Neal was responsible for bringing Toyota to Australian rallying and keeping the company involved in the sport for over twenty years. His driving abilities, four Australian rally championships and likeable personality have helped lift the media profile of rallying, not only within the motor sport media but also within the mainstream media.
He is a four time winner of the Australian Rally Championship. Neal is a patron of the NSW Rally Championship and is actively involved in helping NSW competitors and events in a mentoring role. He has mentored many up and coming young rally drivers over the past twenty years and continues to “give back” to the sport in many ways. He is an official ambassador for Toyota. He has won the last three Classic Rally Challenges and serves on the Classic Advisory group for ARCom.
Although New Zealand born, Peter (Possum) Bourne spent a large amount of his rallying career in Australia, and in the process captured seven Australian Rally championships between 1996 and 2002 and three Asia Pacific titles. With backing from Subaru he ran the most professional rally team seen in this country.
A hero in his home country, with Peter Brock-like status, he focused on having a presentable image and on giving his sponsors and supporters tangible benefits, making rallying more appealing to the general public. He was passionate about rallying and his infectious enthusiasm inspired his loyal crew and supporters. Possum’s skill and car control brought a new dimension to Australian rallying. He always gave time to his fans and always had a smile on his face. You could not help but like him. His tragic early death cut short a brilliant career.
A capable co-driver for Mitsubishi in the days of the Southern Cross rallies, Garry moved on to become an event organizer and administrator, from National level to the upper echelons of the FIA. His ultimate vision was to obtain a round of the World Rally Championship for Australia and in 1989 this was achieved with the running of Telstra Rally Australia.
Garry was the Clerk of Course of a rally which soon became known as one of the most professionally organised rallies in the world series. Improving competitor safety has always been an issue close to Connelly’s heart. He witnessed first hand the tragic death of Possum Bourne’s co-driver Roger Freeth at Rally Australia, and subsequently became both the Deputy President of the FIA Institute of Motor Sport Safety and Director of the Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety.
“Dunko” is Australia’s most successful rally driver. He won five Australian rally championships and had remarkable success in Asian rallying, winning the Asia Pacific title twice. He won 37 International rallies, competed in two London to Sydney marathons and other major adventure events, and is the greatest personality the sport has produced, with the possible exception of Gelignite Jack Murray. Away from the rally scene, Ross is a successful business man, a popular television personality in Western Australia and a respected after dinner speaker with plenty of stories to tell. He has survived two serious accidents and nineteen roll overs in his career. Ross has actively promoted rallying in his role as television commentator for the ARC series. Ross competes in classic events.
Known as the “Fox”, Harry Firth was always an innovator. When most were running standard cars in rallies, Harry had hotted up cars. When others had three speed gearboxes, Harry had a four speed. He was a great thinker, and his interpretation of the regulations often showed a cunning ability to think sideways. Harry prepared the Ford team cars for the 1968 London to Sydney marathon, in which the cars finished 3rd, 5th and 9th.
After managing the Ford works team during the 1960s Harry then ran the Holden Dealer Team during the 1970s. His personal track successes include two Armstrong 500 endurance races and two Bathurst 500s. He won the inaugural Australian Rally Championship, as well as the first Southern Cross Rally and the 1964 Ampol Round Australia trial. He was a mentor for such rally stars as Frank Kilfoyle, Colin Bond and Peter Lang. In 2007, Harry was inducted into the V8 Supercar Hall of Fame.
John Large, a former pharmacist began his motor sport involvement as a co-driver in rallies, and won the Australian Championship in 1975 as co-driver for Ross Dunkerton. He then moved into motor sport administration, becoming President of CAMS from 1983-1994 the longest serving President to date. In 1994 CAMS created the position of President of Honour with John Large as the first appointee. In 1992 together with ex racer and journalist Max Stahl John created Targa Tasmania, and under Large’s guidance this event has become one of the world’s great tarmac rallies.
He became a member of the FIA Motor Sport Council and during this time played a major role in securing the Australian Grand Prix and a heat of the World Rally Championship for Australia. Large continued to climb the International motor sport ladder, being elected Vice President of the FIA in 1990 and to the FIA Senate in 2001. In 2004 he was also appointed Deputy President of the newly created FIA Institute of Motor Sport Safety. It was extremely rare for a person outside Europe to be appointed to a senior position on such a body, which reflected the regard with which he was held in the world motor sport community.
Jack was a larger than life character. A leading rally driver in NSW, he burst into the limelight by winning the 1954 Redex Round Australia, the first Redex to truly go round Australia, in a 1947 Ford V8 (the Grey Ghost) with no points lost. With the front page publicity these events created, Murray became a household name.
This was enhanced by his liberal use of sticks of gelignite to blast trees blocking the road and the occasional country dunny. Murray’s antics elevated the sport of rallying in the public’s mind, and even triggered the writing of a book about his antics by Evan Green titled “Journeys with Gelignite Jack”.
George was born with the right genes for a life of rallying. His father was Reg Shepheard, the man who initiated the first Redex Trial while manager of the company. George started rallying young, competing in his first Round Australia event in 1964 with Colin Bond in a VW.
