Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks
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About the Author

Tom Snooks was a competitor in Western Australia in the 1960s, winning the 1967 West Australian Navigators Championship with Ray Jackson, in a HK Holden Ute. He also organise club days for the West Australian Car Club, as well as a number of State Championship events.

In 1968 he navigated for Bob Bulloch in that year’s Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney Southern Cross Rally, in a Fiat 125, and finished!

He organised the Perth start of the 1970 Ampol Round Australia Trial (cars started in each capital city and the competitors then assembled at Port August prior to continuing to the Trial start at Alice Springs) and flew to Sydney for that event’s finish – and stayed there!

It didn’t take long for Tom to find the Horsepower Bar in a hotel near Sydney’s Central Railway Station and become caught up with the motor sport fraternity (both racing and rallying) that gathered there on Wednesday nights, and this led him to join the Australian Sporting Car Club (ASCC – the organiser of the Southern Cross and Snowy, later Bega Valley, Rallies). He was Secretary of the club from 1971 to 1978.

From 1972 Tom became fulltime in organising motor sport events, following a career as a Production Controller in factories, and was hereafter never in a ‘real job’ employment situation!

The major events he has been closely associated with are:

  • 1971 &1972 Dulux Rallies – assistant to Clerk of Course in ‘71 and then Clerk of Course in ’72;
  • 1971 to 1977 Southern Cross Rallies – General Manager 1973 to 1977;
  • 1976 to 1980 Total Oil Economy Runs (Sydney to Melbourne) – Event Coordinator;
  • 1979 Repco Reliability Trial (around Australia) – General Manager;
  • 1985 to 1992 Wynns/Australian Safari – Co-founder and Promoter and Executive Director;
  • 1993 to 2003 Targa Tasmania – Sporting Consultant in ‘93 and Clerk of Course 1994 to 2003;
  • 1995 Mobil One Round Australia Trial – Chief Administrator;
  • 1998 Playstation Round Australia Rally – Chief Administrator;
  • 1999 to 2002 Australian Safari – Chief Administrator;
  • 1999 to 2003 Grand Prix Rally – Clerk of Course;
  • 2002 to 2005 Classic Adelaide Rally – Clerk of Course;
  • 2008 Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial – Clerk of Course;
  • 2009 to 2018 Classic Outback Trial – Clerk of Course;
  • 2009 to 2013 Bega Valley Rally – Clerk of Course;
  • 2017 Targa Florio Touring Event – Clerk of Course.

Tom has also had a distinguished career with the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), the major motor sport controlling body in the country, having worked in head office during 1982 to 1984; then taking on being Secretary and Chair of the National Rally Committee (1982 to 1988), and Chair of a number of other CAMS National Committees/Commissions. He has written 18 manuals on creating and running a car club and ‘How to Organise’ Club events (all on the CAMS website). In recent times he drafted for the FIA (on behalf of CAMS) a development manual to guide national motor sport bodies (the equivalent of CAMS) worldwide on how to set up their motor sport structure.

Tom has been the Minutes Secretary for the six CAMS National Commissions – Race, Historic, Rally, Off Road, Club Sport Development and Officials) – since 2014, taking in some 50 meetings a year (face–to-face meetings and teleconferences).

Tom Snooks is the holder of the CAMS number one officials licence (88/1) and has been recognised for his contribution to CAMS Motor Sport by being selected as the inaugural National Officer of the Year (1996), awarded the Australian Sports Medal (2000), was the third recipient (after the founders John Large and Ronda Matthews) of Targa Tasmania Hall of Fame, and a member of the Inaugural Recipients of the CAMS Rally Hall of Fame (2013). He was honored with Life Membership of CAMS in 2012.