I rallied one

Andy Dawson
This all-rounder managed something works drivers never could – he won a UK rally in a Stratos…

“It was quite simple, really. I was looking for a car and went to Graham Warner and asked if we could do a deal for the Tour of Dean in his Chequered Flag car. That was at the beginning of 1976, and Motor Sport’s Clive Richardson sat next to me. Unfortunately the gearbox jammed but we made it to the finish. Then came the Mintex Rally. A Stratos is a delight to drive but you have to grab it by the scruff of the neck and it’s not really designed for forest rallies. I won the Mintex but I don’t think anyone really appreciates just how difficult it was. The car was falling apart around me. Everyone thinks the Stratos was a really powerful car but it had no low-down grunt and wasn’t as quick in a straight line as the Escorts. What it did have was fantastic traction exiting tight corners – it was great out of 90-deg bends and that I think helped on the Mintex.

“Just to illustrate how fragile it was, our next event was the Granite City Rally. We made it maybe 200 yards into the first stage before it broke. But I have to say, the Stratos was the most satisfying car I’ve ever driven. I tested ‘my’ old Chequered Flag car for a magazine article back in the early ’90s, and within 100 yards of getting in it, I was sideways with a big smile on my face. A wonderful car.”