Night stage

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…



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.



1986 Olympus Rally Part 5: End of an era

This final leg of the rally marked the end of the Group B era in the World Rally Championship.  At the end of the last stage, the Group B cars were banned from competition by the FIA.  Group A would be the future in 1987.  I read a quote from Juha Kankkunen:  “The WRC is for boys, Group B was for men.”  I’d have to agree, comparing the Group B’s with the Group A’s we’d see next year on the Olympus, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The stages were held near Elma, WA for the final leg.

Markku had a manageable lead over Juha.



Juha had a sizeable lead over John Buffum, something like 30 minutes.


The two Toyotas of Waldegaard and Torph were still in the rally, Bjorn’s younger team mate, Lars-Eric Torph was leading him.  Steve Millen had crashed out somewhere in the Capitol Forest on Friday.


The Alessandrini brothers were still going.


This was probably the most “crowded” stage of the rally as far as spectators.  Compare this with the RAC rally photos from 1986…


You can see JB has had a brush with the scenery and the left rear fender has been taped up.


The final stage of the Group B era was a night stage.  After this it was all over.  Too bad they couldn’t have found a way to dial them back just a bit rather than go Group A.  I think rally lost a lot of its excitement when Group B went into the history books.




This is my brother’s friend, Ray Hocker in a Group N Honda CRX.


The finish was held at the State Capitol in Olympia.

John Buffum celebrates histhird place.  His best finish in a World Championship Rally and I think the best finish by an American still to this day.


Markku takes the win over Kankkunen.  The margin of victory was 3 minutes 26 seconds, with John Buffum a further 24 minutes behind.  With the win Markku was the 1986 World Driving Champion.  At least until the FIA overturned the results of the 1986 San Remo Rally 11 days later and Kankkunen was then awarded the Championship.  Markku would never win the Championship and ironically, Alen and Kankkunen would be team mates at Lancia the next year.





1986 Olympus Rally Part 2: Special Stage 1

After the start at the Tacoma Dome, the competitors headed out to special stage 1:  Salishan.  It was a night time, tarmac stage held on some abandoned roads in the Salishan area of Tacoma.  To us it was a revelation.   We could not believe the speed of the Peugeot and Lancia at the hands of real WRC drivers.  We had been going to national SCCA Pro Rallies since the early 80’s, but the level of car and driver was on another plane.  These were taken with my Olympus OM-2s with a crappy flash.  Don’t worry, the daytime photos get better from here…

Kankunnen in the 205.


Alen in the Delta S4.  I remember it had a really cool sound due to the turbo AND supercharger it ran.  In all of the video footage of it I’ve watched, its never been able to really capture the unique sound of the dual stage induction.


The Group B Celica of Waldegaard.


JB and his Sport Quattro.  The 5 cylinder Audi has to be my favorite sounding rally car.


Jon Woodner in his customer 205T-16.  It was one of the road cars built to homologate for Group B.  He had it converted to rally spec in the UK as the factory would not sell him an ex-works car.  It was the only time we’d see the car in the rally.  He retired on the next stage when he crashed hard.  I’ve read stories from local drivers that came up on the crash site and thought it was two cars involved in the off.


Millen and his Group A Mazda 323 GTX.


The Alessandrinini brothers and their customer Delta S4.


I forget who this was, I took it because it was a FIAT that we never saw in the states, FIAT having abandoned the US in 1981.