates which will take effect from 1 January 2021.

The changes being introduced on 1 January 2021 will affect the ability of vehicles registered in the historic tax class to display the old style pre-1973 black and silver number plates.

For details please click on link below.

https://fbhvc.co.uk/news/article/changes-to-black-silver-number-plates-from-01012021

FBHVC National Historic Vehicle Survey 2020.

In November, the FBHVC announced the headline results for the National Historic Vehicle Survey 2020. Starting from now they will also begin to release more detailed results for specific areas that the survey examined, in bitesize chunks. They start, with vehicle clubs.
This short fact file contains results from the 248 club surveys which formed part of the National Historic Vehicle Survey.
The average age of Clubs since formation that completed the Federation’s 2020 National Historic Vehicle Survey is 41 years. The survey reveals there are potential problems ahead for clubs who are not prepared and starting to take action, to read more download the PDF via the link below.

FBHVC National Historic Vehicle Survey 2020: Environmental study results.

FBHVC National Historic Vehicle Survey 2020: Environmental study results.
 
It’s something we’ve heard before within certain sectors of society or within the media regarding historic vehicles; “OLD VEHICLES ARE DIRTY, SMELLY & POLLUTING!”
 
The fact is though, that this is simply not true. The 2020 National Historic Vehicle Survey sought to put real world and quantifiable facts and figures in place to explain just how the historic vehicle movement affects the carbon output of the UK.
 
In the next of our ‘detailed study’ releases following on from the announcement of our headline results last month, you can download our Environmental Fact File below.
The FBHVC is working towards creating a carbon off-set programme that will be available to all historic vehicle owners and allow enthusiasts to achieve carbon zero for their historic vehicle use. For more information please contact: environmental@fbhvc.co.uk.
Click on link below for full details:
https://mcusercontent.com/76df5387dac518366cae59ba6/files/58262fb9-beac-42af-b70b-1dc6a124ee54/Environmental_Factfile_V2.2_18_Dec_20.pdf

Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs CHRISTMAS NEWSLETTER

A word from our Chairman… 

What a year! Who would have thought if I had written this message twelve months ago that 2020 could unfold as it has?

Of course, there has been sadness, I have lost two close relatives to COVID-19 and many other enthusiasts have been affected in a similar way.
But equally many people have learned new skills, how many had heard of Zoom calls at the beginning of the year? These digital means of communication can open new horizons to clubs large, small or clusters of enthusiasts with an interest in a particular model. Many of you dialled in to our virtual AGM and it delivered our directors’ reports into many homes on a Saturday morning. Our President, Lord Steel, wrote to me immediately following the meeting to say he had greatly enjoyed watching the board members’ making their presentations and this will certainly be a facet that we adopt for future meetings even if they are more traditional in format.

What else that is positive has happened? Well, we have heard of many stalled projects being invigorated and we can all look forward to vehicles taking to our roads that we may not have seen before. A couple of weeks ago I ‘taxed’ my 1936 Carter Invalid Carriage for the first time in 24 years. It had been the sole mode of transport for a disabled lady, Elizabeth, for forty years from when she was aged 26 . . . and it is green being powered by a 36-volt electric motor, another addition to my fleet of historic electric vehicles!

Already many people are looking forward to the vaccines being in place and increasing freedom. We sense anticipation in the minds of enthusiasts who are looking forward to making up on lost ground in 2020. I received a Christmas card yesterday with a note saying the club had six race meetings planned next year.

We know Clarion Events are busy planning the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, with Discovery for November and already taking bookings. They have prudently planned the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show for June and in these past few days my Inbox has been filling with further announcements from Beaulieu, Goodwood and others. I sense many celebrations in 2021!

The Federation has its own exciting development in 2021 with Drive It Day on Sunday 25th April being held in support of Childline®.  There is no doubt the pandemic has caused angst in the lives of many children and we are pleased the historic vehicle movement is able to contribute to supporting our younger generation. Rally plates are on sale now on driveitday.co.uk and there is an opportunity to list the events you plan.

As I have been typing these words, the news broadcasts are full of the new and much tighter “Tier 4” restrictions now in place over Christmas but we are where we are. There is hope for the New Year and we should celebrate Christmas as best we can. The Federation team sends their best wishes for the holiday and we look forward to meeting you all in 2021!

David Whale
Chairman, FBHVC.

Paddy Hopkirk MBE takes delivery of new Limited Edition MINI, named in his honour.

