Author: GianniBu

1986 Olympus Rally Revisited: Brooklyn stages part 1

After the crappy, pouring down rain of Friday, Saturday dawned clear and cold and a bit icy.  We spent the night at my parents vacation house near Shelton, WA and got up early and headed for the stages held near Raymond, WA.

Again, these photos were taken by my good friend Denton  Morris.  He has graciously scanned his photos and is allowing me to post them here. Denton is a professional photographer and you can see his recent work at his website  The photos below are Denton’s property and he holds all the rights to them, so please don’t fold, spindle or mutilate the photos without contacting him directly, or contact me and I will put you in touch, if you wish to reuse them.

Alen was now leading and had been re-seeded to be first on the road.


Kankunnen was next in the 205.


Here’s a series of John Buffum.

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The Alessandrini Brothers privately entered Delta S4.


Rod Millen’s Group A Mazda.  Notice the remote camera in the lower left of the shot.  I always wondered who those guys were and I would love to see the pictures they got.


One of the Light Performance Works Golf GTI’s.


The Toyota of the Japanese team of Kunimasa and Nori.






1986 Olympus Rally Revisited: The Drivers

Here is series of driver portraits taken by my good friend Denton Morris.   Again, thanks to Denton for graciously scanning his photos and allowing me to post them here. Denton is a professional photographer and you can see his recent work at his website  The photos below are Denton’s property and he holds all the rights to them, please contact him directly, or me and I will put you in touch, if you wish to reuse them.

Juha Kankunnen.  I think this was at a service in Raymond, WA.


John Buffum at the same service.



Markku Alen with Martin Holmes, the Lancia team helicopter and a FIAT X1/9 lurking in the background.




Coffee Break: In like a lamb, out like a lion

I had heard of John Buffum’s Biography, “In like a lamb, out like a lion, the story of John Buffum”, written by the late, great Tom Grimshaw, but for some reason I never bought it.  A friend recently recommended that I do, so I found a used copy on Amazon for sale by a Colorado Salvation Army store.  As an added bonus the copy was autographed by John Buffum.  So I ordered it and it arrived on Tuesday and I read it over the past two evenings.


What a great book.  It was neat to read about John’s experiences prior to my interest in US rallying in the early 80’s to fill in the gaps in my understanding of the history of American rallying.  It was also neat to go behind the scenes of what was happening when I was a big time follower of rallying from 82 to the early 90’s.  I had no idea of some of the stuff going on.

But the real neatest thing is the autograph on the inside front cover.


My name is also John.  How cool is that?  My only regret is that Tom Grimshaw is no longer alive so I could add his signature to the book.


1986 Olympus Rally Revisited: Capitol Forest Stages

Here is another series of pictures taken by my good friend Denton Morris.   Again, thanks to Denton for graciously scanning his photos and allowing me to post them here. Denton is a professional photographer and you can see his recent work at his website  The photos below are Denton’s property and he holds all the rights to them, please contact him directly, or me and I will put you in touch, if you wish to reuse them.

The second day of the rally was held in very typical, wet Northwest weather.  We didn’t leave Seattle for the Olympia area until late morning on the Friday, so we didn’t get to the stages until after lunch.  I have long since forgotten the name of this stage, but it had a good hairpin left for photographing the cars at.

Kankunnen was first through the stage in the 205 T-16.



Alen was next through with the Lancia Delta S4.


John Buffum in the Sport Quattro.



Rod Millen in the Group A Mazda 323 GTX.


The Alessandrini brothers in their privately entered Delta S4.  They brushed the bank and the red object behind the left rear wheel is a piece of their air dam.  One of the spectators on the hillside jumped down and picked it up as a souvenir.



Walter Boyce in the Light Performance Works prepared VW Golf GTI entered by Volkswagen of America.



This was the all Japanese team of Kunimasa and Hori in a Toyotal Corolla.



I can’t read the car number on this RX-7, but it may be the local team of Jolly / Sorenson.



Not sure about who (or what) is passing the Honda CRX of Ray Hocker.  Ray is now an official in the NASA Rallysport organization and also went to High School with my older brother.



The Toyota of local team Whiting / Damitio.  They usually run a Mazda RX-3.



Later on in the day things began to dry out.  I don’t remember the name of this stage either, but I do remember Alen nailed me in the back with a rock.

Kankunnen is first through the stage.


Markku Alen.


One of the TTE Celica Turbos.


John Buffum.






