2020 was the 50th anniversary of one of the biggest motorsport events of its day, the Daily Mirror World Cup Rally from London to Mexico. As well as professional teams there were celebrity pairings, all designed to generate publicity for the 1970 World Cup. But don’t think that the presence of celebrities meant that it was just a long distance Sunday drive. In reality it was gruelling, dangerous test of endurance for drivers and cars. 93 cars started but only 23 finished.
On the 1st of May 2022, The Historic Marathon Rally Group will be celebrating the 50th anniversary, plus 2, the original celebrations being delayed by the Co-Vid pandemic. The celebration takes place at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon. The display of cars outside the museum is free and admission to the museum is £14.50. Classic cars benefit from their own parking.
The display will include cars from the London to Mexico Rally as well as other marathon events. Some of the drivers from the event will also be available to talk about their experiences. Inside the museum there will be displays of memorabilia and films.
Further information: https://historicmarathonrallygroup.co.uk/
Tony Fall on the London to Mexico.
Yorkshire rally star Tony Fall was partnered with footballer Jimmy Greaves for the event and his story is repeated below from an earlier article.
The biggest event in Motorsport in 1970 was the London to Mexico rally with Jimmy Greaves, a top footballer whose playing days were coming to an end. By 1970 he had been dropped from the Tottenham team and was aware that he would not be a part of England’s World Cup Squad for Mexico.
Greave said later of the event:-
‘If I had realised how hard it was going to be, I doubt I could have summoned the courage to face it,’
Tony accepted Jimmy’s role was to generate the headlines and his was to get to the end of the rally in one piece. 25 000 spectators witnessed the departure of 93 cars from Wembley with Greaves’s car, number 26, the second favourite to win.
Tony said at the time,
I thought drivers like Paddy Hopkirk and Timo Makinen were stars, but for the first time in my life I was exposed to super stardom. Almost all of Dover turned out to see us when we set off to do a 3 week recce in Europe. At the Mont Blanc Tunnel, the appearance of Greeves stopped the traffic.
Greave’s health declined in South America suffering from vitamin deficiency due to the lack of vegetables in their diet and altitude sickness. In addition, the dangers of driving on these roads became apparent when swerving to miss a pedestrian the pair ended up hanging over a precipice with a broken axle. A little further and they may have perished from the drop.
Another serious incident happened on a desolate Panamanian road. Greaves had been asleep before the screech of brakes woke him as a horse galloped in front of the car. The Escort collided with the horse at 100mph killing it instantly.
They finished in sixth place, one of only 23 cars to survive the event. A quite remarkable result for the inexperienced footballer who should be admired for enduring the battering, the sickness and the sheer exhaustion of the event. But the main credit should go to Tony who did the bulk of the driving and successfully kept his partner in one piece all the way to the finish.