So… After a while of debating and thinking what I would write in this post, arguably THE MOST IMPORTANT post to date on this blog, I have finally decided to share something with you all that very few people in the world actually know and acknowledge.
What I am talking about is the little known fact of my grandparents’ participation in the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally as part of the Datsun-Nissan works rally team. In 1971 Datsun-Nissan fielded three full FIA-spec 240Z rally cars. My grandparents were given a drive on the rally thanks to their victory in the International Total Rally of September 1970. Included in their prize was a sponsored entry into the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally courtesy of Total. Due to his close ties with the Japanese manufacturer, my grandfather was given a RHD 240Z to use as part of the works team effort as the other two cars were both LHD models. Driving the other two works cars were Rauno Aaltonen/Paul Easter (SF/UK) in the No.62 car and Tony Fall/Mike Wood (UK/UK) in the No.70 car, both legends of their era. Aaltonen went on to finish 5th overall with Fall, less experienced than Aaltonen on ice and snow, finishing a creditable 10th overall. Due to an unfortunate blockage of the fuel lines to the carbs on their 240Z, my grandparents were forced to retire from the rally altogether in the closing stages.
It is a great pity that they were forced to retire but it goes to show that even with factory backing, things can and do go badly wrong in the world of professional rallying.
Lets start off the photo’s with one of my all time favourite shots of my grandparents during the official stages:
Here is a particularly wonderful photo at what seems to be the start of one of the night stages?:
Here is the very same moment but from a slightly different angle:
Here we have a photo of my grandparents that was taken during practice in the Levens special stage section – one of the only sections where snow was was not found in that year’s rally, where they used racing tires. This section of the Rally course is just outside Nice. This was not the actual No.76 car as far as I am aware but a car provided especially for practicing the grueling stages beforehand, built to the same specs as the rally car.
Visibility was of course of particular importance in the darkness of the night stages!
Here they are busy practicing the tenth special stage: Col des Banquettes
Here is a lovely portrait of the husband and wife team that overcame many odds to be so very successful at what they did together… It is not often that you have a rally driver who has his wife for a navigator now is it?
Here they are about to set off on a practice run and I believe my grandfather said to photographer: “Travel by boat, it’s slower!” (Note the studded tires used for traction on the slippery snow covered roads)
Here is a rare colour photograph of them standing next to one of the LHD practice cars in front of the Auberge de la Source Bar at the top of the famous Col de Turini:
Here is another one of my favourite photos of their Monte Carlo Rally experience…The Datsun-Nissan rally team drivers in the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally. From left to right are Ewold van Bergen, Rauno Aaltonen, Minota van Bergen, Tony Fall and Mike Wood.
To finish off the photo’s of this post I am going to use my all time favourite photo of my grandparents in action, absolutely stunning stuff!! I love the concentration evident on my grandmother’s face as she reads out the pace notes and how my grandfather is totally focused on the job at hand… Brilliant!
Well then, that brings to a close what is easily the most enjoyable post I have made to date. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together!
I hope that thanks to this post my grandparents can start receiving some of the recognition that they truly deserve as they were a fantastic and very successful team in their day, but not many people know that which saddens me a great deal.
Lastly a salute to Grandpa and Gran, you guys make me proud to be a Van Bergen… 🙂
(P.S For my readers out there, you will notice on these photo’s a logo at the bottom left. This is my newly designed watermark to avoid confusion out there as to where certain photo’s originate. I will be using these on all photo’s taken by myself.)
(*Edit on the above statement: I should just also mention as I worded my statement above slightly incorrectly, that I will also be putting the watermark on all photo’s of my grandparents that were digitised by Mr. Martin Ciolkosz between 2004 and 2008 so as to indicate copyright and ownership rights of the photo’s by Mr. Martin Ciolkosz and the Van Bergen family)