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Little Classics News: 14 February 2015

Race Retro Celebrates BMC and British Leyland Racing Heritage

Mini Cooper ‘S’ 1071 at 1967 Monte Carlo Rally

The British Motor Corporation and British Leyland’s competition department, and the late Bjorn Waldegard complete the celebratory line-up for this year’s Race Retro, held at Stoneleigh Park from 20th to 22nd February.

Formed in 1955 and operating as the ‘works’ team of Britain’s largest motor manufacturer, British Motor Corporation, subsequently British Leyland, the ‘Competitions Department’ remained active at the top echelons of world rallying and endurance racing for 25 years until finally disbanded in 1981.

Race Retro will mark the 60th anniversary of the formation of the team that brought rallying glory, famous victories and prestige with its red and white liveried Austin-Healeys, Austin A40s, and Mini Coopers of the 1960s and bowed out with the growling red white and blue TR7 V8s of the late 1970s.

Look out for the ‘60th anniversary of BMC/BL Competitions Department’ display in Hall 1 featuring examples of the ‘Big’ Healey 3000, winner of its class in the 1960 Tour of Corsica with Pat Moss at the wheel; the famous Mini Cooper ‘S’ 1071 (top) which was Rauno Aaltonen’s ride for the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally, and the TR7 V8, which performed in a trio of 1979 rallies under the control or Per Eklund and Simo Lampinen - all genuine works cars.

Bjorn's last visit to Race Retro with Jay Kay

Race Retro also pays tribute to a long-time friend – the late Bjorn Waldegard (above). The first driver to win the Drivers World Rally Championship, Sweden’s Bjorn Waldegard enjoyed a rallying career that spanned four decades.

Bjorn took his first international rally victory at the wheel of a Porsche 911 in the 1969 Monte Carlo Rally, while his last international victory came at the wheels of a Toyota on the 1990 Safari Rally, making Bjorn the oldest driver ever to win a WRC event.

Along the way he drove for Porsche, Lancia, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Toyota. After his glittering professional career, netting him 16 International rally victories and that first Drivers World Championship, Bjorn returned to the rally car cockpit on several occasions to partake in historic celebration rallies, winning again the Safari Classic in a Porsche 911 but with his son Matthias as co-driver.

Bjorn also made regular appearances at the wheel of several of his old works cars in live action demonstrations thrilling spectators at historic events and shows. Not least he was a great friend of Race Retro, making three personal guest driver appearances on the Stoneleigh tarmac. However, sadly Bjorn succumbed to cancer last year at the age of seventy.

Race Retro also celebrates 50 years of Chevron Racing, Mike Hailwood’s 1965 World Championship win and the career of Richard Burns. Additionally, there is a tribute to Sir Jack Brabham with a collection of the Brabham cars, thanks to Hall & Hall.



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