Helix Classic Rally
dates : 5th September 2004
9th September 2004
Shell Helix Classic Rally takes place in Mpumalanga on
the 18th and 19th September, and is expected to attract
over 100 entries from the Gauteng area.
Organised by the Pretoria Motor Club, the event is open
to street-legal cars built before 1982. But the
organizers say they are willing to bend the rules on the
date cut-off, if an enthusiast wants to enter an
interesting car of slightly more modern vintage.
Classic rallying has been on an up-swing all over the
country since the early 1990s, and events take place all
over the world, some of them with enormous fields.
The pre-1982 era in South African rallying saw some
amazing tussles between drivers like Sarel van der Merwe
and Jan Hettema, taking on the likes of international
stars Hannu Mikkola, Tony Pond and Jimmy McCrae, father
of Subaru world champion in 1995, Colin McCrae.
It’s to commemorate this golden era that rallies like
the Shell Helix event are held.
However, unlike special stage rallying, where the event
is decided on the fastest times over closed sections of
road, classic rallies are run on public roads at speeds
below the national speed limit.
An ideal time to arrive at various control points on the
route is set and points are added or deducted for
arriving too early or too late.
Thus the role of the navigator is vital in this type of
But often classic rallies include a timed special stage
or two, and this is where the more serious crews can
indulge their passion for speed
This sample of cars is typical of a classic rally field
and represent various extremes of the sport.
They have to look right…
they have to sound right, with lots of slurping from
and yes, they go like bats-out-of-hell too, thanks to
light bodyweights and plenty of power.
With the Shell Classic Rally starting in Pretoria next
Saturday, late entries will still be accepted.
The cars need to be licensed for road use and novice
entrants are welcome for the event.
Anyone interested in joining in the fun can call the
Pretoria Motor Club secretary, Sue Ryder, on 083 588
|The Jaguar XJ6 from the
1970s was never a serious contender in rallies for
obvious reasons – too heavy and too ponderous over
But this example owned by Syd Brett is accepted in
classic rallying because it represents the pinnacle of
luxury motoring in the 1970s, when rallying was at its
|Similarly the MGB GT was
not rallied on a professional basis in South Africa,
although in England it was a serious contender for a
short spell in the 1960s.
Yet it’s an ideal classic rally machine, especially
when modified. Chris Andrews’ pristine "B",
as they are called by MG enthusiasts, has an overbored
engine, side-draught Weber carburetion, a rally-race
camshaft and a crisp exhaust note.
The car also has suspension up-grades, Minilite wheels,
bigger disc brakes and a rally interior.
|Laurie Steyn is one of
the most successful classic rallyists in the country
with many championships to his name, along with
navigator Greg Pridgeon.
The Alfa Giulia Laurie campaigns is something of a
legend, being based on the Giulia Rally version built by
Alfa Romeo South Africa in limited numbers in the early
Alfas were rallied very successfully here by the likes
of Giovani Piazza-Musso in the glory days of the 1970s,
and also by one Sarel van der Merwe.
|Sarel van der Merwe
remains our most successful rally driver, even though he
retired a few seasons ago. He cut his teeth in Datsuns,
but made his name in the international arena in a Ford
Escort, similar to this example run by Wally Langsford.
This is a very special Mk I Escort, as it runs to Twin
This means it’s fitted with a Lotus Twin Cam engine. A
few of these cars were imported by Ford South Africa in
the early 1970s.
A rally Escort needs a few touches to maintain its
classic status, which Wally’s car has. These include
the Minilite wheels, lowered suspension and black grille
indicating the car’s motorsport status as a production
While any pre-1982 car is welcome on the scene, those
with period go-faster bits are prized by the serious
Car Torque is