Memories of ORX77F

MEMORIES OF ORX77F  by Nigel Raeburn.

First published for the Mini Cooper Register magazine around early 2009.

Spotting an item about ORX77F in a copy of the Mini-Cooper Register magazine had me searching through my archives for a photo of Geoff Grundy and myself on the start line of the 1970 Welsh Marches Motoring News night road rally in this ex-works (Makinen & Aaltonen in 1968) car.

I was already known as a navigator of rally Minis from my partnership with Will Sparrow – we won the 1970 RAC British Rally Championship in a privately entered Mini-Cooper S before going on to drive Dealer Team Vauxhalls through the seventies – but I also did a number of night road rallies with Geoff Grundy in his ex-works car.  I don’t have complete records but I recall we had some top ten finishes on long tough events, mostly in Wales but some in Geoff’s local Yorkshire.  Geoff rallied quite a bit in the late 60s and early 70s with other navigators – especially Peter Murray and John Vipond.  There is a photo of Geoff and John on the Targa Rusticana Rally in December 1969 in a Mini – presumably ORX77F although you cannot see the number – in the famous book about the 1969 Motoring News Championship ‘Nineteen to the Dozen’.  As I recall Geoff’s car was kept pretty much as it was bought from the works team, a much admired car it was and Geoff took great care of it.  He was not an especially fast rally driver but could be relied upon to keep on the road and keep pressing on through a long tough event – and the car was well maintained.  He ran (and maybe still runs – we’ve lost touch) a garage just outside Barnsley – Turnpike Garage – and entered the car in the garage’s name.  This continued even when the garage became a Saab dealership – I did do one rally later around 1973 in a Saab 99 with Geoff but I don’t think he got on with such a relatively large car in the lanes.

I did one other rally in an ex-works Mini when I started the 1968 Norwester Rally with Rob Lawrence in JMO969D (ex Makinen/Hopkirk/Ytterbring 1966-68).  The rally started in Llandudno and we were seeded number 1 (the first time I had started a Motoring News Rally first on the road – no pressure!) but unfortunately we only managed about 10 miles (on snow) before a problem with the points brought us to a halt and we had to retire.

Will Sparrow and I very nearly became a works Mini crew when the factory entered us as a works entry in Will’s own car teamed with Paddy Hopkirk in the 1970 Sherry Rally in Spain but Lord Stokes pulled the plug just a week or two before the rally so we didn’t go!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *