|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||December 17, 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. POS. DRIVER/CO-DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR SCORE POINTS POINTS 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 PRODUCTION CLASS WINNERS 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 UNITED STATES RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL 1981 STANDINGS 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 CO-DRIVER PRODUCTION CO-DRIVER 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 MANUFACTURER PRDUCTION MANUFACTURER 1. Mazda 219 1. Saab 192 2. Peugeot 129 2. Peugeot 136 3. Datsun 86 3. AMC 132 4. Dodge 64 5. Audi 59