Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks

1976 Australian Rally Championship

1976 Australian Rally Champions – Ross Dunkerton, Jeff Beaumont and Datsun 240Z
1976 Australian Rally Champions – Ross Dunkerton, Jeff Beaumont and Datsun 240Z

1976 CAMS AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

1976 was a mixed year for Australian Rallying. The year provided both good and not so good news. The two major international rallies on the calendar, the Southern Cross Rally and the Castrol Rally provided plenty of action with both events attracting top fields as regards numbers and quality of crews, first class organisation and much improved publicity.

On the other hand, however, the Australian Rally Championship series had not developed into a truly national competition it was designed for. Over the years, rising costs, the occasional poor-run event and what many considered as ridiculous vehicle eligibility regulations all combined to prevent the ARC from becoming a top series. In 1976 certainly the weather played a part with the projected first round, the Mazda House Rally, being twice postponed and then finally cancelled because of heavy rain. Organisational difficulties caused problems, with the West Australian round so poorly organised that competing crews went on ‘strike’ at one stage rather than continue. The South Australian round had no pre-event publicity and was rewarded with the smallest field in a major event for many years. The Bega Valley Rally wasted the entire first of its two nights by using uncompetitive roads.

Vehicle regulations did not help either. Victorian George Fury, driving a Datsun 710, won three of the four rounds he contested but the vehicle was not eligible for championship points. This happened despite the fact that it was an homologated car eligible to run in the Southern Cross Rally and any other major international event. It was being run the ARC to sort it out for the Southern Cross Rally.

Ross Dunkerton/Jeff Beaumont (Datsun 240Z) won the series, well clear of the second placed Dean Rainsford/Graham West (Porsche Carrera RS), and it was Dunkerton’s successive driver’s championship and he was the only driver to contest all six rounds. Rainsford attended five events, as did third placed David Jones/Brian Marsden (Mitsubishi Galant), while Danny Bignell (Datsun 240Z) ran in three and finished fourth, as did Ed Mulligan/Fred Gocentas (Holden Torana L34) but they failed to feature in the top six. The Greg Carr/Wayne Gregson (Datsun 180B SSS) car was subsequently found to be ineligible during the Bega Valley Rally and it dropped out of the series.

Many people considered the series a washout but there was light on the horizon however, as the CAMS National Rally Committee was considering changing the vehicle requirements for 1977, thus enabling many more leading crews to contest the series. Many in the sport agreed that it was about time that CAMS did something about the vehicle eligibility for the championship.

Vehicle Eligibility
Vehicle eligibility was based on CAMS Group C – Australian Touring Cars

Championship Point-scoring
1st = 9, 2nd = 6, 3rd = 4, 4th = 3, 5th = 2, 6th = 1

 

1976 CAMS AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

This document includes the summary, details of each of the six rounds of the 1976 ARC and is 8 pages in length. 

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