Philip Young reflections

First published May 2015.

PHILIP YOUNG – some reflections – by Nigel Raeburn

Much has already been written by others who knew him better than I did following the sad death of Philip Young.  However, although I did not know him well, I certainly recognise the huge impact he had on the world of historic rallying – indeed, it almost certainly would not have developed as well as it has done over the last 30 years or so without him.  He started so many now established events – the Classic Marathons, Peking-Paris, Rally of the Tests, Lombard Revival, Flying Scotsman, London to Cape Town – as well as being a co-founder of the HRCR.  His influence, imagination, innovation and determination brought the sport much publicity – starts on Tower Bridge, entries from the likes of Stirling Moss, etc. – as well as breaking down barriers across country borders around the world.  He was adept behind the wheel too – for example his record-breaking Fiat Panda drive from Cape Town to London (I remember enjoying following that in almost real-time on the internet).

I only did a few events run by Philip and really I was only a passing acquaintance although he invariably made time for a few words even if ‘small talk’ did not come naturally to him.  However, I have a few memories which will stand the test of time.  I did a Hughes Rally (HRCR Clubmans round) in Kent which had a coffee stop at the Lenham Cafe on the A20 – an establishment with which Philip had connections and he was present when the rally stopped there.  This cafe had been a regular stop for competitors in the grand old days of the Monte Carlo Rally and even today retains its rallying links – let me quote from its website ( :

Photos on the wall – very probably the biggest collection of rally photos on public display in Britain – are a reminder of the days when large crowds would flock around Monte Carlo checkpoints. Black and white photos recall a golden era…dine out at the Roadhouse today and you have drivers of works-MGs, Austin Healeys, Mini Coopers and Sprites all around you. There are also photos linking the cafe to the Lenham Sportscar garage.

Well, on the day of the Hughes Rally, Philip had studied the entry list and noticed my name on it.  Cue an extra photo was added to the display, of Will Sparrow and myself in the Mini on the RAC Rally – and to make sure it was well noticed, guess where Philip decided to hang it – above one of the gents urinals!  I was recently told it is still there.

I was pleased to be a travelling marshal on the first Lombard Revival which Philip created.  It was a great success and started the whole endurance rally movement (basically rallying for 1400cc hatchbacks) – it’s a shame his successors were not able to build on his early efforts and it has not grown as it should have.

Philip created the first Rally of the Tests and it was really innovative in its early years with no tripmeters, period clothing and encouraging the older cars (50s and early 60s).  After that first event (when I was a sector coordinator) he passed it on to Jeremy Dickson and the CRA and I enjoyed competing in 10 subsequent great rallies and much appreciated Philip’s legacy.

Another of his successes was the Flying Scotsman for pre-war cars and I have marshalled several times and competed twice.  On the second one (with Paul Wignall in a Talbot) we had just moved into the lead when we got stuck on a bank at a tight hairpin, almost within sight of the next regularity timing point, and lost many minutes before we got going again.  Without this problem we might well have won the rally overall and I was very touched when Philip was more upset than Paul and I were at our bad luck.  It was a nice example of how much Philip loved his rallying.

There will never be anyone quite like him – adventurer, organiser, negotiator, competitor – with such a broad set of skills.  It looks as if the Endurance Rally Organisation which he created and led is strong enough to continue to grow and innovate – I gather Fred Gallagher has joined the existing ERA team and together I’m sure they will do all they can to continue Philip’s legacy.




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