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July 19, 2018
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RAC Rally Action! – From the 60s, 70s & 80s (Leather)

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RAC Rally Action! – From the 60s, 70s & 80s (Leather)

By Tony Gardiner
About the Author

Leather edition • 208 pages • 250mm tall x 250mm • 330 photos

ISBN: 1-84584-049-6

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£ 350.00 + P&P (eBook prices vary, and delivery is free)

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Chapter Titles Sample Text


The next best thing to being there!
Covering the pre-WRC 'Rally of the Forests' period
An incredibly detailed and highly illustrated review of a great era of rallying
Over 250 photographs, most of which are published for the first time
Reproductions of rally documents, including regulations, programmes, road books, and crew notes


This book truly represents an enthusiast’s view of the RAC Rally: allowing you to relive the events if you were there, or offering the next best thing if you weren’t.
Tony always took a week of his annual leave to watch ‘The RAC’, and reckons he covered more than 28,000 miles chasing rally stages around the country. Luckily for us, he always took his trusty Zenit camera and recorded hundreds of moments of RAC Rally action, each now frozen in time for posterity. These images, which have not previously been published, have an energy which brings the rally back to life and reminds us how far removed modern rallying is from the much simpler pre-WRC era.
For all who love the ‘Rally of the Forests’ period of top level rallying, here is an incredibly involving evocation of three decades of great motorsport. All aspects of the event are covered including rare photos from manufacturers’ archives, rally documents (regulations, programmes, road books, crew notes), and a full colour cutaway illustration of a famous winning car.
This publication has full approval of the Royal Automobile Club and the Motor Sports Association.

Independent Reviews

Review by Peter Joy for British Racing Mechanics Club, December 2006

This 204-page hardback features 344 great black & white and colour action shots and is Tony Gardiner’s very personal review of the glory days of the RAC Rally. These images, which have not previously been published, have an energy which brings the rally back to life and reminds us how far removed modern rallying is from the much simpler pre-WRC era. Whilst it is neither a lavishly produced photo-essay nor an exhaustively researched history, if you have any interest at all in rallying’s golden age, an era when it was actually worth spending time in a Welsh forest being pebbledashed by a passing ‘bubble-arched’ Escort, it is an absolute must. The book allows you to relive the events if you were there at the time, or offers the next best thing if you weren’t.

For people of ‘a certain age’ the memories stirred are priceless.

Review from Classics Monthly, July 2006

'The whole point of this book is that it represents an enthusiast's view of the RAC Rally' - so runs the intro of this book and that really sums it up. Starting in 1960 and ending in 1981 the history of the RAC Lombard is detailed, and there really isn't a dull picture among them. From the three-man crewed Zodiac to the unusual choice of a Mustang GT350 every shot is full of action.

A great value tome.

Review by Darren Galpin on, January 2006

The RAC Rally - when mentioned in the same breath as "Lombard", it conjures up images of rallying when Rally Great Britain meant Great Britain, and the rally was five days long, taking in the likes of Kielder and Dyfi. It was a time when navigators were navigators - rather than reading from pacenotes, they had to read from OS maps like everyone else. It is a time that is often only written about by the likes of John Davenport in MotorSport.

What RAC Rally Action! does is to provide a picture backdrop to this era, covering a whole variety of cars along the way, from a Matra Murena to a Lancia Stratos, taking in some of British Leyland's best along the way (Austin 1800 anyone?). It starts in 1960, and through a series of wonderful pictures takes you into the 1970s, which is where the book really gets going with a series of evocative images which demonstrate the varied conditions which the competitors faced. Cutaway drawings of the Mini and TR7 add an extra touch, as do photographs of various memorabilia. Author Tony Gardiner has done a good job in creating a photo record of this era. It also features a text which takes you through the story of each rally, recalling the main points, what happened to the main entrants, and other useful snippets of information to convey the glue that binds the pictures together.

