Here we have the post I spoke about earlier in the Never before seen EVB photos post. Things have been really hectic around here but I have now had a bit of time to get this post up…
In 1966 my grandfather and his navigator Rex Wakely-Smith entered the Monte Carlo Rally in a Datsun Bluebird 411 SSS. They started in the town of
Reims in Eastern France Monte Carlo on January 14 and had to then make their way along a circular loop back to Monte Carlo in a set time frame. The rest of the competitors all started in one of 8 7 other towns. All the cars covered about 3 000 kilometers on the way to Monte Carlo from the various starting points, quite incredible if one compares this to today’s modern Monte Carlo Rally that the WRC runs!
During this years Monte Carlo Rally, handicaps were imposed. The times taken by Group One (standard) cars over the special sections were multiplied by one for result purposes. But cars in Group Two (modified touring cars) and Group Three (GT cars) had their time multiplied by 1.18. This is the famous, or infamous, 18 percent handicap over which a lot of fuss was created. The Group 2 cars were also further subjected to a doubling of penalties imposed at control points.
During the road to Monaco the Datsun began losing oil pressure at Perpignan, near the Spanish border. The fault was eventually traced to a faulty oil pressure release valve at Florac, about 80 miles from Avignon. Once that was discovered the valve was replaced, along with the oil pump and all the bigend bearings. They left Florac one and a half hours late as a result but, instead of taking the two and a half hours allowed to get to Avignon, they did it in one and a half, to clock in at the control below the famous bridge of Avignon only 29 minutes late, which became 58 minutes plus the 18 percent handicap. It was their first penalty for the rally.
Here is a photo of my grandfather looking at what seems to be the faulty oil pressure release valve. According to him a piece of hard carbon got stuck behind the ball of the oil pressure release valve, keeping it stuck open and hence causing the oil pressure loss. Standing next to him is his navigator, Rex Wakely-Smith.
Here is the duo busy working on the 411:
Here my grandfather holds the J13’s cylinder head up as Rex quietly looks on:
Smiles all around as my grandfather starts the engine and gets the oil pressure that was missing for the previous 1000 miles!!
The photo below shows the satisfied smiles following the preparation for the event by the service crew in the workshop underneath a block of flats in Monte Carlo.
There was even time for a quick group photo after the successful repair!
The photo below depicts the team in the days leading up to the start of the event in the workshop in Monte Carlo.
The four guys in the Datsun overalls were from South Africa and the gentleman on the far left was an engineer from Datsun Japan! *EDIT: The team in the group photo from L to R are: Mr Matsumoto, Terry Chouler, Bert Carr, Rex Wakely-Smith, Ewold van Bergen, Deon Retief and Raymond Lucas.
On Monday January 17th, after a short rest the night before, the teams that qualified set out on a gruelling 880 mile, 24-hour drive through the mountains from Monaco to Chambery, then back to Monaco.
Here is my grandfather and Rex planning the above mentioned test the night before…
Really love this photo of grandfather showing his skill effortlessly!
My grandfather and Rex Wakely-Smith were one of only two crews, who, after being penalised on the road to Monte Carlo, got through the tough 24-hour mountain drive without gaining any further penalties! Quite impressive given the problems they had been experiencing!
My grandfather estimated that for about three-quarters of the mountain route to Chambery and back the roads they used were covered in ice or snow! Three-quarters of 880 miles! Unbelievable!
The snow was up to 15 in. deep in places and conditions were so bad that one of the six special “flat-out” stages was cancelled. On one of the special stages they spun completely round on the ice and stalled the engine, restarted and finished the test, in spite of the delay, as fast as their best time in practice on a dry road!
Going through an S-bend on ice, the car slid out of control and stopped with both front wheels over the edge. It was so balanced that they did not dare get out! Before they could decide what to do the crowd of spectators had surrounded it and lifted it back on to the road!
After pushing very hard on that long drive they ended up finishing in 67th place overall, very good considering the penalty they received earlier in the rally! Due to that they did not qualify for the final two night stages on Wednesday January 19th and Thursday January 20th, as only the top 60 qualifiers were allowed to participate!
So after all the drama they only missed out by 7 places! Not bad considering it was a privateer entry!
Here they are at the end of the rally:
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have putting it together!