Story and photos by Simon Wright
One of the highlights for the many fans who attend is the live Rally stage, which this year moved to a new course, situated nearer the main exhibition halls than in previous years. Another new feature this year was the addition of a ‘yump’ in the middle of the main straight. This was designed to let the powerful Group B rally cars of the 1980’s get airborne. Some of the cars attacked it with vigour, leaping all four wheels clear of the ground. Others slowed down and carefully drove over it at reduced speed. There was one unfortunate incident when a Peugeot lost control after landing from the ‘yump’ and it spun across the grass and knocked down the spectator safety fence, but fortunately no one was hurt.
The new layout gave improved spectator viewing of the tarmac stage with a raised spectator bank at one end of the course. A great variety of cars were provided by the Rallying with Group B club and a selection of modern special rally cars from the British Rally Championship. The stage was run as a demonstration, so it is not timed. This does not stop most of the competitors from driving flat out to entertain the fans. This years line up included an Audi Quattro, a trio of MG Metro 6R4 rally cars, various Ford Escorts including an ex-works Rothmans car, a glorious Triumph TR7 in works colours and most of Russell Brookes Andrews Heat for Hire rally cars, including Ford Escort, Vauxhall Chevette, Opel Manta and Talbot Sunbeam. Bring the entry right up to date was an Aston Martin GT rally car that sounded fantastic as it took to the stage.
Celebrating 30 years of the Audi Quattro’s ground breaking 4 wheel drive system in 2010, the first car on the course was a 1985 Audi Quattro Sport S1 E2 driven by Garry Midwinter, resplendent in the works HB yellow and white colour scheme, similar to the car used by Stig Blomqvist to win the 1984 World Rally Championship. The Quattro attacked every single corner of the 0.5 mile stage and flew across the yump, all 4 wheels clear of the ground. Stig Blomqvist was also present at the show and drove an Aston Martin GT round the course, still showing all his talent which made him a World Champion.
Another spectacular and unusual rally car was the 1986 Ferrari 308GTB of Tony Worswick. Usually rallied in Europe on Tarmac events, it was well suited to the Race Retro stage. The unusual part was that as it took the ‘yump’ every time, the rear of the car would catapult high in to the air, leaving the car in a nose down position. Not unusual if the engine were in the front, but the Ferrari is a mid-engine configuration!
Most unusual and probably also the most entertaining was a 1973 Chevrolet Firenza from the South African rally championship. Driven by Mick Strafford, it was sideways at every corner, leaping high over the yump and doing several 360 degree spins below the main spectator viewing bank, it proved a big hit with the fans.
As a warm up before the rally cars were let loose on the stage, part of the course was used by the British Historic Kart club to demonstrate various historic Karts. Of interest here was that Sports Car Digest contributor Ed McDonough was taking part driving a couple of different Karts. Ed was recently announced at a Karting meeting as “The oldest Karter in the World.” Whether or not if this is the case, he still shows a rapid turn of speed in these miniature speed machines.
Rally Stage at 2010 Race Retro – Photo Gallery (click image for larger photo and description)
[Source: Simon Wright]