The Old BP Rally returns...

The Historic Rally Association this weekend is celebrating 50 years since the running of the first BP Rally of South Eastern Australia in 1958, with the running of the 2008 BP Ultimate Rally.

The BP rally ran continuously from 1958 to 1973 as a tough four day rally across Victoria and into adjoining states, always run on Mothers Day weekend, with challenging navigation and driving conditions when May used to be wetter than it is these days. It has been conducted at roughly five year intervals since as “the Old BP Rally”.

The BP rally was organised for the first nine years by Donald Thomson, a motorsport legend, who had a clear philosophy for the rally:

“Roads should be obscure, certainly; they should even include some which are rough or abandoned: but the best test is to pick a fair average of surfaces such is might generally be encountered by an Australian traveller outback. If you want to find the types of car – and men – who are best suited to the outback areas of our great and pretty empty land, then you must design a representative test. Road surfaces should include stretches of bitumen, gravel, pot-holes, grass and dirt. Speeds should be those used by a reasonable man determined to reach home by nightfall. Commonsense and initiative is said to be characteristic of Australians, and victory or defeat in these tours usually depends on that quality combined with determination and sportsmanship for which Australians also have a name.”

This year’s event will continue that approach, starting on Thursday 1 May in Pakenham and heading east to Gippsland then over the mountains to the Riverina, then onto the Mallee before returning south to a Ballarat finish in the early hours of Sunday morning.

It will be confined to historic rally cars built before 1985, with most from the 60’s and 70’s. While well maintained, the crews are not afraid to take their cars onto remote mountain and mallee tracks.

A special luncheon to celebrate 50 years of BP Rallies will be conducted on Sunday after the rally at Dowling Forest Racecourse, on the edge of Ballarat.

The organisers are trying to locate as many as possible competitors from the original BP Rallies to come along for the nostalgic celebration.


More info on the 2008 bp ultimate rally page