RIP Bjorn Waldegaard

I just read that the first WRC World Champion, Bjorn Waldegaard, passed away from cancer.

I was lucky enough to see him compete at the 1986 and 1987 Olympus Rally.


That is him putting on his jacket at scrutineering for the 1986 Olympus Rally.

I’ve heard there is a story about him, recce for the ’86 Olympus, loosing a recce car in a flooded river, public nudity and the Washington State Patrol.  Maybe someone can share the specifics?




1986 Olympus Rally Revisited: Finish ceremony

The rally finished in the Washington State Capitol Building parking lot in Olympia Washington on Sunday night.  This was the last WRC rally to feature the Group B cars.  The FIA banned them after the Corsica tragedy and 1987 would be run with Group A cars.

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.

The cars crossed the finishing ramp in reverse order.

Rod Millen won Group A in his Mazda 323 GTX.


John Buffum scored a fine 3rd place in his short wheelbase Quattro.  This was John’s highest finish in a World Championship rally as well as the highest finish for an American still to this day.  With this finish, John gained A seeding for the next year.



Kankunnen was second, which also earned him second in the Driver’s championship for 1986, at least for now…


By winning the rally, Markku Alen became the World Driving Champion for 1986…


The crowd control guys crack me up, if they should have been so lucky, there wasn’t much of a crowd to control.



A couple of weeks later the FIA met in Paris and threw out the results of the San Remo rally.  This caused Markku to lose his points for the controversial event where Peugeot was excluded and Markku and Lancia won.  As a result of the San Remo points begin discarded, Markku then lost the World Driver’s Championship to Juha Kankkunen.  Ironically, they would become team mates at Lancia in 1987.  Markku would never win the WDC.










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.




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.



1985 Olympus Rally: Part 1

Around 1982 or 1983 the organizers of the Olympus rally decided to work toward getting the rally included as a round in the World Rally Championship.  In 1983 and 1984 they moved the Norwester and Olympus to consecutive weekends in April as Rally Week Northwest.  In 1985 the Olympus Rally moved to the 4th of July weekend as an FIA observed WRC prototype event with the possibility of becoming a round of the WRC in a subsequent year.  That year the Olympus ran to WRC rules, however SCCA open class cars were also allowed to compete.

The works Audi team, Audi Sport sent a brand new Quattro S1 to make its competition debut with Hannu Mikkola and Arne Hertz.  No doubt shaking it down prior to its WRC debut on Rally Argentina.  Plus Audi and Mikkola/Hertz could gain some early knowledge of the event prior to inclusion on the calendar and already have some pace notes that have been run at speed.

The first stage of the Olympus had traditionally been held in downtown Olympia for the past two years.

Mikkola/Hertz in the spectacular S1 Quattro.


John Buffum was next in his A1 Quattro.


Bruno Kreibich in his ex-Buffum Group 4 Quattro.  I think this is the one that Mouton won the ’82 Port Wine Rally in.


Kiwi Alan Carter in a Saab.


Rod Millen in his AWD RX-7, built in his Newport, CA shop.


These next few shots of the leading trio of Mikkola, Buffum and Millen are from the Taylor Town stage just outside of Shelton, WA.




Jon Woodner was at the Olympus with a new Peugeot 505 to replace his aged 504.  Here he is on the Taylor Town stage.


Another RX-7 on the long straight on Taylor Town.


I forget the specifics of this stage.  It’s a typical Capitol Forest stage though.





Another Capitol Forest stage.  Check out the Jeepster in the background.  The Jeep club was working crowd control and radio at this stage.




Rod Millen rolled his Rx-7.  You can see the surround around the rear oil cooler is missing.


As you can tell, summer rallies in the PNW are dusty…


The first service halt was in Elma, WA.


Hannu Mikkola.


John Buffum.


The S1 E2 getting service from the works Audi team.




John Buffum’s long time mechanic “Salty” Sottolano at work on the Quattro.


Bruno Kreibich’s Quattro.


You can see the extent of the damage on Rod Millen’s RX-7 after his roll.


Rod needed a drink after that.


Jon Woodner did a better job at rolling his Peugeot, but was able to make it to service.


1986 Olympus Rally Part 4: Brooklyn Stages

Saturday was composed of classic Olympus Rally stages in the Brooklyn area of Grays Harbor County between Cosmopolis and Raymond.  The weather was dryer than Friday’s wet stages, with a bit of fog early and then a little sun to end the day.

Kankunnen and Alen were still locked in their own battle for the driver’s title.  Kankunnen had a technical problem with the 205 and Alen was now leading.


This is one of my favorite shots.  I had it enlarged and it still hangs in my garage to this day.


JB powering the Quattro over a crest.


Waldegaard in the Toyota.  I climbed onto a stump to get this.


The Allesandrini’s head off into the gloom.


A service stop was held in Raymond.  I got a few good shots of the leading drivers.

John Buffum.


Juha Kankunnen.


Mr. Maximum Attack:  Markku Alen


Allen’s Delta S4.  Notice that the teams were using rental trucks for support vehicles.  After the rally, we used to see rental trucks around the area with their factory Lancia or Peugeot stickers on the side.


JB’s Sport Quattro.


This stage is my favorite Olympus stage.  We always used to go to this one.  You can stand on a bank and watch the cars come down a hill into a dip and then a slight crest, then they turn in front of you and head down another hill before they go out of sight.  On this stage we were standing next to the Duke Video crew from the UK.  I should buy the DVD someday…






There was a washed out area of the road due to some flooding in the area prior to the rally.  We were able to get some good close shots as the cars slowed to go by.  The road was little wider than the cars and the ravine/wash out went down about 20 or 30 feet..




The sun actually came out for this last stage we went to.



JB’s co driver must have mis-read a note..



The future of Group A rallying, a few years early…