1986 Olympus Rally Revisited: Scrutineering

My good friend and fellow rally nut, Denton Morris  went with me and my older brother to the Olympus.   Denton is now a physicist at Fermi Labs and also a professional photographer.  He graciously scanned his photos and allowed me to post them here.  You can see his recent work at his website  The photos below are Denton’s property and he holds all the rights to them, please contact him directly, or me and I will put you in touch, if you wish to reuse them.

Scrutineering was held on a late Thursday afternoon in early December in Tacoma, WA at the Tacoma Dome.  We hung around in the parking lot and caught the cars as they arrived.

John Buffum / Neil Wilson in the short wheelbase Sport Quattro.


The late Jon Woodner in his Peugeot 205 T-16.  This was one of the 200 road going homologation cars that Jon had converted to rally specs in the UK as Peugeot Sport would not sell him an ex-works car.



Rod Millen got his Mazda 323 GTX ready in the parking lot.


The factory Peugeot of Juha Kankunnen was also sitting in the parking lot.  We couldn’t believe that we were actually seeing a real works car.


BTW that is me in the back in the red coat :-).


The cars were rolled into the Tacoma Dome via the service entrance.


This is a really cool shot that I’m glad Denton took of the floor of the Tacoma Dome while scrutineering was going on.  Note all the Toyota banners and the new for 1986 Toyotas outside of the scruitineering area.  Toyota was the sponsor of the rally, but since manufacturers are not allowed to sponsor rallies, there was some creative bending of the rules and looking the other way by the FIA.


Toyota Team Europe had 3 Group B Celicas entered.  Here is Bjorn Waldegaard’s #3.


TTE entered a car for Rod’s brother Steve Millen.  Steve drove Stadium trucks for Toyota.  Maybe this was a reward…


I haven’t been able to find the name of the crew, but apparently this was the last WRC event for the venerable Saab 96 after 30 years of service.  After 1986 it was no longer eligible.


The local crew of Whiting / Damitio’s Toyota undergoes inspection.  The car was sponsored by the local Olympia Toyota dealer.


Markku Alen’s Lancia Delta S4 undergoes inspection.


The Alessandrini brothers privately entered Delta S4 in the scruitineering area.


Guy Light’s Light Performance Works had prepared two Golf GTI’s entered for Volkwagen of America.  Walter Boyce was the driver of one, Guy was the driver of the other.






1986 Nor’wester Pro Rally

In 1986 the Olympus gained World Rally Championship status and would be held in early December.  The Rallyweek Northwest organizers decided not to do a Rallyweek Northwest in April, but instead just ran the Nor’wester SCCA National Pro Rally in May as a shakedown for the Olympus.  As usual, the rally was based in Tumwater, WA and used the familiar stages in the nearby Capitol Forest.  However, there were no city street stages as in rallies past.

For some reason, I didn’t take many pictures at the rally, and the ones I did were not my best work.  Don’t remember my excuse, maybe I was experimenting with new film or something…

Doug Shepherd was running his Dodge Shelby in GT class.


New Zealander Clive Smith was  running a Toyota in Group A.


Group A Audi entered by Carter/Kingsley.  They DNF’d later.


Dodge Shelby GLH of Landau/Landau running in the Production class.


Guy Light had switched from his Oldsmobile Omega to a Golf GTI that he was running in Group A


Another Dodge Omni GLH driven by the team of Crawford & Andreini.


The Wantanabe brothers in their Group A Toyota.


Shepherd and Reese at night.


Another Dodge running in the GT class.


The Gooches in their GT class Dodge.


Local crew of Grant Whiting and Ray Damitio in their Mazda RX-3.  They were sponsored by Walt’s Radiator of Olympia.  I always liked the color scheme of this car.


Local Gene McCullough in a Datsun 510.


John Buffum’s stepson Paul Choiniere was running an Audi 80 in Production.


Another Datsun. I can’t seem to find any information on the crew.


Jon Woodner had finally gotten his Peugeot 205 T-16.  The car started as a street 205 built for Group B homologation.   Jon had it modified in the UK since the French wouldn’t sell him an ex-works car.  Here it is at night service probably in Shelton, WA.  After being housed in a collection by Jon’s widow for many years, the car was sold and is now in England and has been fitted with an Evolution 2 body kit and is active on the historic Group B rally circuit.


