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Motorsport Flashback – Kiwi rallying in the 1970s

Rallying arrived in New Zealand in 1973 like a tsunami. It had been only a few years since the sport was introduced here and shortly afterwards Heatway came on board as the sponsor to take rallying to a new level. The 1973 Heatway would be the longest and biggest yet, running in both islands with 120 drivers over eight days and covering some 5400 kilometres. The winner was 31-year-old Hannu Mikkola — a genuine Flying Finn who had been rallying since 1963 before putting any thoughts of a career on hold until he completed an economics degree. The likeable Finn became an instant hero to many attracted to this new motor sport thing. I was one of them.

Lunch with… Brian Lawrence

Hearing Brian’s stories at the Levin tribute day (see Motorsport Flashback) made me realise that despite knowing him for nearly 30 years, there was much about his involvement in motor sport that I didn’t know. Since the ‘Lunch with’ series started, we’ve made a point of focusing on other contributors to the sport beyond the drivers. I’ve ‘lunched with’ journalists, a photographer, mechanics, preparation wizards, and F1 team members, but never before a promoter. In the near future we have lunches planned with more drivers, a team owner, and a sponsor, but now is the time to interview Brian David Lawrence.

Croz: Straight up

During the COVID lockdown, Michael Clark had to forego lunches with motorsport celebrities but he interviewed motorcycle racer Graeme Crosby on his direct route into the Grand Prix ranks via Zoom.
“My first actual race was at Porirua on a circuit set up around the shopping centre. I was riding a little 350cc Kawasaki, an Avenger, which was a little two-stroke 350 rotary valve with something like 10hp. Suddenly, I found myself in third spot and I’m thinking this is actually pretty good. Anyway, I think I got in second spot and we only had a couple of laps to go and I overcooked a corner and ran wide. Health and safety back in those days required you to keep the crowd back, so they got a piece of rope and tied it around a 44-gallon drum, then a 10-metre gap, and another 44-gallon drum, and so on — and I went over the kerb at great speed. I still finished second — with one of those 44-gallon drums following behind in third place. Yeah, it was a bit of an experience.”

South American Torino odyssey

Rob Mumford first visited Argentina in 1990 on a backpacking trip with his brother and fell in love with Argentina’s passionate people and stunning landscapes. In 1998 he moved there to live and a year later spotted a sleek emerald green 1971 Ford Torino parked near his Buenos Aires apartment.
He ran home, grabbed a Post it note, and scratched out a message: “Awesome car! If you are keen to sell, please give me a call.” He stuck the note to the muscle car’s windscreen and crossed his fingers.
Rob received a call from the owner, Ruben, just a month later in October ’99 and they made arrangements to meet up. Ruben took Rob for a drive and although Rob didn’t get behind the wheel, the Torino looked and felt great. A few days later a price was agreed and along with his father, who was visiting from New Zealand, Rob headed out to the suburb of Olivos to pick it up and hand over the cash. On the drive back into town a couple of people asked “What car is that?” and plenty of heads turned as they went by, confirming he’d made the right choice. That night Rob’s dreams of a Patagonia road trip flowed freely.

The greatest American hero

There won’t be many people of a certain age who haven’t seen an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard — in the US its popularity was second only to Dallas — and fans of car stunts will surely have seen quite a few of them.
It’s fair to say that ahead of James Bond’s Aston, Bullitt’s Mustang, and even the talking Pontiac Firebird also featured in these pages, the General Lee is the most famous film and TV car of them all, not least because of repeated exposure over 147 episodes in seven series, two films, and, of course, every episode’s signature stunt — the General Lee hitting a ramp and flying free as a bird, accompanied by triumphant driver Bo Duke’s “Yee-haah!”

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Leno drives Steve McQueen’s XKSS

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Mongol Rally 2017 — Team Coddiwomples

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Legends of Lamborghini

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McLaren biopic in Cinemas today

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