Yorkshire Motorsport Hero’s Tony Fall (part two)

1966 became one on Tony’s busiest seasons as he competed in an extensive programme of international events in Britain and Europe as a full works driver.  The year started with the Monte Carlo and Tony was partnered with Ron Crellin in an MGB which retired before the end when an oil pipe broke.  He described the car as gutless and bloody awful to drive. 

1966 Polish Rally

He achieved four international wins with three different co-drivers.  He won the Circuit of Ireland with Henry Liddon, The Scottish and the Osterreichische Alpenfahrt with Mike Wood and the Rajd Polish Rally with Krauklis Atis.  For the Polish Rally Tony drove GRX 307D with a 907cc engine.   The smaller engine gave Tony an advantage through the handicap system and he took victory over Paddy Hopkirk who was driving a 1275 Cooper S.

It wasn’t all glory though, as Fall retired no less than six times including in DJB 93B which he crashed so badly that it was retired by BMC as a competition car.  Success on the Coupe des Alpes was not to be repeated as they crashed out after hitting a log pile and losing a wheel.    In the Ralle de Fiori Tony removed the air filters from the carbs to improve airflow and was caught out by a spot check by scrutineers who disqualified them.

DJB was written off in the Gulf Rally

A feature of the 1967 season were the long-distance endurance events such as the Marathon de La Route where he secured a second place (first in class) in a 999cc Mini.  The event was true endurance event and ran for 84 hours covering over 5 000 miles.  Tony was part of a three-man team which also included Andrew Hedges and Julien Vernaeve.   Of the 43 starters only 13 finished and amazingly they finished 2nd to a works Porsche 911.

In 1966 Tony entered the Castrol-Danube Rally in anticipation of it becoming a European Rally Championship round in 1967.  He drove a BTR prepared and Vita-Foam sponsored Cooper S co-driven by the Reverend Rupert Jones.   

Fall drove the first ‘works’ Austin 1800 development car LRX 824E in the Danube Rally and finished in first place. Painted in black the car was given a white roof to make it look sporty as there was not enough time to respray it in works livery.   Co driven by Mike Wood the car averaged 60 miles an hour and rode better than its competitors having hydrolastic suspension and a long wheelbase.  

Building on the surprise win Castrol funded an attempt on a number of FIA records in Class E for cars 1500-2000cc.  They set seven World Records at Monza during seven days and seven nights of non-stop driving with his team mates, Clive Baker, Alec Poole, Roger Enever and Julien Vernaeve. 15,589 miles at an average 92.80 mph were completed.  The records attempted and broken were 4, 5, 6 and 7 day records and the 20,000 and 25,000 kilometre endurance records.

The relationship with BRT was now beginning to pay dividends.  In addition to Vitafoam support for the Danube, Tony was invited to take part in the British Saloon Car Championship.  Harry Ratcliffe, was committed to events in Europe and so Tony drove three rounds in 1967 at Mallory Park and Silverstone.  Interestingly Tony raced against fellow Bradfordian, Tony Lanfranchi who was driving a Hillman Imp.  In fact, Lanfranchi came round Gerards, swerved to avoid Neals open door and hit Tony Falls’ Mini before spinning to a halt.

1968 was the season when the BMC competition department was winding down and Tony drove one of the last BMC entries in the Monte Carlo rally taking 4th place.  Probably his most extraordinary result was in the Total 500 Australian where he came from 123rd to win, driving in blinding dust with a split fuel tank and a shredded rear tyre.

1968 Monte

The Competition Department built three Austin1800s for the East African Rally but Tony and co-driver Lofty Drews spent too much time on suspension fixes and ran out of late time.   Next, he competed on the Canadian Shell 400 Rally with local co-driver Denis Johnson.  They finished 8th outright and 2nd in Class even though they had rolled early on.  The rally went from Montreal to Vancouver and was the only rally in North America sanctioned by FIA.

For the 84-hour Marathon de la Route Tony once again drove with Julian Vernaeve and Andrew Hedges in a lightweight MGC racer coming sixth despite brake problems.  The front brake pads had worn down and the calipers seized.  He did a lap to return to the pits but ran out of time to complete the repair and so he did another 18 mile lap without the front brakes before returning to the pits to complete the repair.  When he came in the second time the pit crew had to throw a trolley jack under the car to stop it.

Marathon de la Route 1967

It was around this time that Tony began to cash in on his fame and he started to develop his business skills.  From his home in Baildon he operated a mail order business selling various items, most of which were manufactured locally. As demand grew, he relocated to Reliance Works in Shipley.  A very smart rally jacket cost £10 2 shillings and 4 pence, quite a lot of money at the time.  Tony also commissioned specialist parts including an extra-large sump guard for the BMC Mini, all under the TF brand.  Tony also became the Yorkshire and northern representative for Paddy Hopkirk products. 

Opportunities to drive with BMC began to dry up and Tony had to find new drives.  New sponsors JCB came on board with Peter Brown sharing an MGB.  During the 68 season the pair competed in four long distance events including the Monza 1000km (failed to qualify), Nurburg Ring (39th) , Mugello Grand Prix (15th)  and the Targa Florio (24th). 

Towards the end of the season Tony was back in winning ways with Ron Crellin in a Lancia Fulvia taking first place on the TAP Portugal Rally.  This win was sufficient to ensure an ongoing relationship with Lancia through to 1971.

5 thoughts on “Yorkshire Motorsport Hero’s Tony Fall (part two)

  1. Nice article. I am the proud owner of TO900048 a Lancia Fulvia 1.3HFR works rally car. Tony Fall drove this Lancia works car with Pat Moss and Lofty Drews early in 1979 in Kenya as a practice for a potential entry into the East African Rally by Lancia. This car had previously been a Lancia works rally car in 1967 giving Sandro Munari his first rally win, and later was used in 1968 to compete in the European Touring cars championship. Tony managed to persuade Lancia to give him the car (it was rather broken at the time) in lieu of rally driving dues He imported to back to the UK in 1970 and repaired to be used by his wife! He registered it in UK and was given RWT5K. The car was used on the historic European rally scene in the mid 80’s by the late Paul Howcroft. The car has had a full restoration.

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    1. That’s really interesting. I wrote the article with his son Oliver Fall. If you have any pictures or information I would be happy to incorporate them into the article and pass them on to Oliver.

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      1. I have a fat history file on the car and original UK log book etc with Tony Fall’s name etc.
        Suggest you give my email to Oliver . Depending on where this pandemic is going Oliver may wish to visit me at some point.

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  2. I will pass your information on Oliver, I am sure he will be interested to see the car. I know that he doesn’t have many pictures from his dads rally career. We met when he was looking at one of his Dad’s Mini’s.

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