John Buffum received the short wheelbase Sport Quattro that Michelle Mouton used on the 1985 Pikes Peak Hillclimb in order to compete with Rod Millen’s 4WD RX-7.  The Sport Quattro was fast and evidently hard to photograph at night…


1985 Nor’wester Rally

In 1985 the Olympus received “prototype” status from the FIA as a prelude to possible inclusion in the World Rally Championship for 1986 and moved its date to July.  The Rally Week Northwest organizers decided to keep the Rally Week event in April and promoted the SCCA Regional Wild West Rally to National Pro Rally to start the week and then ended the following weekend with the Nor’Wester.  I took these photos at the Nor’Wester.

Rod Millen was back with his 4WD RX-7.  Parc Ferme for the event was held across from Sylveter Park in downtown Olympia.


John Buffum was back with his A1 Quattro.  He would get an S1 Quattro Sport in July after Michele Mouton used it to set a record at Pikes Peak.


The Stromberg/Reese Saab 99 Turbo running Group A.


Crowd favorite Oldsmobile Omega of Guy Light.


Clive Smith’s Toyota Corolla.


Not sure who’s Toyota Starlet this was.  They were popular cars due to their RWD.


They ran a stage at the Thurston County ORV park that included part of the motocross track stadium.  Here is JB in the stadium.


Jon Woodner was switching from his RWD Peugeots to a 4WD 205T-16.  However, for the start of the 1985 season the car wasn’t ready, so he ran an ex-Millen 4WD RX-7 while he waited for the 205 to arrive from the UK (since the works team wouldn’t sell him one).  Here Jon takes a different line from Rod Millen and John Buffum.


Bruno Kriebich and his older Quattro.  I think this is the ex-Buffum car that Mouton also won the Port Wine Rally in Portugal in.  John Buffum now owns that car in his private collection and has restored it back to the way it was when Michelle ran it.


The cars then headed out into the Capital forest.  Here’s John Buffum in the Quattro.  Notice the hail on the ground.  I remember it pouring rain and hail while we waited for the cars on the stage.


In the evening, the cars descended down a hill behind the ORV part to return to a service at the ORV park.

Rod Millen.


John Buffum.


Stromberg’s Saab.


Kreibich/Bond Quattro


I think this was the Clive Smith Toyota.


Guy Light’s Olds Omega.


I think this was a Saab 99 Turbo.  No idea who…


A European Ford Escort Mk2.  It was entered by a local team.  I forget who they were.


A Toyota that was interesting to me 30 years ago.  I have no idea why now…


An Evening service was held in the ORV parking lot prior to the night stages.

Rod Millen’s Mazda is serviced.


John Buffum has a quick rest before the night stages.


Bruno’s service area in the foreground of the ORV parking lot service halt.


The final stage was held on the taxiways of the Olympia Airport.  The cars went out in groups and it was odd to see more than one car on the stage at once doing laps.  They used to  have an SCCA Regional road race at the airport in April and the rally would sometimes be a part of it.

This was a local crew of Grant Whiting and Ray Damitio in an RX-3.  RX-2’s and RX-3’s used to be popular regional rally cars.


Quattros!  John is about to pass Bruno.


John Buffum went on to win the event by 1 minute over Rod Millen, and this shots film didn’t age so well.  Probably wasn’t the best idea to use cheap film in hindsight.


Rallyweek Northwest 1984

Unfortunately I didn’t own a camera when I went to the Norwester and Olympus in 1984 as part of Rallyweek Northwest.  However, I did find on YouTube a copy of a professional video that was made of the event:

We were standing on the steps of the old Capitol building on Washington Street in Olympia at 19:51 in the video where Doug Shepherd hits the curb with his Dodge Shelby, knocks over a handicapped parking sign and bends his rear axle.

It’s pretty cool to see this video, I can’t believe it will be 30 years ago next month.

1983 Olympus Rally

I went to my first SCCA Pro Rally in the fall of 1982, the Tour de Forest based in Tumwater, WA.  I had been reading about the Audi Quattro rally cars in Europe and specifically remember an article about SCCA Pro Rally in Road and Track, and when I noticed that a Pro Rally was being held near where I lived.  My brother and I decided to check it out.  After learning not to stand on the outside of a corner after Rod Millen sprayed us with gravel, we were hooked.

In 1983, the local Pro Rally organizers in Washington decided to become serious about getting one of their rallies included on the World Rally Championship calendar.  One of the first things they did was move the dates of the Norwester Rally and Olympus Rally to be consecutive weekends in April, titling it Rallyweek Northwest.  My brother and I went to both rallies in 1983.  My brother took the following shots on the Olympus Rally 1983.

