Reno International PRO Rally 1981



RENO, Nevada-- The finale of the 1981 SCCA PRO Rally season proved to be a Grande Finale, indeed. The Reno International PRO Rally lived up to its name as South Africans Sarel van der Merwe and Franz Boshoff drove their British Ford Escort to a 12 minute win over the British Vauxhall Chevette V6 HSR of Donie Keating and Bernard Smith of Ireland. Third in the 600 mile rally went to New Zealanders John Woolf and Grant Whittaker in their Japanese Mazda RX-7. Top Americans in the three day, 21 stage PRO Rally were Larry Schmidt and Joe Andreini of Michigan in their Dodge Colt while husband/wife team, Wayne and Debra Baldwin rounded out the top five in their Volvo GLT.

Production Class was an all-American show as Guy Light and Jim Brandt of Michigan drove their American Motors Eagle SX/4 to an eight minute win over another husband/wife team, Gary and Carolyn Eaton in a Peugeot 505. John Crawford and Craig Marr were third in Production in their Dodge Omni. The Eatons had lead the class from start until two stages from the end when a series of yumps flatted a tire and gave Gary a painful compression injury in his back. They hung on for a second place finish.

Van der Merwe, who had passed up the RAC rally in England because of its reputation for bad weather, took the lead right from the start an amazing feat considering that the first stage of the rally was run in snow which Van der Merwe had never seen, let alone rallied in. Current U.S. PRO Rally Champion, New Zealander Rod MilIen, stayed hot on Van der Merwe's tail all day Sunday in his Mazda RX-7 and, when the South African had a puncture on Monday, the Kiwi moved into the lead. Millen's incredible string of luck (11 starts, 11 finishes, 8 firsts this season) finally ran out on the very last stage of the rally when a rear axle let go putting him on the sideline. He had plenty of company as only 42 of the original 91 entrants finished. Four time Canadian Champion Taisto Heinonen's Toyota Corolla ran out of electrics just three miles from the end of the last stage while lying third, and former U.S. Champion John Buffum blew an engine on his Audi 4000 early on Monday.

The gala rally was a true happening with start and finish in the lights and glitter of downtown Reno, a stage in the parking lot of the MGM Grand hotel, parties at nearly every casino in Reno and Sparks, and an elephant waving a checkered flag at the Nugget Hotel and Casino as the cars arrived.

At the victory banquet at Harrahs, the winners were treated to a bag filled with a thousand silver dollars and the balance of their prize money in one thousand dollar bills. A fitting climax to a season which saw more than 800 entrants at 13 events win an estimated $200,000 in prize and contingency monies.

The winter season for rally people is very short as the 1982 Championship opens with the 300 mile Big Bend Bash rally in the south Texas desert February 19-21. For more information about the wild world of PRO Rallying, the past year and the new season, contact the Rally Department at SCCA's headquarters.

SCCA CONTACT: Tim Cline (203) 453-1742, T. Michael Moreland (303) 770-1044



EVENT: Reno International				EVENT CONDUCTED BY: Reno Region, SCCA
LOCATION: Reno, Nevada					LENGTH: 600+ miles, 21 special stages
DATE: December 11-14, 1981				WEATHER: Cool, some rain and snow
ENTRANTS: 91; FINISHERS: 42				TERRAIN: Mountains and high desert roads

FIN.											CHAMP.	MFG.
 1.	Sarel Van der Merwe, South Africa	Ford Escort		212.97		20	20
	Franz Boshoff, South Africa							20

 2.	Donie Keating, Ireland			Vauxhall		224.53		15	15
	Bernard Smith, Ireland			Chevette				15

 3.	John Woolf, Santa Ana, CA		Mazda RX-7		226.94		12	12
	Grant Whittaker, Santa Ana, CA							12

 4.	Larry Schmidt, Rochester, MI		Dodge Colt		239.36		10	10
	Joe Andreini, St. Clair Shores, MI						10

 5.	Wayne Baldwin, Waldwick, NJ		Volvo GLT		241.73		 8	 8
	Debbie Baldwin, Waldwick, NJ						 	 8

 6.	Steve Mizel, Denver, CO			Ford Bronco		247.96		 6
	Ron Boeck, Palo Alto, CA							 6

 7.	Topi Hynynen, N. Hollywood, CA		Volvo 142		256.24		 4
	Adrian Crane, Palo Alto, CA							 4

 8.	Jack Warye, Garden Grove, CA		Ford Pickup		256.43		 3
	Karol Vanzant, Santa Ana, CA							 3

 9.	Steve Johnson, Lafayette, CA		Jeep CJ-7		256.97		 2
	Pat Buckley, Concord, CA							 2

10.(1P)	Guy Light, Midland, MI			AMC Eagle		260.32		 1
	Jim Brandt, Lake Odessa, Mi		SX/4					 1           

 1.	Guy Light, Midland, MI			AMC Eagle		260.32		20	20
	Jim Brandt, Lake Odessa, MI		SX/4					20

 2.	Gary Eaton, Ann Arbor, MI		Peugeot 505		268.33		15	15
	Carolyn Eaton, Ann Arbor, MI							15

 3.	John Crawford, Belleview, MI		Dodge Omni		276.99		12	12
	Craig Marr, Oroville, CA							12


DRIVER (Current Car)						PRODUCTION DRIVER (Current Car)
1. Rod Millen, Mazda             140				1. Jon Davis, Saab       	140
2. John Woolf, Mazda              97				2. Guy Light, AMC        	117
3. John Buffum, Audi              86				3. Gary Eaton, Peugeot   	102
4. Jean-Paul Perusse, Peugeot     82
5. Jon Woodner, Datsun            73

1. R. Dale Kraushaar             140				1. Harry Ward            	140
2. Doug Shepherd                 101				2. Jim Brandt            	117
3. Grant Whittaker                97				3. Carolyn Eaton         	102
4. Clark Bond                     64
5. Joe Andreini                   58
1. Mazda                         219				1. Saab                  	192
2. Peugeot                       129				2. Peugeot               	136
3. Datsun                         86				3. AMC                   	132
4. Dodge                          64
5. Audi                           59

Results 81
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