A special showcase featuring many of the stand-out cars from past generations will be one of the highlights at Thursday evening’s spectacular opening competitive stage at the popular Oulton Park circuit near Chester.

The celebratory display will include many icons from previous eras including significant Ford Escorts, Group B machines and victorious cars rallied by British heroes Colin McRae and Richard Burns.

Illustrating the rally’s remarkable history, the collection will provide visitors with an engaging insight into the sport’s evolution over time, whetting appetites for the arrival of the latest generation of WRC stars and cars – the fastest and most impressive machines ever to set wheels in the forests.

Back in 1932, the inaugural Royal Automobile Club Rally took its lead from the Monte Carlo Rally with crews driving standard road cars setting off to/from nine different towns and cities all bound for Torquay on the English Riviera via a variety of 1000-mile routes, each one with four control points. No fewer than 342 competitors entered and the £25 prize for having recorded the lowest number of penalty points was awarded to  Colonel A. H. Loughborough driving a Lanchester 15/18.

Motor Sport magazine reported: “People with the knowledge and experience of the Monte Carlo Rally may, perhaps, have regarded the R.A.C event as a meek and mediocre counterpart of the former, but as a preliminary effort there can be no denying the fact that it was a great success. It showed that British motorists are really keen to indulge in motoring fixtures when the opportunity occurs provided they are organised by a competent body.”

Though there was a break in the action following the outbreak of the Second World War and again in 1957 for the Suez Crisis, the RAC Rally followed a similar format, albeit with the introduction of more competitive tests, until the start of the sixties when Scandinavian style off-road forest stages were first introduced – a move which cemented the rally’s reputation as one of the most challenging and respected on the calendar.

In 1973, the event’s international repute earned it a founding position in the newly created World Rally Championship and, together with Finland, remains one of only two rounds that have featured on every year’s WRC roster ever since.

The switch to gravel tracks in the forests and a wintry, end-of-season slot on the schedule resulted in 30 years of Nordic success only interrupted by Roger Clark’s two home wins in 1972 and 1976.

In more recent times, though, the victories have been shared more widely with further home-grown winners Colin McRae (1994, 1995 and 1997), Richard Burns (1998, 1999 and 2000) and most recently Elfyn Evans in 2017. Coming 25 years ago, the first of McRae’s victories was in the 50th running of the event.

The UK’s premier rally has also seen several title changes over its long history with the advent of title sponsorship from commercial partners such as Lombard, Network Q and Dayinsure. The UK’s round of the WRC has been titled Wales Rally GB for the past 17 years since the Welsh Government became principal funding partner in 2003.

“Only the Monte Carlo Rally can boast a longer or richer pedigree than Wales Rally GB and only Finland has also retained a place on every World Rally Championship calendar – it’s this incredible esteem and heritage which make Rally GB, in all its guises, so special,” remarked Hugh Chambers, CEO of Motorsport UK, organiser of Wales Rally GB. “While continuing to innovate and keeping the event fresh for both competitors and visitors, we are proud of the rally’s unique place in the sport’s history and will be celebrating that with this special 75th anniversary showcase at Oulton Park in October.”

Adult tickets to the opening Oulton Park Special Stage on Thursday are priced at just £25 and must be purchased in advance – grandstand seats are also available as well as a hospitality upgrade for those seeking the ultimate entertainment experience. Children aged 15 and under enjoy free admittance.

Full details of these – as well as a wide choice of tickets for the 21 Special Stages that follow on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – can be found on the walesrallygb.com website.

 

RALLY GB MILESTONES

1932          Inaugural Royal Automobile Club Rally finishing in Torquay

1933          First female RAC Rally winner: Miss Kitty Brunell

1940-50     RAC Rally not staged following outbreak of World War 2

1951          RAC Rally re-introduced based in Bournemouth

1953          Ian Appleyard wins his second RAC Rally in Jaguar XK120

1957          RAC Rally cancelled due to the Suez Crisis

1960          First forest competitive section successfully introduced in Scotland

1961          Multiple forest stages introduced around the country

1962          Erik Carlsson completes a hat-trick of wins in Saab 96

1965          Rauno Aaltonen gives the Mini its only RAC Rally triumph

1966          Entries from two F1 World Champions Graham Hill (Mini) and Jim Clark (Lotus Cortina)

1967          Rally cancelled due to foot-and-mouth disease

1970-73     Title sponsorship from the Daily Mirror

1971          Fan-friendly Spectator Stages first introduced at Harewood House

1972          Roger Clark becomes the first British driver to win since switch to forest event

1973          Rally GB included in the first FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers

1974-92     Title sponsorship from Lombard

1975          Timo Mäkinen completes a hat-trick of wins in dominant Ford Escorts era

1976          Second victory for Roger Clark who becomes first British winner of WRC round

1979          RAC Rally included in first FIA Drivers’ World Championship

1980          Henri Toivonen becomes final driver to win in 2wd car (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus)

1982          Hannu Mikkola becomes the first four-time Rally GB winner

1986          RAC Rally was final European round for Group B cars

1993-2002 Title sponsorship from Network Q

1994          50th running of RAC Rally; Colin McRae becomes first British winner for 18 years

1995          Colin McRae wins and is crowned as Britain’s first World Rally Champion

1997          Colin McRae wins his third Rally GB

2000          Richard Burns completes a hat-trick of Rally GB victories

2000          Rally GB moves to Cardiff with all 17 stages in Wales

2001          Richard Burns finishes third and is crowned as England’s first World Rally Champion

2003          Welsh Government becomes principal funding partner

2005          Petter Solberg/Phill Mills win for a fourth consecutive

2013          Rally moves to new home in Deeside, north Wales

2017-2018 Title sponsorship from Dayinsure

2017          Elfyn Evans becomes first Welsh driver to win a WRC round

2018          Llandudno stages first world championship motor sport on closed public roads in the UK

2018          Sébastien Ogier becomes first fifth-time winner

2019          Milestone 75th running of Rally GB

 

RALLY GB MULTIPLE WINNERS: DRIVERS

5       Sébastien Ogier

4       Hannu Mikkola

4       Petter Solberg

3       Erik Carlsson

3       Richard Burns

3       Juha Kankkunen

3       Sébastien Loeb

3       Timo Makinen

3       Colin McRae

2       Ian Appleyard

2        Stig Blomqvist

2        Roger Clark

2        Marcus Gronholm

2        Jack Harrop

2        Harry Källström

2         Jari-Matti Latvala

2         Carlos Sainz

2         Henri Toivonen

2          Tom Trana

 

RALLY GB MULTIPLE WINNERS: MANUFACTURERS

 

15     Ford

9       Subaru

6       Lancia

4       Jaguar

4       Toyota

4        Volvo

3       Audi

3       Citroën

3      Peugeot

2       Mitsubishi