1967–1976: THE BEGINNING
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
Elford barged his way to victory in first-ever event