Decade in review
A decade of growth
While the 1950s had been dominated by a variety of one off events at the club, state and national levels, including the BP Rally and several around Australia events, the 1960s saw the establishment of championship series both at the state and national levels. Many of the one off events continued as such, including the annual BP Rally and the Alpine Rally, although the Alpine was sometimes a state championship round and later became a round of the newly formed ARC. There was also a “Round Australia” trial in 1964, the Ampol Trial, although it stuck to the eastern states, not visiting WA or NT.
The inaugural Victorian Trials Championship was held in 1961 and has continued for every year since, although it changed its name to the Victorian Rally Championship in 1972. Back in the 1960s the events were often long and arduous, almost exclusively at night, and with significant navigational difficulty. Harry Firth, Frank Kilfoyle and Bob Watson were established as the dominant drivers of the era while navigators such as Graham Hoinville, Jim McAuliffe and Peter Haas were the experts in their trade. While the VW had perhaps been the vehicle of choice in the 50s, the 1960s saw a tussle between Ford (with Anglias, Cortinas and Falcons), Holden (with their sedans and later Monaros and Toranas) and Renault (with the R8 and R16).
The first annual Southern Cross Rally was conducted in 1966 and the first three editions all came to Victoria, with 1966 and 1968 coming to Melbourne for a stopover.
It was perhaps the arrival of the Southern Cross that awakened Victorian rallyists to what was happening north of the Murray. In NSW most rallies were fully route charted “driver oriented” events, while in Victoria most events required a considerable degree of navigational prowess. Towards the end of the 1960s there was already some unrest among entrants and drivers as discussed in this 1967 article by Roger Bonhomme in Racing Car News. While the navigational difficulty of Victorian Championship events gradually declined, it would be another decade before all VRC events were fully route charted.
The Australian Rally Championship began in 1968 and Victoria hosted two rounds in each of the first two years. The national title was also won by Victorians in those years, Firth and Hoinville in 1968 and Kilfoyle and Rutherford in 1969.
A major boost to rallying also came at the end of 1968 with the attention grabbing “race across the world” that was the London to Sydney Marathon. The Australian leg of this great adventure travelled from Perth to Sydney in three days, passing through Victoria via Wangaratta, Bright, Omeo and Buchan. It really captured the public’s attention.
The years underlined at left link to pages with content that has been provided to date.