Historic rally returns to Banbury after half a century absence

Members of Oxford Motor Club, Douglas Anderson, Monte Carlo UK leg coordinator and councillor Kieron Mallon NNL-171026-130551001
Members of Oxford Motor Club, Douglas Anderson, Monte Carlo UK leg coordinator and councillor Kieron Mallon NNL-171026-130551001

Organisers of the world’s most historic and iconic classic car rally announced today (Thursday, October 26) that it would return to Banbury after a 56 year break.

The Rallye Monte Carlo Historique features classic cars that have ran in the Mote Carlo Rally and pre-date 1981.

Participants of the race would traditionally drive from Scotland and, on their way to the European continent, would travel through Banbury.

The last time the town heard the thunderous roar of race tuned Minis, Zephors and Lancias was 1962 (see video) when they congregated outside the Whately Hall Hotel.

On Thursday, February 1 next year that spectacle will once again captivate the town as up to 30 classic, rally prepared cars from across the UK visit Banbury.

Douglas Anderson, Monte Carlo Rally coordinator for the UK leg, said: “This is an international event, the most famous rally in the world with a global audience.

The Lotus Cortina shows off its proud heritage with one of the icons of British rally driving, Roger Clark, as a past driver NNL-171026-131109001

The Lotus Cortina shows off its proud heritage with one of the icons of British rally driving, Roger Clark, as a past driver NNL-171026-131109001

“Even those without an interest in motorsport have heard of the rally, and after all these years it’s coming back to Banbury.

“It was here 50 years ago and what happened was I was looking through some magazines and I saw it. We’re trying to make it a UK event and to include other towns so they get the benefit of it.

He added: “Where we had the start we had 10,000 people come to see it and they reckon it generated £1M for the local economy.”

The event will run from 11.30am until 1pm and will feature food stalls to ward off the cold and a display of classic cars provided by members of Oxford Motor Club, who will also steward the event.

Engine bay of a 1960s Lotus Cortina NNL-171026-115124001

Engine bay of a 1960s Lotus Cortina NNL-171026-115124001

Simon Marks, vice president of the club, said: “Douglas contacted the club secretary about the rally and we said ‘yes we would be glad to help’. “There is a belief that we helped with checkpoints in the past but that’s before my time.”

The club had bought along the rally prepared Lotus Cortina previously driven by British rally icon Roger Clark to the launch.

Simon added: “This belongs to a long time car enthusiast and collector who now lives in America. This was turned into a rally car we believe in the early 1990s to take part in the then young sport of historic rallies.

“It has done quite a few continental events and is quite a well known car.”

Lotus Cortina and the famous Monte Carlo rally decal NNL-171026-130751001

Lotus Cortina and the famous Monte Carlo rally decal NNL-171026-130751001

The free event is expected to attract car enthusiasts from far and wide and will be welcome addition to Banbury’s events calendar.

Town and county councillor Kieron Mallon also attended the launch and was much enthused about the rally returning.

Mr Mallon said: “The rally always used to have a stage in Banbury and its fantastic that 50 years later it is back.

He added: “This is another boost to the town and shows that clubs, organisations and businesses see Banbury as a destination and a place to show off their wares or promote their cause. We will see the market place full of veteran cars and no doubt veteran drivers as well.”

To find out more about the historic rally click here.