1967–1976: THE BE­GIN­NING

Motor Sport News - - Retro: Rallycross At 50 -

The first ever rallycross event was held on February 4, 1967 at Ly­d­den Hill, and was based on an idea dreamt up by ITV World of Sport pro­ducer, Robert Reed.

In Novem­ber 1966, Reed had cov­ered a rain-hit hill­climb in Yorkshire, and see­ing the com­pet­ing cars strug­gle to re­turn to the pad­dock on a slip­pery loose sur­face had been just as en­ter­tain­ing as the event it­self, which sparked his ini­tial idea.

Fol­low­ing a dis­cus­sion with Bud Smith from the 750 Motor Club, who sug­gested us­ing Ly­d­den – then owned by Bill Ches­son – Reed ar­ranged the use of an out­side broad­cast unit and cam­eras to cover the in­au­gu­ral event, and a range of ‘name’ driv­ers were in­vited. Broad­cast on Satur­day af­ter­noon, suc­cess­ful rally man Vic El­ford bor­rowed a Porsche 911 for the first event, and won it.

Rallycross was re­peated a month later at Ly­d­den, and the sport be­gan to ex­pand around the UK, ini­tially at Croft and then Cad­well Park. Hav­ing moved into Europe, Bri­tish driver John Tay­lor claimed the first Euro­pean Rallycross Championship in 1973, in a Ford Es­cort.

The FIA sanc­tioned the Euro­pean se­ries from 1976, and it was Aus­trian Franz Wurz, fa­ther of fu­ture For­mula 1 and Le Mans driver Alexan­der Wurz, who claimed the ti­tle in a Lan­cia Stratos, with an en­gine loaned from Fer­rari. The same year, Trevor Hop­kins won the first Bri­tish Rallycross Championship in an Es­cort. Just a year af­ter the sport had be­gun, in 1968, ITV was joined by the BBC as a broad­caster of rallycross, and soon the legendary Mur­ray Walker would be com­men­tat­ing on the dual-sur­face dis­ci­pline on the Satur­day af­ter­noon

Grand­stand pro­gramme.

El­ford barged his way to vic­tory in first-ever event

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