Memories of The 1985 RAC Rally……

Mikkola 85 RAC
Memories of The 1985 RAC Rally, Written by G Stredder of Nottingham……….

Photos by kind permission of Steve Waterworth.

It is with a great deal of fondness that I recall memories of the RAC Rally starting and ending in Nottingham during November 1985.

In recounting my recollections of the event let me explain a little of my background? During the 1980’s I was working for an Audi Dealer – Bristol Street Motors as Sales Manager. As a rally enthusiast I could not wait for November and to play host to the Audi Works Rally Team, and privateer Per Eklund.

No-one could have prepared us for the army of personnel arriving at the dealership on the outskirts of Nottingham, some 7 miles from the start venue of Wollaton Park.

You could not move for Map Markers, technicians, Audi Staff, Service Trucks, chase cars etc,etc.

Days before the Sunday start, the stars of the show arrived, namely Hannu, Walter,Per, Phil Short and Arnie Hertz – and of course two fire spitting S1E2 Quattro’s.

Rohrl 85 RACWalter’s car had been fitted with the Porsche gearbox (PDK), and the team boss decided to time test a change of the box?? In our workshop the technicians stood ready for the cars entrance, I remember standing not too far from where the car would sit for the test, and was asked to stand well back? Why I thought? It didn’t take long to find out why…….Wrenches spanners and all other manner of tools would be hurled from under the car once finished with and would have done serious damage to my ankles had I remained standing too close!!!

It took around 30 minutes to change the box and to see the technicians work at such pace did put our own mechanics to shame!!!

The build up to the event was very special with the cars being readied for the scrutinizing on the Saturday and then bought back to workshop to be re-assembled ready for the early morning Sunday start.

I asked one of the team managers what was needed for the Sunday delivery of the cars to the start? ‘All we need is to collect the cars at around 0600hrs’. So on the morning I duly obliged and opened the workshop on a cold damp morning waiting for the cars to be collected. Will Hannu and Walter collect them I wondered? No was the simple answer as a service truck arrived around 5.59am, and blurry eyed technicians ambled towards the cars. Walters car started without incident and disappeared into the early morning gloom.

Hannu’s car provided a little more of a challenge in waking up – The car would not start!!! After around 5 minutes or so of turning the engine over without a glimmer of life, the mood of the 2 remaining technicians changed somewhat. ‘Haben sie fire? Thinking back to my school lessons I offered him a cigarette lighter thinking ‘Bit early for a cigarette’, and I’d be more concerned about the car not starting!!!!

The reality was he wanted to warm up what looked like spark plugs and the lighter would not cut it …… But the potable welding plant might!!! And so it was 06.20am and this guy is now starting to sweat.

The radio then burst into action in the service truck and within minutes a less than happy 2nd team arrived. After a couple of minutes conversation that seemed to include one or two less polite words one of the team crouched underneath Arnie’s side of the dashboard, flicked a switch and ….the car sprang into life!!

By this time it was past 6.30am and there seemed to be an issue with the cars time of arrival at the start, they needed to get going at a slightly quicker pace than Walter’s car had done.

Hannu’s car was manoeuvred out of the workshop and onto the A60. What followed will stay in my memory forever.

Given the ‘leafy’ West Bridgford suburb and the time of day the neighbours were not happy. Hannu’s car took off up the main road belching flames and generating the famous back fire bang. It seemed that virtually every bedroom light went on as the car flew along for around ½ mile until out of sight, and even then you could here the S1E2 fly around the Nottingham outer ring road heading toward the start.

The car did arrive in time (just) and sadly both cars went out of the rally fairly early on with Hannu’s engine giving up and Walter rolling out in Wales.

The experience is one though that I will never forget, alongside the genuine good natured guests that took over the dealership for around 10 days. A special mention also to Per Eklund, who was a really entertaining guy and who finished 3rd from memory.

So perhaps like many quattro fans, I frequently youtube Audi quattro to reminisce and watch the beast do its stuff.

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