Paddy Hopkirk MBE takes delivery of new Limited Edition MINI, named in his honour.
Northern Irish rally driver Patrick ‘Paddy’ Hopkirk MBE is among the first of just 100 customers in the UK to receive the MINI Paddy Hopkirk Limited Edition, named in his honour to commemorate his triumph at the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in the classic Morris Mini Cooper S Mk1.
When asked what the special edition means to him Paddy said, “I’m so flattered to have a MINI named in my honour. Motorsport is long behind me now and for my win at the Monte Carlo Rally to be remembered in this way is a great thrill and honour. The designers at MINI have done a wonderful job. They’ve got a lot of the features on it just like the classic Mini I took to victory, with the number 37, the bonnet stripe and the colours – it reminds me of my very lucky days and wonderful memories.”
The Paddy Hopkirk Limited Edition is based on the MINI Cooper S 3-Door Hatch and available with automatic or manual transmission. The engine delivers 178hp and 280Nm torque, reaching 0-62mph in just 6.7 seconds (6.8 manual).
Patrick ‘Paddy’ Hopkirk clinched the first victory behind the wheel of the classic Mini Cooper S number 37 at the Rally in 1964. Driving the small British car with his English co-pilot Henry Liddon, Hopkirk overcame the odds against competitors with significantly greater engine power.
Reminiscing about the Monte Carlo Rally and his win, Paddy added “Everybody wanted to win the Monte Carlo Rally, it was a very glamorous event, so when I joined the British Motor Corporation and the Mini came along it surprised the world. It became a David and Goliath with the might of the other car manufacturers spending a fortune to try and win the event. We were beaten by the big American cars down the straights, but we would beat them on the twisty bits! For the Mini to win against really powerful cars, showed just how good it was – it made the car famous.”
The MINI Paddy Hopkirk Edition is available to order now at retailers nationwide, priced from £28,200 OTR.
Watch the full interview with Paddy Hopkirk here:

