Monday 16 March 2015

A Bit About Me

I began competing in rallies soon after learning to drive at the age of 18 in 1968.  I competed on my last event (so far) in 1992 but have been out quite often since then assisting or as  service crew for friends.

It was a great time to be involved in rallying, with most of the iconic cars being there during this same era.

My first rally car was the family's 1959 Ford Prefect 107E  and the last one was a 1987 Ford Sierra Cosworth 3 door which we built from a bare shell.  The Prefect had 39 bhp and the Sierra about 250+ bhp.

We went from small club 12 car night navigational exercises to large International rallies in various parts of Britain and  Europe.

We met a lot of like-minded people from all over and made a lot of good friends along the way.

We also spent a lot of money, but I wouldn't want to have missed it for anything.

 Rallying is very much a team sport and I was very lucky to have a group of good folk around to help and make it all happen at each stage of the journey. Most of them were fellow competitors who gave their time to help us and we tried to do the same in return.

This is their story as much as mine.

Sunday 24 March 2013

The People

This page will be an account of some/all of the people involved.

Co-drivers, service crew members, "sponsors" and all those we met and who helped along the way.

Here is a picture to be going on with, photo from 1990 taken outside the  Corner Pub  in Ypres, Belgium.

From left to right back row, Mark Poole,  Fred Brunsdon, Pat ??, Barry Sugondo, Geoff East, Chris Riley, Frank Round.
In the front with flowers(!) Russ Cooper, Oliver Tomlins with trophy.

Trying to list all the people who have helped along the way is pretty much impossible but lets start with the navigators/co-drivers that I can remember.  If I leave anyone out please feel free to shout.

Oliver Tomlins (about 60 events), Malcolm Jones(28), Linda Craske(15), Sue Sanders(7), Frank Round(6), Pete Raine(6), Dominic Hodge(3), Kathie Best(3), Chris Riley(2), Terry Harrison(2), Rick Lees(2), Martin Saunders(2), Bob Tozer(2), Maf Wilkins(2), Geoff East(1), Bob Major(1), Trevor Panter(1), Brian Roseblade(1), Tony Williams(1), Alan Say(1), Barry Sugondo(1), Stuart Taylor(1), Lisa Mitchell(1), Sally Prout(1).

Oliver Tomlins has been with me for far more events than anyone else. I met him at school and we did our first rallies together back in 1968. We have been great friends to this day. Its hard to explain but we developed a kind of unspoken understanding in the car so that many things became almost second nature to us.

Malcolm Jones stood in when Oliver went to work for Shell Oil overseas in the 1970's but Oliver always did the rallies when he was back home on leave.

Linda Craske and I met when we competed against her and husband in Belgium. Later when they split up she moved in with me and we rallied together.

Sue Sanders was introduced to me when I needed a co-driver for the Rallysport Magazine Championship in 1981. We had a great time that year and won our class. She has since gone on to run the radio safety net on many top rallies like the Lombard RAC, and is today involved in running motorsport events all over the world. For example, the 2014 Race of Champions in Barbados and more recently this year (2015) events in Rwanda and Kazakhstan.

Frank Round had his own bodyshop business so when he offered to help in 1983 I jumped at the chance. We built the fantastic 2 litre Alfa Romeo powered Sunbeam in his workshop and he kept my cars going until he gave up the business in 1990 when he went to work for Mitsubishi Ralliart on their WRC team.

Pete Raine was a fellow member of 143 Motor Club back in the late 1960's. We did both road rallies and stage events between 1974 and 1976.

Dominic Hodge was another 143 MC member and we competed on four events together, three with Dominic navigating for me and one road rally when I navigated in his fiercesome Mini CooperS.

Kathie Best was another 143 MC member who did a lot of road and stage rallies as a navigator and some as a driver.  She navigated for a number of club members and several other drivers including James Prochowski.  She had quite a bad accident in Belgium with James and retired afterwards although she tried a couple of later test events with me. 

Chris Riley was another 143 MC member who competed in Mini's and later was a key member of my service crew, not to mention providing huge amounts of invaluable help building and running my Toyota Corolla and the Sierra Cosworth. He still helps me to this day tinkering with my TR7. 

Terry Harrison another 143 MC member who mostly did events with other drivers but sat in with me on two Wyedean rallies. Terry is currently working with Hyundai on their WRC programme.

Rick Lees another 143 MC member did three events with me in the late 1980's.

Martin Saunders was not a 143 MC member but was a top local road rally navigator who I persuaded to come along on the Cork 20 International and try pace-notes. Must have worked we finished 8th overall. 

Bob Tozer a 143 MC member, we did some local stage rallies together.

Maf Wilkins worked with me at Post Office Telecomms (later BT) and did a couple of local stage rallies.

Geoff East was an excellent co-driver for several well know drivers such as Charlie Eveson. He came along on a Belgian Open Championship event when none of my usual co-drivers were available. 

Bob Major, a 143 MC member and mechanic. We did the Welsh International together in 1975.

Trevor Panter worked with me at Post Office Telecomms and was a racing driver himself. He had never been on a rally so I asked him along for the experience. He got more experience than expected when I put us on the roof but we still went on to finish the rally.

Brian Roseblade was a navigator for several drivers in EMCOS motor club and came along on a couple of stage events.

Tony Williams was the sports editor of or local paper, the Stroud News and Journal.  I had just won the West Midlands Stage Championship in 1979 and asked him along as a publicity idea. We finished fifth overall and got a good write-up in the paper. 

Alan Say worked with me at BT. Alan had never seen a rally but came along on a local event where no navigation was required. We finished first overall so he went home with a winners trophy but vowed never to sit in a rally car again!

Barry Sugondo had his Toyota Corolla prepared by Frank Round at the same time Frank was helping me with my car. He sat in with me on a local stage rally as a bit of fun.

Stuart Taylor ran a travel agency organising ferries for us to Belgium and Ireland. He also competed himself and came along with me on one Belgian event.

Lisa Mitchell was a 143 MC member. She was going out with Dave Tigwell at the time but wanted to navigate on a stage rally. Dave was committed to championship events so she came with me.  

Sally Prout was the girl friend of a fellow 143 MC member, Clive Spencer. She wanted to do a rally but didn't trust his driving (!) so sat in with me.  Suffice to say I rolled the car.

Wednesday 2 January 2002

2002, Triumph TR7, new toy.

After I stopped rallying I finally realised I needed a new toy to give me something to tinker with and keep me out of mischief, and look what I ended up with

If any of you are desperate to read more about the TR7 go here...Russ's TR7 Blog

Monday 2 January 1995

Sunday 2 January 1994

Saturday 2 January 1993

1993, More Cossie fun

sorry preview pictures only,  text to follow asap

Ready for the West Cork

Back at digs after driveshaft failure
The other output shaft broke, this one was so close....

NO, I haven't run him over!

Chris is lying down on the job fixing the radiator