Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks
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1968 Australian Rally Championship

1968 ARC winning Ford Lotus Cortina
The 1968 Championship winning Ford Cortina Lotus with Harry Firth and Graham Hoinville


Australian rallying for 1968 constituted the hardest year of this branch of the sport any of the regular contestants had faced. Competition came from some twenty crews in superb vehicles – and those crews had some outstanding events in which to compete under the auspices of CAMS.

Firstly, there was the inaugural Australian Rally Championship (ARC); secondly the Southern Cross International Rally; thirdly, the London to Sydney Marathon, which clashed with the last round of the Championship.

The ARC was a series of six rallies conducted in four states, of which the best five scores counted for the final pointscore. First placed gained 9 points with the following five places earning 6, 4, 3, 2, 1, as was the common scoring system in circuit racing. This system was used until into the 1980s.

Timing was to the minute, with each minute later than the time allowed by the organisers for each stage (then called a section) penalised at the rate of one point per minute or part thereof. If a crew were quicker than the time allowed they ‘clean-sheeted’ the stage and received neither a penalty nor any credit! Over the years timing to the quarter minute came into vogue (sometimes penalised at one minute per quarter minute or part thereof .and other times at quarter minute per quarter minute). Gradually, timing to the second with a penalty of one second per second over the time allowed was adopted and then times allowed were dropped altogether on special stages and the penalty was the time taken. But that was far into the future.

Daylight running was exceptional and in fact if competition was running behind schedule and competitors had to compete in daylight the stages were cancelled. Gradually, some daylight stages were permitted, particularly under the guise for spectators and then daylight stages became the norm, necessitating the course to be ‘sealed’ so that the public did not travel on it. Again, this was well into the future in 1968.

Australia’s population was 11,500,000 in 1968 so there were many open areas where rallying could be conducted and there was little movement by the population at night, although this was quickly changing with the rapid increase of the motor vehicle population.

Most events were conducted on public roads and in 1968 there were very few permissions to be obtained and organisers could run events wherever they chose, although this was rapidly changing and indeed, in New South Wales there was virtually no rallying in 1969 whilst an agreement on the use of shire roads was being worked out between CAMS and the NSW Shires Association. This forced a swing into the use of forest roads.

The National Rally Code came into being in 1967 and formed the basis for the ARC competition.

Barry Ferguson sat out the Championship to concentrate on the New South Wales title, so only ran in the two New South Wales based events (Snowy Rally and Canberra 500 Rally). Harry Firth, John Keran and Max Winkless, who featured in the four ARC events didn’t do the last round due to being absent on the London to Sydney Marathon.

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


This document includes the summary, details of each of the six rounds of the 1968 ARC and is 7 pages in length. 

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