The late Jon Woodner was first through the stage in his Peugeot 504.  This car was an Ex-Safari rally Peugeot factory team car, that is now part of a collection in Greece.  Remember when French cars were still for sale in the U.S.?  I think the stage was near Aberdeen, WA.


Rod Millen was through next.  This year he was running a four wheel drive RX-7 he built in his Newport, CA shop to be able to compete with Buffum in the Quattro.


John B was next through the stage.  John had just switched to an A1 Quattro, from the Group 4 Quattro that he ran in 1982.  The car had just arrived from Germany, and John won the previous weekend’s Nor’wester Rally with it.   This time at Olympus, John had a U.K. co driver on board, Steve Fellows.  Steve was writing a book on rally navigation.  I bought it when it came out and still have it.  John went wide on an earlier stage, hit a hidden stump and rolled the Quattro.  They lost a bit of time, as there were no spectators to help them back on the road.


Gene Henderson was running what we called the “Grandfather of the Quattro”, an AMC Eagle SX/4.  It was an AMC hatchback, the Sprit to which AMC joined with a full time four wheel drive system based on the Ferguson Formula system.


Guy Light’s Oldsmobile Omega.  It was a favorite with its bellowing V-6 and automatic transmission.


JB on a night stage.  I seem to remember it being near Elma, WA.  Buffum had a bit of a hard time getting the long wheelbase Quattro around the nearly 180 degree junction.  You can see a sizeable dent in the door from his earlier roll.


Guy Light almost missed the junction.


Night service on Millen’s RX-7.  I don’t remember the location of the service area…


JB and the slightly dog eared Quattro.


Buffum and Bill Brooks.  Brooks was a local Olympia driver running a FWD Audi Coupe that year.  He later ran a Rabbit GTI sponsored by the local Olympia VW dealer.


Sunday morning the second to the last stage was run on some roads near the Olympia airport.



Prior to the last stage, the cars had a service and Parc Ferme at the South Sound Mall in Lacey, WA.


You can get a good look at Buffum’s battered Quattro.


The last stage was an autocross run in the parking lot of the South Sound Mall.  The cars were run in reverse order.


Millen, the winner of the rally, really hooned it, doing some great pre-Ken Block Gymkhana drifts and slides for the small crowd.


1985 Olympus Rally: Part 2

The next set of pics are from a stage in the Brooklyn area on HWY 101 between Montesano and Raymond.  I think it was the Raymond Ridge stage.  It was always a favorite as you could see the cars for quite a while.  For the ’85 Olympus they ran it in the reverse direction.

Mikkola in the S1 Quattro.



JB in the A1 Quattro.



Bruno Kreibich in his Group 4 Quattro.


Rod Millen in the RX-7.



The leading trio in another Raymond area stage.




Dodge (Mistubishi) Colts were popular rally cars in the lower classes of SCCA PRO-RALLY.


An RX-3.  I think it was sponsored by Walt’s Radiator in Olympia, WA and driven by Ray Damitio.  RX-2’s and RX-3’s were popular regional SCCA rally cars.  They made quite a noise in the forest.


A regular 2WD RX-7, probably running in a production class.


The next service halt was in Raymond in the evening.  An Opel Ascona rolls into downtown Raymond.  It was crewed by a local team.  We always wondered how they got it into the country as Opels hadn’t been sold in the US since the 70’s.


The S1 E2 Quattro gets service while Hannu talks to some interested specators.




Buffum’s Quattro is serviced while John looks on.  The guy with the red shirt and glasses is noted rally photographer Hugh Bishop.



Rod Millen’s car is serviced while Rod has another Gatorade.



Bruno’s Quattro.


Guy Light’s Oldsmobile Omega.  If I remember right it even ran an automatic transmission.


Parc Ferme in Raymond.  You can see the Toyota provided MR-2 course cars at the left of the shot.  Also note the Rover in the background.


The next stage after the halt was a paved stage in Raymond near a lumber mill.  It wasn’t quite dark yet, so my anemic flash didn’t do so badly.





The rally finish was at the State Capitol in Olympia.  John Buffum receives the second place trophy from rally organizer, the late John Nagel.


Hannu Mikkola and Arne Hertz receive the first place trophy from John Nagel.  I read a while back in Octane that the S1 in the Olympus caught fire and burned to the ground.  Here’s proof it didn’t.  I think they are confusing it with an event in 1982 where Hannu did have a Quattro burn to the ground.



Hannu with some Toyota exec.  I think he was head of Toyota Motorsport in the USA.