Book Review – ‘Memory Lanes … the early years’ by Peter Robinson

First published September 2014.

BOOK REVIEW – “Memory Lanes … the early years” by Peter Robinson.

Peter Robinson’s earlier book “Memory Lanes Revisited” was the second edition of his hefty book covering the 1970 to 1973 seasons of the Motoring News road rally championship.  Now with “Memory Lanes … the early years” he has covered the 1966 to 1969 seasons with an equally thorough and enthralling book.  He has now started work on yet another volume dealing with the even earlier years!

Each book covers each of the qualifying rallies (68 of them in ’66-’69) with a report and wherever possible full entry lists, results and sometimes even the route card – plus a splendid and comprehensive selection of photographs to help recall this wonderful period of rallying.  In the years 1966 to 1969 stage rallying was still in its formative period and road rallying was the top level of the sport as far as most enthusiasts were concerned – although some of the MN rounds did introduce special stages as well as traditional night road rallies.  Road rallies in this period were entered by some of the very top drivers such as Vic Elford, Tony Fall, Roy Fidler, Paddy Hopkirk, Pat Moss and John Sprinzel.  The commonest cars were Minis and Cortinas – and later the Escort, while the Imp in Colin Malkin’s hands was very successful in 1968.  Some of the rallies were real marathons – for example the 1968 Dursley had 10 forest special stages followed by a 250 mile night road rally of selectives – and other events were even longer!  Entry lists of 120 cars were the norm too.

This latest book includes a foreword by Stuart Turner, a comprehensive introduction by Don Barrow and perceptive appendices by John Brown, Martin Holmes and Peter Valentine.  To research such a book involves a huge amount of work and Peter Robinson acknowledges all those who have helped him track down paperwork and other material from so long ago – including from our local area Don Barrow, Alan Jolley and Nigel Raeburn.  Don of course features a lot in the book as it covers his successful period with Jimmy Bullough, and Alan was at the helm of the Plains Rally which was an MN round in 1968 and 1969 and so has several pages devoted to each (including the 1969 route card).

A highly recommended book for anyone who was there – as competitor, organiser, marshal or spectator – and equally for those who want to know what a golden period for rallying was really like.  It’s not cheap at about £50 but it’s good value with over 450 pages and hundreds of photos.  You can buy it at Peter Robinson’s website at www.photohistoric.com or through Don Barrow at www.donbarrow.co.uk .

Review by NIGEL RAEBURN.

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