He went on to co-drive for Bond in the Australian championship, winning the title on three occasions. He took on the driver’s role in the late 1990s, winning the Queensland Championship three times in the early 2000’s. Team management was George’s great talent, and he took Holden Commodores to a clean sweep of the podium in the Repco Reliability Trial round Australia event in 1979 and engineered victory in the 1995 Mobil 1 Trial, won by Ed Ordynski. He runs a successful suspension business in Queensland and supports his son in Queensland championship events.
Originally from West Australia, Tom is a far sighted innovator, a person who brought many new ideas to Australian rallying. In the early 1970s he worked with Allan Lawson to introduce the Dulux Rally, a totally new concept for Australia which combined track races, hill climbs and rally sections. He then moved to the position of manager of the Southern Cross Rally, bringing Total Oil company sponsorship to the event. He introduced the Solar Challenge event in partnership with adventurer Hans Tholstrup, and then started the Wynns Safari off road event in 1985.
Behind the scenes he has developed a system of procedures which have become standard practice for rallies, particularly long distance events, as well as acting as Clerk of Course for Targa Tasmania and the Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial in 2008. Tom’s contribution to Australian rallying has spanned over 45 years. He has recently been the CoC of the Bega Valley Rally.
In Doug’s early years he was the winning co-driver with Jack Witter in a VW in the 1957 Ampol Round Australia trial, and finished fourth in the 1964 Ampol and fifth in the 1970 Ampol events. He was a regular and rapid competitor in ARC and other events until the late 1970s. Doug made an early connection with Mitsubishi Japan through rallies in New Caledonia and New Guinea, and managed a team of Colt fastbacks in the first Southern Cross Rally in 1966, with Colin Bond and Bob Riley as lead drivers.
The link with Mitsubishi became permanent when Doug became involved in the running of the successful Mitsubishi team in the Southern Cross rallies of the 1970s, Scot Andrew Cowan winning in Mitsubishi products from 1972 -1976. He also ran the successful off road Mitsubishi team in the Wynns and Australian Safari off road events, winning on seven occasions. Stewart was granted the agency for Ralliart, Mitsubishi’s motor sport arm and had great success with Ross Dunkerton as driver. Doug’s administrative career in motor sport started when he chaired the NSW State Council. He then became the NSW representative on the National Council from 1959 to 1968 and National President from 1969 to 1971. Doug is also a member of the Esanda International Rally Hall of Fame.
Donald Thomson served in the RAAF as a flying instructor during World War II and had his first taste of motor sport in 1949, navigating in a trial for Cec Warren the father of long distance rallying in Australia. In 1953 he initiated the Sun Rally, sponsored by Melbourne’s leading daily newspaper, which ran for 2000 kms in Victoria and had 129 starters. This event was run before the first Redex Trial, and it continued for several years until becoming the BP Rally of South Eastern Australia in 1958.
The BP was Australia’s blue ribbon rally at that time, rough and navigational. Donald’s definition of a road was “anything between two fence lines”, a policy he used mercilessly. He became Secretary-General of CAMS soon after its inception, and was always a firm supporter of rallying. He achieved direct affiliation of CAMS with the FIA in 1958 and continued to represent CAMS at FIA meetings after he retired. At his final attendance at the FIA he received the “Honoured Member Award” of the FIA. In 1979 CAMS instituted the Donald Thomson Award, to be awarded to “those persons who, by their actions, have brought credit to the sport and to themselves, particularly by way of a single individual action related to selflessness and consideration for others”.
Ken Tubman, a chemist from Maitland in NSW, made his mark through victories in major events. In 1953 he drove a Peugeot 203 to victory in the first Redex Trial, winning the event by being fastest through a special section near Marulan in NSW. He was a constant competitor in long distance events and in 1970 he together with Andrew Welinski and Jim Reddiex won the London-Sahara-Munich World Cup Rally in a Citroen. In 1977 Ken was appointed Grand Marshall of the Singapore Airlines London to Sydney Rally and laid out the tough Australian section of the course. Ken was a mild mannered, popular person, always ready to help others in rally matters. He was among the leaders in the 1974 World Cup rally before sacrificing his chances by stopping to help a fellow competitor who had crashed.
Bob’s finest driving achievement was winning the 1970 Australian Championship in a 1.3 litre Renault R8 Gordini, taking victory in four of the five heats and coming second in the other. He has driven for Holden, Ford, Nissan and Renault factory teams. He has run in three Round Australia trials, competed in the 1972 East African Safari, the 1977 Singapore Airlines London to Sydney marathon and won the first European style rally in Australia, the Don Capasco in a Renault Alpine. He also had track success at Sandown and Bathurst in a Holden Monaro. On the organizing side he helped form the Historic Rally Association in 1992, which now has over 800 members. He organized and was Clerk of Course for the 1995 Mobil 1 Round Australia Trial, and the Red Centre to Gold Coast trial in 2008.
Bob was responsible for writing the regulations for special stage rallies whilst a member of the National Rally Committee, was series Director for the BP sponsored Australian Rally Championship in the early 1990s, and chaired a committee to write the vehicle eligibility regulations for tarmac Rallies. He has written three books on Australian motor sport: his own autobiography, In Control, the history of the Light Car Club of Australia, Phillip Island to Fangio, and the biography of Ross Dunkerton, “Dunko”.