Your editorial about the Lancia Stratos in the March issue brought back memories of the 1975 RAC when I was marshalling in Clipstone Forest.
Everyone wanted to see (and hear!) the Stratos, but when Björn Waldegård appeared at ‘our’ corner it was obvious that he was in trouble. Indeed, he pulled off at the junction.
A brief look confirmed that a driveshaft had broken, but Waldegård couldn’t contact his service crew by radio because their plane was not in the air that day. A spectator volunteered to take a message out to the crew, and a note was scribbled down by Hans Thorszelius, Waldegård’s co-driver.
Leaving the other marshalls at the bend, I set off in my Viva HA, to try to find a way out of Clipstone on the tracks not used as part of the stage. But we could not get far and the volunteer set off on foot; I returned to the corner.
Eventually, a small Italian gent wearing a very long coat appeared through the trees. On reaching the stricken Stratos, he opened his coat to reveal a driveshaft and sufficient tools to change it. This was completed in just 20min and the second he had finished, Waldegård was in the car and away – minus the rear body work which had been removed to access the driveshaft. He was not about to waste time re-fitting it. A number of spectators volunteered to carry the bodywork out of the stage, and disappeared with it into the forest.
Waldegård was very calm and cool during the whole episode. He was eventually excluded at the finish, but he had gone on to post 44 fastest stage times, compared to winner Timo Mäkinen’s two…
Incidentally, a little further down the stage Ari Vatanen had rolled his Escort into the trees.
Bob Nutton, Sheffield
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