While idly flitting around YouTube recently, I happened upon some quite remarkable footage of an event held in the early 1980s. The sort of footage that makes you go all nostalgic and wish that you had a flux capacitor-rigged Delorean.
Why? Because who wouldn’t want to see F1 stars of the day pitched against rally legends, in some of the worst vehicles to ever come off a production line?
Such a treat was once a regular occurrence thanks to the BBC, who once organised an annual competition at Donington Park to see who was the best all-round driver out of the circuit racers and rally aces – an old school Race of Champions, if you will.
The 1983 running of the BBC Sprint Rally happened to be sponsored by British motor manufacturer Austin Rover, and consisted of three separate events. The first being a rally stage in a Rover Vitesse, followed by an autotest in the miniscule Austin Metro, before finishing with a ten-lap race around Donington in an MG Mastero.
The word “glamorous” doesn’t exactly spring to mind, but what the BBC Sprint Rally lacked in sophistication, it more than made up for in its charm and impressive line-up of drivers, which included the likes of Nigel Mansell, Derek Warwick, Stig Blomqvist and Jimmy McRae.
Unsurprisingly, British Rally ace Tony Pond won the rally stage after powersliding his way to an emphatic victory. Mansell also triumphed in similar fashion when it came to the autotest, producing a faultless performance, and in doing so entered the final round just three points adrift of Pond.
The ten-lap race around Donington was what everyone was waiting for though, and their patience was duly rewarded with what was a fantastic display of wheel-to-wheel , no holds barred, racing, as the 110bhp Masteros were thrashed to within an inch of their 6000rpm lives.
I won’t ruin the outcome of the race, but I can assure you that this is ten minutes of sheer brilliance. Try and keep a count of the lead changes, if you can…