The book does have its quirks - it stops at the end of 1983, and the start of the Group B era, but then mentions the Lombard RAC Revival of 2004. This would have made sense to me if the book had continued through to the end of the Lombard era, rather than stopping early, but as the foreword and the blurb make clear, this is an enthusiasts book, and thus it reflects this enthusiasts likes and dislikes. Another minor niggle is that although all of the pictures say where they were taken, they don't always say when, so as the images progress through the years you don't always know the cross-over point and in which year a particular picture was taken.

It is also not a book for statisticians, as it won't give you the full results for each rally. But that is not its raison d'etre. It's a book to demonstrate all that attracts about rallying and the efforts needed to overcome the elements. It's a book which could be left out on the table and interest people who normally have no interest in rallying. It's a book that you could keep coming back to.

Review from Octane Magazine, January 2006

Usually the book granted top billing on these pages [Octane Magazine] is a lavishly produced photo-essay or exhaustively researched history; sometimes both. This book is neither - but if you've any interest at all in rally's golden age, It's an absolute must-have.

Attractively laid out, with clear captions and concise descriptions of each year's event, the book's, and the author's lack of pretensions seem perfectly in tune with this most down-to-earth of rally subjects.

Review from Retro Cars Magazine, January 2006

The glamorous publicity shots so often used to add a bit of gloss to the average coffee table rally book don't really tell the full story of the UK's love affair with the RAC Rally. In RAC Rally Action, Tony Gardiner has attempted to do just that by using an appealing combination of amateur photography and period publicity material.

Most of the 250 photographs are published here for the first time and give a rare down-to-earth look behind the scenes of the RAC from the '60s to the '90s. A true enthusiast, Gardiner reckons to have travelled 28,000 miles chasing rally stages around the country and captured many of his images using an obscure Russian Zenit camera - we're talking manual focus, manual metering and grainy'70s blackand-white film. If modern World Rally Championship rallying leaves you cold and you yearn for the days of two-stroke Saabs and flying Mantas then you'll love this one. It's big too, at 208 pages hardback.

Review by Robert Young for Mini World, January 2006

This book has been a long time coming, but well worth the wait. The original intention of Tony Gardiner was to write a book, heavy with contemporary pictures, of all the Minis that competed on the RAC Rally. However, the original plan has now been expanded to cover all cars on this wonderful home event of ours. The book spans the halcyon days of the RAC from 1960 up to 1983, when the event entered the forests and travelled the length and breadth of the country on its traditional November date.

The book has a wealth of original photographs, most of which have never been seen before. This is due in no small part to the author having taken his own camera out on a great number of these events, driving his trusty Mini, like so many of us did, following this once brilliant event. Tony reckons he has covered over 28,000 miles following the RAC Rally, and with 344 photographs illustrating the book, many in colour, he has a wealth of experience of the event to draw upon. The stock of Tony's superb photographs is also ably supplemented by those from the car manufactures' archives and from personal collections.

The important selection criteria for these pictures was not just to show the winning Works cars and the strong factory contenders but also to give good coverage to all the other clubman and privateers who always make up the bulk of the entry - right down to the Minis running at the back of the field, in Escort size ruts! The flavour of the event is captured superbly.

The book is therefore heavy on photographs, just as originally planned, with a brief but informative commentary on the highlights of the rally of the year. It is not a record or report of every RAC run, but a picture chronicle of the action from these years. It is also interspersed with many copies from original documents, programmes, regulations and route details of many of the event. The route of the 1966 RAC, literally covering the entire length of the country, starting from the Excelsior Hotel at London Airport, takes some swallowing compared to that of the watered down offering centred just around Cardiff that we are left with today!

The forward is written by Paddy Hopkirk, who although he never won the event, is very enthusiastic about the golden age of the RAC. To quote Hopkirk "there is nothing wimpish about the rallies of the golden era, as the photos of this book bring alive".

This book is highly recommended to anyone interested in rallying and in particular the great days of the much missed, proper RAC Rally. If you have any cash left over after the Christmas excesses or that postal order from your auntie still to spend, do treat yourself. In hardback form, it is not cheap, but worth every penny. You won't be disappointed.


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