For more information visit www.mini.co.uk

Mike Wood’s 1963 Monte Carlo Rally

With this years world rally championship now wrapped up it’s time to look forward to the first event of 2021 the Monte Carlo Rally.
Thought this article by Mike Wood about the 1963 event would add to your interest.
1963 MONTE CARLO RALLY
By
Mike Wood
This is my story of the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally, my third Monte that I entered with the late great Geoff Mabbs, a good driver, and a true friend.
I had competed on the event for the first time in 1958 with John Waddington in a works Triumph TR3A. On the 1959 event I was in a privately entered Jaguar 3.4 with two Yorkshiremen, Brian Waddilove and Greg Wood, and In 1963 I was invited by Geoff to co-drive with him in his privately entered Mini Cooper, albeit with some works support. Geoff was one of the nicest rally guys around at that time and was considered a highly competitive driver, particularly at international level. He never became a regular full works driver but nearly always attracted some degree of factory support, probably due to his outright win on the 1961 Tulip Rally beating all the established works teams in his own Triumph Herald Coupe.
We knew that our start control would be Paris and Geoff let me know that the Paris starters had been allocated the early numbers, our own competition number was 28. I remember making a joke at the time, saying that with a little bit of luck, we could be the first car into Monte Carlo. Little did I know how true that joke would turn out to be?
In 1963 Monte was made up of three segments. The first segment was the concentration run which terminated from every starting point in the town of Chambery. The second segment was the combined route which every competitor went over, lasting about 9 hours and interspersed with various classification tests (special stages). The third segment was a race around the Monaco Grand Prix race circuit. Cars were to be divided into various groups and were then required to complete 3 laps per group. Two years on, the infamous mountain circuit would replace this fascinating part of the rally.
At the start of the rally we drove out of France into Belgium and then on into Holland. I remember this as we had a control at The Hague. I also remember that on the way to the Hague control I was doing my stint of driving on a stretch of Dutch autobahn. There was plenty of snow on the road and for some reason I must have lifted my foot off the pedal quickly and, for no reason at all, the car spun completely around crossing the centre strip. There was no barrier in those days, and I finished up on the opposite carriageway. Geoff had been sleeping and of course woke up with all the commotion going on. When I told him what had happened and that we were now going in the opposite direction, he simply said that I had better get it back through the gap I had caused and get on my way. With that comment he duly went back to sleep. I think the only damage sustained was a bent number plate, which remained bent throughout the event.
From Holland we meandered our way through France towards Chambery. Now came the important part of the event, over 9 hours of hard driving from Chambery to Monte Carlo over the southern French Alps, via many special stages and difficult road sections. With light snow falling in Chambery, and in the darkness of late afternoon, we left the time control 28 minutes after competitor No.1. We headed for the mountains and the first special stage which started about 7 kms. out of Chambery.
This first stage was probably the longest on the whole event, about 45 kms in distance, rising and descending over three high Cols, the Col du Granier, the Col du Cucheron and the Col du Porte. The weather was atrocious with the snow coming down quite heavily, but Geoff was brilliant, nochance of driving flat out, but he kept a good speed up and, more importantly, kept the car on the road. Eventually we reached the end of the stage unscathed with the town of Grenoble shimmering in the valley below us.
After this stage, we had to find our way across Grenoble to the next stage, the Chamrousse. We were using the marvellous BMC route notes which had been excellently prepared and checked by one of the full-time rally crews, without these notes life would have been difficult. The Chamrousse test was about 39 kms, again going quite high with the snow continuing to fall. Geoff was again at his best and we got to the end going quite well with no excursions off the road.
After the Chamrousse test and continuing along the route, there were fewer tyre tracks being left in the snow from the competing cars that should have been running in front of us. With a few more stages to drive I remember asking about competitors running in front of us. It was not until we arrived in Gap that we got a positive answer to this question. Gap was the first point since leaving Chambery that we had some time in hand, we had not lost any time on the way. BMC had arranged a large service prior to the control area, along with all the other big teams, and with the few extra minutes we had in hand we managed to give the car a thorough check over. The Gap control was about half-way from Chambery to Monte Carlo and there was plenty of hectic mileage still left, so it was essential to make sure the car was in good order.
At the time control and with a couple of minutes in hand I was able to ask the marshal in charge how many cars were running in front of us. His answer was very French; non, we were the first car in the rally to check in, indeed my signature on his check sheet confirmed this. As we were now the first car running in the event, our tyres were leaving tracks for others to follow. Whilst it was still dark, I can remember looking back several times to see if I could see any headlights following, but I never could. We were having a lonely rally.
The last special stage was the infamous Col du Turini and there we had the usual efficient BMC service prior to the test. I remember this well as we were offered special Dunlop studded tyres for the stage. This was the advent of studded tyres and these Dunlop ones were crude at that time. I think from memory that they did not have more than about 40 studs per tyre and even these were screwed in from the inside of the tyre. We gladly accepted the tyres, but I cannot honestly say that they made any difference to our stage times, in any case by now we could smell the Mediterranean and were more concerned in getting through the last few kilometres in one piece.
The final approach to Monte Carlo ran from the back of Nice, through the village of La Trinite and up to La Turbie which is on the top corniche overlooking Monte. We bobbed over the top into the village and there below us was one of the greatest sights in the world, Monte Carlo and the blue Med shimmering in the sunshine. At the next junction out of La Turbie on the road down to Monaco we were immediately confronted by two gendarmes on their BMW motorcycles who started to flag us down. We wondered what we had done wrong, but without stopping us they gesticulated that we should follow them. There then started one of the fastest parts of the rally and we realised that, because we were the first rally car on the road, we were getting a typical French high-speed escort to the final control.
I remember arriving on to the promenade in Monte with veteran GP driver and past rally winner Louis Chiron standing by the control waving the chequered flag at us. The world’s press was also there, and we got a huge reception. We knew we had crossed the finishing line first but knew that the rest would soon be following. We did allow ourselves the thought however, that there might have been a large avalanche behind us and that we might be the only finishers. We would have won everything then, including the Coup des Dames!
We enjoyed our moment of glory for a short while but of course the other competitors started to arrive. I cannot remember how many made it to Monte Carlo, I suspect quite a few were off the road or out of time. The leader of the rally after the road section was Eric Carlsson in a works SAAB, in second place was Pauli Toivonen in a works Citroen and in third place was Rauno Aaltonen in a works Mini Cooper.
There now only remained the race around the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. This was divided up into various groups of cars each doing three laps. It was quite an enjoyable test for the co-drivers as we did not have to accompany our drivers. It was very relaxing for us all to sit enjoying a beer or two, watching our drivers perform on their own for a change. The outcome of the races did not alter the leading places, however. Eric Carlsson and Gunnar Palm in the SAAB won the rally. Pauli Toivonen in the Citroen was second and Rauno Aaltonen and Tony Ambrose in the Mini Cooper were third. Paddy Hopkirk in a works Mini Cooper was 6th overall.
Finally, what position did we finish the event? Well we were classified a very creditable 18th overall and took away the Autosport Trophy for the best placed British private entry.
The 1963 Monte Carlo Rally may not have been my most successful Monte but it was probably my most enjoyable one and I have always been proud of our final 18th overall position as a private entry. Not only was Geoff Mabbs an extremely good driver, he was one of the nicest guys rallying during the 60’s. He had a wonderful sense of humour and he never let anything worry him for long. He never quite became a full works driver, but he could nearly always command some sort of factory support from the various team managers of that era. Sadly, Geoff died at a young age in the late 1970’s, he is still much missed by those who remember him from that wonderful “Golden Age of Rallying”.
If you like Mikes article don’t forget he has written a book ‘The Last Liege’ which goes into some detail about the Liege event ran and how he and John Wadsworth were the only crew to get a Mini to the finish of this car breaqking event. Ring Mike on 01282 771563 for details.