A particular genre of event that appears throughout Victoria’s rally history is a form of road rally that is generally conducted over multiple days and often in reasonably remote country. Such events are epitomised by the BP Rally of South-eastern Australia which ran from 1958 to 1973 inclusive. Arguably the BP style of event was not much different from other events of that era in terms of navigational difficulty and driver challenges, but most events, from the club to state championship level, were generally one night affairs, and consequently did not venture to the more distant and remote areas of the state, let alone into neighbouring states.
The BP, on the other hand, frequently took crews to the far corners of the state and well into NSW and SA. These events could also use a lot of daytime running on notionally “open” roads because of the remoteness of the areas visited. The BP was conceived by Donald Thomson, who is an inductee of the Australian Rally Hall of Fame and was Secretary of CAMS from its inception in 1953 to his retirement in 1973. DKT, as he was often known, believed that these events should be both challenging and fun, taking crews to places they had not previously been, both literally and figuratively. He directed the first ten BP Rallies and three earlier Sun Trials, with the later editions of the BP Rally directed by Tony Theiler, Graham Hoinville, Mike Osborne and Frank Kilfoyle. BP’s John Pryce was a constant presence in the organisation of all sixteen editions. Ross Runnalls has compiled an extensive history of the BP Rallies here. Don Ellis wrote a history of the BP Rally in 2004 and updated it in 2008 – it is available here.
For competitor interviews during four of the BP Rallies from 1959 to 1963, visit our page with the Lox McGrath collection.
Sadly, after the last of the original BP Rallies in 1973, the concept receded somewhat in the collective consciousness of Victoria’s rallying fraternity. But a few years later, brothers Noel and Ian Richards developed CCRMIT’s George Derrick Memorial Trial into a two-night event and borrowed some of the concepts of the BP. The 1976 Derrick ventured into SA and was a joint VRC/SARC round. But with the VRC events expected to be much less navigational, the Richards brothers and many other helpers from CCRMIT rekindled the BP spirit in the form of the 1977 Riverland Rally, and the 1978 Ready Plan Rally, both of which ran generally in the north-west of Victoria, but ventured into both NSW and SA.
Such multi-day events that were not part of a championship series sometimes struggled to attract good fields of competitors. Nevertheless, several such events were conducted over the following two decades, at least one of which was part of the Victorian Trials Series which was (re-)introduced in 1981.
The original BP rallies often had quite tricky navigation, in part because the maps of the day were poor, and a lot of the original BPs used the Broadbents maps that were often inaccurate or difficult to interpret. This style of navigation was revisited by later BP reruns, the first of which was the 1979 Ye Olde BP Rally directed by Peter Haas, with two more in 1984 and 1989. A number of other BP “reruns” have been conducted since then. The last of these was in 2013.
All the BP style events are listed below.