Rallying legend Rauno Aaltonen was the star of Race Retro, the historic motor sport show, when he threw an Aston Martin GT rally car around the live rally stage moments after showing his prowess at the wheel of a Mini Cooper.
Now aged 71, the easy-going Finn proved that he has lost none of his ability behind the wheel by thrilling fans with his handling of the modern Aston, a rally car developed by David Appleby. Recent British Rally champion Mark Higgins was equally spectacular at the wheel of the V8 monster.
“Life is good. Cars are magnificent. I have many interests in life and cars are one of the most important,” said Aaltonen. “I am quite deeply involved in the new Mini; talking to people about it, driving it and demonstrating it. And I have, with my son, a high-level driving school in Finland.”
Ex-works Minis, many from Aaltonen’s time as a works driver, packed out the static displays as the 50th anniversary of the Mini formed a cornerstone of the event at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.
Also in action on the live rally stage was Russell Brookes, driving three cars from his long career. Most notable was the Ford Sierra Cosworth (left) he used on four asphalt rallies in 1989, which has been preserved exactly as it finished the Rally of the Lakes that year. Still owned by Brookes’ former sponsor, the Sierra had only been run once before in two decades.
Despite the state of the economy, exhibitors reported an encouraging response to the three-day exhibition in March, which showcases all forms of historic motor sport.