Memory Lanes … the beginning – Book Review

First published March 2017.

Memory Lanes …. the beginning – Book Review by Nigel Raeburn.

Peter Robinson has published the third and final book in his ‘Memory Lanes’ series – this one covering the years 1961 (when it began) to 1965 of the Motoring News Rally Championship.  The other two books cover 1966 to 1969 (‘…. the early years’) and 1970 to 1973 (‘…. revisited’) respectively.

This latest book runs to 581 pages with hundreds of black and white photos – so it’s a hefty book!  The majority of the text is made up of multi-page reports on each rally run in this period, with summaries of Entry Lists, Results and sometimes route cards and the like.  There are also Appendices and other additions written by Stuart Gray, Don Barrow (in the piece on Ford Anglias) and others, including a resume of when rallying was discussed in Parliament.  Do you remember the ‘Marples must go’ campaign against Ernest Marples when he was a controversial Transport Minister?  Well, as rallyists, we should be thankful to Mr Marples as it was he who allowed road rallying to continue when its very future was threatened in 1961.

It’s interesting to observe how some of the very top works rally drivers took part, and won, in the early years of the MN Championship – even though these were rallies nearly 100% on the public roads.  Winners included Pat Moss, Peter Procter, Vic Elford (who also won one round as a navigator), David Seigle-Morris, Tony Fall, John Sprinzel and Brian Culcheth.  Similarly many top co-drivers started out as navigators on MN events.  Although Anglias, Cortinas and Minis might be the commonest cars in this period, other much rarer makes also did well – such as Sprites, DKW and SAAB.  In 1961 sports cars were still quite popular but by 1965 it was mostly saloons – possibly as rougher roads were used as the years went by.

The very first MN event, the Yorkshire in 1961, seems to have been very advanced for its day with a results system using public phone boxes near almost every control, keeping in touch with the rally HQ, at a hotel in Ilkley which had extra phone lines installed especially.  A tape recorder was used to record the phone conversations as the times were phoned in.  Little snippets of information like this crop up throughout the book, helping to re-create those early days of the sport.

Peter Robinson has again excelled in researching and documenting all this information from so long ago.  The book is available from or .


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