A couple of weeks ago, the Canadian rally community celebrated 50 years with a Celebration in Toronto. Past Canadian Rally Champion Randy Black tells us about the event.
A FIFTIETH CELEBRATION OF CANADIAN RALLYING
For those who couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make the Celebration, I offer this synopsis. Enter the foyer of the Double Tree Hotel on Dixon Road near Pearson Airport and there were five rally cars representing five decades of rallying. A MK II Cortina, a 510, TaistoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬â„¢82 Celica painted as it was campaigned that year, SpronglÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Audi Quattro and a Subaru Canada WRX grabbed the eye of all who walked through the foyer.
Upstairs on the mezzanine salon sized rooms were dedicated to various aspects of the celebration. The Memorabilia Room displayed artifacts and photos dedicated to the same five decades plus an extensive Shell 4000 coverage that was flanked by a tribute to rallyists who are no longer with us. Everyone who attended was impressed by the extensive collection and the significance of rallyingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history.
Next door six symposiums were presented. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Early YearsÃ¢â‚¬Â, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Transition to Stage RallyingÃ¢â‚¬Â, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Rally StarsÃ¢â‚¬Â, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Targa NewfoundlandÃ¢â‚¬Â, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Special Rally EventsÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“The FutureÃ¢â‚¬Â. Three each day as I joined Tom Burgess, George Dewar and Chair, Doug Woods as we highlighted the Ã¢â‚¬Å“TransitionÃ¢â‚¬Â. Essentially, we visited how stage rallying evolved, how we got there and why. The Rally Stars comprised of mega winners, Walter Boyce, Jean-Paul Perusse, Taisto Heinonen, Frank Sprongl Trish McGeer and John Buffum. Now Buffum isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Canadian, but he is the Ã¢â‚¬ËœwinningestÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ North American driver ever with over 100 wins, with 43 in Canada. He never joined a Canadian rally club so never qualified to win a Canadian championship, but certainly deserved his invitation.
Down the hall in a third salon, both retired and novice rallyists enjoyed films of past and recent rallies. Remember when Les Taylor and Ken Humphries landed upside down in the quarry at a RallySprint? Well, we got to see that rescue once again! The Rally Master was included in the vast repertoire of film that Bryn Epp organized and programmed to show continuously throughout the celebration.
Highlight of the weekend was the Banquet where over 200 attended, including about thirty previous champions. The MCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s were Martin Headland and Luc Brunet. Before the main presentation, current and previous Joan McAlpine winners were recognized — Natalie Richard, Trish McGeer, Mary Crundwell-Edwardes, Cathrine Skowronnek and Betty Schmidt. Keynote speaker was Tom Burgess who has rallied 48 of the 50 years being celebrated. He ably accomplished the challenge of delivering an entertaining but poignant reminder of how rallying and the people associated with the sport have achieved the level of today.
Joining the 2006 winners, the previous champions were called to the stage from most recent to most senior where U of T Mathematics Professor John Bird, a champion navigator from the sixties, presented Antoine LÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Estage and Ole Holter their 2006 trophies. The Fidler and Deak trophies were refurbished and brought up to date for this occasion. The trophies had been untouched for many years having been nearly abandoned in a warehouse in Toronto. Turns out the Fidler Trophy is solid silver, not just silver plated. This was the first time many of us had seen these respective Trophies and if the Fidler Trophy was presented to me, in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢81 or Ã¢â‚¬â„¢83, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t not recall.
At our table were Bill and Linda Allen, Bo and Cathrine Skowronnek, Tom and Ann Burgess, Marilynn and I. At nearby tables were Walter Boyce, Doug, Jennifer and daughter Catharine Woods who is now a rallyist. Also nearby were Taisto Heinonen, Robin Edwardes, Mary Crundwell-Edwardes, Ross Wood and Donna Castledine. That so many were able to gather and celebrate made this weekend a particularly special occasion.
Attempting to mention all the attending Champions would be a challenge that only CARS Manager and event organizer Terry Epp would be up to! Top row second from right is Randy flanked by Raymond Cadieux and Tom Burgess.
Front row is Paul Manson, Mike Koch, Terry Epp, Natalie Richard, Antoine LÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Estage, Trish McGeer, Mary Crundwell-Edwardes, Betty and Bruce Schmidt, Walter Boyce, Doug Woods, Jean-Paul Perusse, and Taisto.