As I noted in an earlier post a couple of weeks ago, I am reading Graham Robson’s book “World Cup Rally 40” about the 1970 World Cup Rally. Robson claims that this might have been the greatest rally of all the major rallies. He certainly makes a strong case particularly in the South American portion. The rally took place over public roads and the times/speeds were set such that even the top teams, and sometimes all of the teams, took penalties in terms of minutes not just seconds.
The European portion of the rally route is shown below. The route started in Wembley Stadium in London and then crossed over into Europe, on to Sofia, and then turning westward to Lisbon in Portugal.
World Cup Rally European Route
When the cars reached Lisbon, they were loaded onto a cargo ship and taken to Rio De Janeiro for the South American portion of the rally which ultimately ended in Mexico City, where the World Cup was being held in 1970. The rally was promoted in conjunction with the 1970 World Cup of soccer, so the rally route went through most of the major soccer countries in Europe and South America.
World Cup Rally South American Route
It is taking me some time to get through the book, as aside from normal things that get in the way of reading a good book, it is full of interesting accounts of the rally, the cars, and the people involved in it. One of the things that stood out to me in the first part of the book is the extent of the effort that some manufacturers put together to participate in this rally. In retrospect the most disappointing aspect of this is the ultimate fate of the British Leyland team. British Leyland was a major rallying force in 1970, but only 10 years later, they were effectively “belly up”. The downfall of this once great manufacturer is a sad story. The picture below shows the British Leyland team and their cars for the 1970 World Cup Rally.
British Leyland’s World Cup Rally Team
I’ll try to list the team members from left to right: Brian Culcheth, Johnstone Syer, Tony Nash, Paddy Hopkirk, Neville Johnston, Rosemary Smith, Alice Watson, John Handley, Paul Easter, Team Manager Peter Browning with dog, Brian Coyle, Uldarico Ossio, Andrew Cowan, Peter Evans, Mike Scarlett, Terry Kingsley, “Gelignite” Jack Murray, Hamish Cardno, and Evan Green. The British Leyland official team had four Triumph 2.5 PI sedans, two Austin Maxis, and one Mini. The highly-tuned Mini was to function as an early “jack rabbit” to push or entice the other manufacturer’s entries to do something risky which might result in a DNF and was not considered by British Leyland as a finishing vehicle. This turned out to be the case – it was fast, but it expired in Italy after four days.
It’s hard to believe that British Leyland went down the tubes 10 years later. I’ll have more about this rally in the upcoming weeks.