Last weekend Fred Gallagher completed his final Rally GB as the Clerk of the Course. As he stepped aside, he was honored for his long service to this major World Championship Rally. The Rally GB folks issued a press release about Fred stepping aside which I have reproduced in its entirety for this post. Their report did a great job outlining some of Fred’s rally career.
Fred Gallagher Honored By Rally GB And Presented By Petter Solberg
The following is the story as written by the Rally GB folks and I have added my own comments following the Rally GB story:
“Wales Rally GB bade a fond farewell today to one of its staunchest supporters and most loyal servants – as Clerk of the Course Fred Gallagher confirmed his retirement from the role on the eve of his 20th event.
Gallagher has enjoyed a long and proud career in rallying at the very highest levels of the sport, co-driving for no fewer than five World Rally Champions. The Ulsterman made his WRC debut alongside John Haugland in a Skoda 120 on the 1975 RAC Rally – the forerunner to Wales Rally GB.
In 1981, he embarked upon a successful partnership with the late Henri Toivonen, firstly in a Talbot Sunbeam and subsequently an Opel Ascona, before switching to Toyota in 1984 where he navigated for another ‘Flying Finn’, Juha Kankkunen.
In 1986, Gallagher joined Björn Waldegård and the pair won the fearsome Safari Rally at their first attempt together – his second of three triumphs on the gruelling African event. It was a working relationship that would endure all the way up to 1992.
Other greats of the sport to be delivered pace notes by the Northern Irishman included world champions Ari Vatanen – with whom he won the 1997 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – and Petter Solberg, making it fitting that the latter was on-hand to help celebrate his former co-driver in Deeside. The 2003 World Rally Champion is similarly being honoured at the event as this year’s ‘Rally Legend’.
After hanging up his co-driving helmet, Gallagher went on to work with the FIA Rally Safety Group and in 1996 was appointed Clerk of the Course on Rally GB – a position he has held to this day.
At today’s traditional pre-event press conference, he was presented with a special collage by Solberg, featuring images of the winning crew from every edition of Rally GB over which he has officiated. The Norwegian triumphed on four of those events – in consecutive years between 2002 and 2005 – the most of any driver under Gallagher’s watch.
“Ben Taylor [Managing Director of Wales Rally GB] has done a great job and has taken this event even beyond where it was 20 years ago,” Gallagher remarked. “It has brought it back and surpassed the levels from before and I’m proud to have played a small part.
“Wales Rally GB has evolved massively and it’s as big a challenge as it’s ever been, but it’s a different challenge today. Its home here in north Wales has been brilliant; Wales has embraced the event to the full and I can’t see why it would go anywhere else.
“The highlights have been working with such a great team. The rallies you often remember are the ones where things go wrong, as that’s when you see how people respond. Our team has done that in the face of adversity, remaining strong and united and performing against the odds in difficult times. I’m obviously going to miss everybody, but motor sport will remain in my life as I start a new chapter in historic rallying.”
Solberg’s first event as a nominated points-scorer for Ford came on the 1999 Safari Rally – also his first event alongside Gallagher. The 2003 World Rally Champion remembers it clearly to this day.
“Fred has been a very important guy throughout my career,” he acknowledged. “The first thing to say is that I was crying after the shakedown on the Safari that year. Fred got me safely through the event and we finished fifth, with my team-mate Colin McRae winning – I recall the party afterwards in the pool very well!
“It was a pleasure to have him in the car during the first part of my career and we had some fantastic times. Of course, he has also gone on to do a wonderful job as Clerk of the Course at Wales Rally GB, and he deserves all the plaudits he’s received.”
Taylor was similarly present to pay tribute to Gallagher, praising the way in which he artfully transferred his keen eye for detail and excellent analytical skills from the cockpit to the organisational side of the sport.
“Those who have been around rallying for a lot longer than I have will know the name Fred Gallagher very well,” he reflected. “To give you a full biography of Fred’s remarkable and lengthy career would take forever, such are his achievements. We also looked at inviting everyone who drove with Fred over the years, but that would have required a full Boeing 747!
“This is his 20th and final Wales Rally GB as Clerk of the Course, but it will not be the end of his involvement in motor sport. Fred has been around for Wales Rally GB’s many incarnations over the years and played a huge part in its successes, so it’s only fitting that we mark this incredible milestone and wish him all the best in everything he does in the future.”
Following the conclusion of this weekend’s Wales Rally GB, Gallagher’s role will be assumed by Deputy Clerk of the Course and British Rally Championship Manager Iain Campbell.”
In addition to Fred’s competition history noted in the above Rally GB story, Fred was the co-driver for America’s John Buffum when John won the Cyprus Rally in 1984.
Fred Gallagher & John Buffum With First Place Hardware At Cyprus Rally 1984
Fred sat with John for a few events such as the 1984 Acropolis Rally shown below.
John Buffum & Fred Gallagher In The 1984 Acropolis Rally
Before John Buffum got involved with Audi, he spent a few years driving Triumph cars. The image below shows Fred Gallagher in 1978 while co-driving for John Buffum in a Triumph TR7.
John Buffum & Fred Gallagher In A Triumph TR7 In 1978
Fred is a long way from retiring from the rally scene. He is a Vice President of the Endurance Rally Association who put on such major long distance rallies as the 2015 Trans America Challenge and the upcoming 2016 Peking To Paris Motor Challenge.
Fred Gallagher Flags Off The First Car In The 2015 Trans America Challenge
Fred Gallagher continues to have an impressive rally career as he focuses more on the Endurance Rally Association.