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Motorsport: Monte Carlo Rally 1967 Part Two

To read the first article, click on Monte Carlo Rally 1967 Part One

For transportation in and around Monte Carlo, we used a local taxi.  We had wanted to hire a taxi from the start and the manager of the Hotel Forum phoned down to Monaco for one to come up.  Upon arrival we were dismayed to find that the driver was quite an old man, together with an ancient taxi.  We explained the expected rigours of the job to be done and asked him if he could recommend a younger man.  He said he would send someone.

Half an hour later, a taxi, a new Ford Taunus, arrived with a driver in his early twenties.  He was Jacques Santina and we told him that we would need him all day.  He was rather pleased.

In the event, we would have him on hire for hours every day of the rally.

Although television at that time was broadcast in black and white, we shot in colour.

Pierre and Denise Deus

Pierre and Denise Deus

We got some remarkable shots from both cameramen.  Pierre Deus, being the local stringer was shooting for UPIN news service.  On one occasion, with his wife Denise at the wheel of their 2CV (with the roof open), Badin and Deus stood side by side shooting the Rally cars on route to Nice.  They looked like a couple of pilots from “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines”.There was the matter of our expenses, hotels and food.  Under a UPI regime, we were allocated a “per diem” allowance which, at that time, was $26 per day.  In that part of France and Monaco, the situation was that the hotel accommodation was very cheap, but eating was quite expensive  There was little or nothing left of the money by the end of each day, however we did not have to supply receipts for our living expenses.

Both Paul Badin and Jacques Hubinet were familiar with the eating places in and around Monte Carlo, so we all followed them.

After all the crew had arrived, Deus invited us to his apartment for an informal lunch.

We met his wife, Denise, and the children.  His wife was much younger than him and a very nice lady.  She served us with bottled Tuna and anchovies which had been caught by Deus during the previous season and preserved by her.  There was plenty of bread.  At this meeting, it was decided to construct the letter to the organisers to obtain car passes.  The Frenchmen began to decide on the wording, but they could not agree.  Finally, they turned to me and asked me to write the letter.  They knew that, although I was not very good at speaking French, they also knew that I had studied the grammar for five years and that I should not get it wrong. I did think they were joking.  I agreed to write the letter and we got our passes.

The tuna and anchovy were excellent and I have never tasted the like again.

As for restaurants, we started off at the Cesar in Monte Carlo.  Even I had heard of this famous restaurant and I did not know what to expect. I suppose I imagined that it would be plush and very expensive looking.  It was nothing of the sort.   It was set out in the shape of an “L” with tables occupying both the upright and the foot of the “L” which at the toe, there was a delicatessen bar that was full of goodies.  There was tuna mayonnaise, egg mayonnaise, wonderful cold meats and salamis and all sorts of specialist salads.  At the left-hand end of the display cabinet there were plates for the customers to pick up and gather what they wanted from the display.

It was all rather wonderful.  I followed this “starter” with an entrecote steak and chips.  It was quite a meal.  Of course it was washed down with ample quantities of red wine chosen by the French crew.

During an off moment, of which there were few, we went into the Casino, just to see what all the fuss was about.

I am sure there were other rooms for the well-to-do, but the downstairs roulette room was a bit threadbare and in need of decoration.

We stood by the tables and watched.  Incredibly, there were people sitting there with note books recording the result of every turn of the wheel.  Why ? There cannot be any bearing of one result upon the next or any following spin of the wheel.  They all looked a bit odd anyway.

The gardens behind the casino

Casino Monte Carlo - Image via Wikipedia

We decided to have a bet and I eked out a total of twenty eight Francs betting on the black.  I lost every time and never bet on the wheel again (or on anything else if it comes to it).

I was still miffed at the loss of thirty-two shillings at Haringey Dogs fifteen years before and that was the last time I bet on a dog.

The Forum Hotel was small.  Our crew of five almost filled it.  The rooms were small and the floors were terrazzo with the occasional mat.  My room cost 11 Francs per day when the exchange rate was 13 Francs to the Pound.

The owner and his wife kept us going through the night with coffee.  The requirements of the Rally made it necessary for us to come and go all night depending on the passing of the cars and their distance from Monte Carlo.  The morning coffee was always accompanied by a croissant.  I could drink coffee in those days, but it was always very strong and served in a large bowl.  The aroma permeated the whole hotel.

After a couple of days, Jacques Hubinet decided that he and M. Corsi would move to the Balmoral Hotel.  Perhaps he had a deal there, it would certainly have been luxurious.

