1967 - 76 Racing Ahead
The Barbados Rally Club’s second decade started on a high note, with the staging of the 10th Anniversary June Rally, an ambitious 500-mile event and the third sponsored by Esso. Chairman since 1963, Trevor Gale had long been an advocate of overnight rallies, but had been out-voted every time he proposed one to the committee; it was felt that drivers and navigators would get bored, take off for home in the interval, then not return to finish the task . . . but a trip north up the island chain changed that perception.
In September 1966, the same year he had won the June Rally, Gale accepted an invitation from the Jamaica Motoring Club to compete in a 750-mile navigational event; he took his Triumph TR4 and navigator Ralph Branch, while Bill Mallalieu, his brother Mark and John Sealy were in Bill’s Volvo 122s and Bobby Gill, Willie Hassell and Andrew Medford were in the former’s MG1100 – unlike Barbados, the Jamaicans allowed three to a car.
Gale remembers the event well: “They had a very high average speed of 45mph, when ours was only 25 to 30mph. We missed our way on the first route, then again on the second route – we ended up driving down a dry river bed at about two miles an hour, just picking our way from stone to stone. We were way off by the dinner halt, then when we started the car afterwards some wiring caught fire – I had installed a reversing light, the new wiring burnt out the windscreen wipers; we would not have been able to see after a splash, so we dropped out. The others all finished, but we had still done enough to collect a trophy for winning our class.”
With fellow committee members now convinced that a much longer rally was possible, Gale guaranteed to find at least 390 miles of road before the route travelled over any section twice . . . and he succeeded. Mallalieu and Sealy were the first winners at the new distance, in Mallalieu’s Alfa Romeo Sprint but, while it was a challenge, the laws had not yet been changed to allow special stages on public – or even private – roads. Mallalieu and Sealy did admit to boredom on several occasions . . . “the last time they were ever able to make that admission”, Gale was to write later!
In 1968, the Club invited its first overseas competitors, crews from the Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad boosting the entry to 60, of whom all but one started; this year also marked the first success for Richard Cummins and Richard Rose, who were to establish themselves as formidable contestants, initially in an automatic Holden Special. After finishing third in a slowly disintegrating Mini Countryman in 1969 – that year, the winners were a combination of youth and experience, as Andrew Medford navigated for Stumpy Goddard in the latter’s last rally – Cummins and Rose won again in 1970, this time in a Singer Vogue. Twelve years later, they would become the first crew to win the event three times, something they might have achieved as early as 1971; in an interview at the time, Rose said: “We finished second overall, but could have won, as we were leading up to the final section, but we lost through our own negligence.” Even so, as Cummins said: “I really enjoyed the 1971 rally, as it was much more of a driver’s rally. The Chairman put in about 25 miles of special stages, and the Datsun SSS was well-suited to that.”
Read More in 0-50: The Barbados Rally Club, 1957-2007.
Written by Robin Bradford.
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