Q: First off you’ve been involved in rallying for a lot of years, and in a lot of different and very varied roles, but you started as a competitor first and foremost, can we start by asking what was your first rally and what were you driving?
A: My first rally was way back in 1973 driving a Mini Cooper S in the NSW Clubman Series. In those days the entry list was over subscribed at 120 cars so I had to wait until the second Round in Orange to start my adventure in the sport.
Q: From there you were a NSW State Championship regular for almost a decade during the 70’s and early 80’s, what were the highlights?
A: In the 70’s and 80’s, Group G as it was known, was an interesting era when Datsun 1600’s ruled, there were many good events and great drivers.
I drove a range of Nissan’s during this time, which culminated by being given one of three ex-factory Nissan Stanza’s by Howard Marsden.
Highlights were contesting the Southern Cross International Rally held over four days against many National and International drivers in the Port Macquarie & Coffs Harbour region, and the Castrol International Rallies in the ACT.
Q: And that seems to have led to a number of opportunities throughout the Asia-Pacific region, can you tell us about how those breaks came about and what were you driving?
A: Over the years I was fortunate enough to have met many International teams and drivers and from some of those meetings came the opportunity to compete in Japan, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand’s Round of the WRC.
At this time I had great support from my local Toyota Dealer in Brian Hilton (Senior) for whom I drove for in the Australian Championship in a Toyota Levin AE86 with my co-driver Ray Temple.
In Japan I contested the Kensai Rally following a chance meeting with the JAF President who was also a co-driver in the Southern Cross Rallies.
I was invited by Japanese driver Tatsu Nakamura to drive a Toyota Levin, whom we had helped to contest the 2GO International Rally at that time, as the Kansai Rally was not an International Rally, I was given special dispensation to compete by the JAF president whom I had meet some years before. Using a Japanese co-driver with no English and only hand signals made for some exciting moments, but one that was incredibly enjoyable.
Papua New Guinea Independence Day Rally was a last minute call up for myself and Ray to drive a twin cam Toyota Corolla for a local Toyota dealer when ARC regular Clive Slater could not drive due to work commitments. The rally would start at 3.00pm each afternoon and finish at dawn over three long and hot days. Ross Dunkerton and Murray Coote also contested the event which made for some great entertainment.
My first Rally New Zealand came about following some good results at ARC level. I was asked if I would like to contest the event by car owner Don McDonald,
we had a great first WRC outing winning our class and finishing 14th again in a Toyota Levin, a result we duplicated at the first Rally Australia in Fremantle later that same year.
Q: You then returned to the Australian Rally Championship in 1990 at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Galant VR4, what are you memories of competing at that time?
A: In 1989 I made the decision to change from 2WD to 4WD and to contest Rally New Zealand and Rally Australia with new co-driver Harry Manson. The 1990 Australian Rally Championship was dominated by Group N Galant VR4’s, and Doug Stewart and Ralliart were fantastic in the support of all Mitsubishi drivers which gave many competitors the chance to battle it out for Group N Championship honors and a springboard into the WRC. Ed Ordynski and Mark Nelson were the team to beat, which did not happen very often, but that never stopped us from trying!
Q: And during the early 90’s you were still taking opportunities internationally, you competed in Malaysia for two years right?
A: 1991 Rally Australia, Ray Temple and I teamed up again with the support from Shell Australia to finish 3rd Group N, following the event I received a call from the Mitsubishi–Shell team management in Malaysia who required a Group N driver for their Championship. I joined Ross Dunkerton and Japanese driver Endo in the Mitsubishi team to fight it out against the Proton’s of Greg Carr and Karamjit Singh and the Toyota team in the Malaysian Championship and Malaysian Asia Pacific manufactures events.
Q: Then you returned to the NSW Championship in 1993, after the drives overseas this would appear to be a back step?
A: In my junior days I had won Group and Clubman Championships and finished twice runner up in the Australian Championship to Wayne Bell (Group A) and Ed Ordynski (Group N) but had not won a State Title.
After missing the opening Round I returned from Malaysia to win my home rally with Chris Randell that set the path to continue the pursuit of the Championship against Michael Guest. Luck has it, we won the Championship and Michael and myself became teammates later under the Winfield banner at Rally Australia.
In the second part of this story with Ron Cremen we talk about his year’s competing in the Middle East and his change from driver to manager.
*Historic images courtesy of Dallas Dogger