Elford takes first rallycross

February 4 1967, Lydden Hill

by Hal Ridge |

Porsche driver Vic Elford claimed the first ever rallycross victory, driving a borrowed 911 for the event at Lydden Hill in Kent, which proved a great hit with spectators.

A range of stars were invited to take part in the new discipline. Created specifically for television, it was Elford who claimed the win in a thrilling encounter racing door-to-door with Brian Melia (Lotus Cortina), Roger Clark (Cortina GT) and Tony Fall (Mini Cooper) among others.  The victory came even despite the long ‘road specification’ gearing on Elford’s AFN Concessionaires-owned 911 not suiting the short nature of the mixed-surface circuit.

In the first race, shown live on ITV, Elford trailed Melia in the early stages, his 911’s windscreen getting heavily damaged by the shale on the loose section. However, after two laps it was the Porsche driver who would claim the fastest time by just 0.2s. That benchmark wouldn’t be bettered, as drivers became more cautious in the later runs.

In the final race, it was Tony Fall who posted the biggest threat to Elford, the pair competing side-by-side for much of the race, but was brought to a premature end when Fall landed his Mini sideways on a stone at the back of the circuit and suffered a puncture. Undeterred, he made it to the chequered flag even without the tyre.

Bob Freeborough’s event was heavily compromised in practice. He hit the bank on the exit of the loose hairpin and rolled his BMC Factory Mini. The team now faces a race against time to prepare the car as it heads straight to the recce of the Flowers Rally with Paddy Hopkirk.

There were a few delays during this new sport’s first event, not least because of a hold-up in proceedings in the horse racing from Kempton that changed the television slot. The down-time from live TV did give local club drivers the opportunity to compete and it was Mike Day who set the fastest time in the morning session. He would later spin in the afternoon, his Turner stranded on track. Mike Butler, driving a left-hand drive Lotus Cortina bettered Day’s time in the afternoon and finished the event fourth overall, ahead of Roger Clark’s Cortina, while Day finished the event joint sixth. Melia and Fall joined Elford on the podium in second and third.

“It was totally new, I personally liked it very much. I love to race whether it’s on a race track or muddy field, so having that lot all together suited me down to the ground,” said Elford, (50 years later). “I’m absolutely proud to have won the first rallycross event.”

The event was acknowledged as a great success, but the shale surface on the unfinished section of Lydden’s race tarmac did damage to a number of cars and may need addressing for further events, but such was the positive reaction from competitors and spectators that organisers expect that to take place in a few week’s time.

Rallycross, Lydden Hill, February 4 : 1 Vic Elford (Porsche 911) 2m 11.2s, 2 Brian Melia (Lotus Cortina) +0.2s, 3 Tony Fall (Mini Cooper) +1.8s, 4 Mike Butler (Lotus Cortina) +4.8s, 5 Roger Clark (Ford Cortina) +6.2s, 6 Tony Skelton (Mini Cooper) +10.8, = Mike Day (Turner) +10.8

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