When we got the details of where the Datsun team would be servicing their cars during the night, I asked Hubinet if he knew where to hire film lights for the purpose of our filming.  He said he would find out.  However, our Patron had been listening and he invited us to follow him out of the hotel to his garage.  When he opening the door, he revealed a vast array of lamps all designed for filming and lighting displays.  It was his “other job”.  Of course we engaged him then and for some years afterwards.

Nissan had entered three cars into the Rally, there were two Bluebirds and a Fairlady, Two Datsun 1600s and one Datsun 1200. They were numbered 167, driven by Raimo Halm and Sakari Olamo, from Finland, 186, driven by Risto Virtapuro and Urpe Vihervaara, also from Finland and 191, driven by South Africans, Ewald van Bergen and Michael Hooper.

The cars could only be described, at that time, as quaint.  They were of a design that had been superseded by other manufacturers some years earlier.  They looked like something out of the fifties.  However, there was little wrong with their performance.

What they were really up against in the rally overall was the Mini Coopers who were making themselves prominent in the rally world.

The Rally is run in three stages.  First, cars drive from all over Europe covering a distance of 2,500 kilometres to arrive in Monte Carlo after a maximum of forty-eight hours. The second run is into the centre of France via Val les Bains and Uriage, a distance of 236 kilometres. where they make a wide circuit first going west then north then east and finally south.  During this run, there are time trials through “special stages” and each car is timed through them.  The amalgam of their time trials becomes their overall time and the quickest overall is the leader.  The only way they can lose time is if they are late between stages for which they suffer a penalty.  Third there is the dash into the mountains above Monte Carlo and Menton.  By now, many of the original starters, of which a large number were amateur, had decided to quit knowing the arduous nature of the third circuit and, in any case, the organisers limit the entry into this stage to the best 60 cars..  This circuit would take the cars through the Col de Turini which is a narrow mountain road which, at that time of year, is usually covered in ice with its high wall covered in snow , a distance of 153 kilometres.  Then down to the finish.  The following day, the survivors would parade in a Concorde d’Elegance.

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo

We filmed the departure of the cars from Monaco and followed them to Nice and the mountains beyond. Badin and I were in the taxi with Jacques Santina.  Once we had gone up into the mountains, in the early morning, we came across icy roads winding through the mountains with some big drops down into the valleys.  Jacques said that he was used to driving on such roads and said that if you can keep one front wheel, and the back wheel behind it, in line on dry ground, there is no trouble.  Jacques proved himself that day and he would be our driver for the whole of the 1968 rally and for several years after.

After the cars had gone from sight, we turned back and met the other crew members.   Hubinet suggested that we would have lunch in the Cave Nicoise.  This large restaurant was something like a British Restaurant with long tables where the local working populace would come at lunch time for a meal.

Being a rather cold day, we ordered, as a starter, Soupe a l’Oignon.  It was the first time I had tasted it and I thought it was great, I have taken Soupe a l’Oignon whenever it had been on offer ever since.

At this point, due to lack of funds, we were obliged to send Badin back to Paris, leaving me with Jacques Hubinet to finish off.

On the final circuit, one of the Nissan cars, the cars themselves were called Datsuns then, caught fire under the hood.  The fire was put out and rough re-connections of the wiring enabled them to continue to the finish.  The team manager who arrived to see the problem stopped us from filming it, I argued that it should be for the company in Tokyo to decide whether to use it or not.  However, he was adamant.

Up in the Col de Turini, Hubinet’s car broke down.  He transferred all his equipment into the cars of two fellow cameramen from Marseilles who were working for the French newsreels.  He managed to film everything he wanted.

Paul Badin at the Palace

Paul Badin at the Palace

On the Saturday morning, we went up to the Palace high on the rock overlooking Monte Carlo.  There, the cars paraded themselves, all washed and polished, including our burnt car, which we filmed again just to show that, in spite of the fire, the car could quickly be made to run again.  The parade was witnessed by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.When it was all over, we all went home, hoping to meet up again in Nairobi.

I sent the film to Tokyo with my daily diary, copious notes and instructions.  There, they would engage the best editors in the Japanese film industry to do the post production.  Ken Watanabe said that the quality of the production by us would decide if Nissan wanted us to do the Safari Rally during the coming Easter period.  Watanabe was particular in asking that I should go to Kenya to supervise.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2011.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Colin Gallacher #

    The variety of hurdles and how Terry dealt with them would make most people cringe in horror. An exciting account of just one of many projects that Terry took in his stride. Sorely missed

    March 9, 2021

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