On Saturday 1 December 2018, the Historic Rally Club of NSW & ACT hosted the “1968 London to Sydney Marathon 50th Anniversary Re-Union”.
Many of the Australian participants of that extremely challenging, ground breaking and historic event came from near and far to reunite and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon with drivers, navigators, support crews, photographers, media and fans.
Two rally buffs and media personalities – John Smailes and Will Hagon alternatively interviewed the plethora of famous Marathon Rally participants that came on the day. John and Will drew on their own experience of these events and expertly encouraged some 1968 Marathoners, such as Gerry Lister, Barry Ferguson, John Bryson, Bruce Hodgson, Dave Johnson, and Ian Vaughan, to share their very entertaining memories and stories. The Ford Competition Manager for the 1968 Marathon, John Gowland, gave an interesting and inspiring interview about how he convinced Ford to fund a three car assault on the 1968 Marathon.
There was a great display of photos and videos from the various events to look at. The crowd enjoyed a pre-recorded interview by John Smailes with Andrew Cowan in Scotland.
The event also recognised the thirteen transcontinental long distance events that followed the original London to Sydney Marathon, including the 1970, 1974 and 1995 World Cup Rallies, the 1977, 1993, 2000, 2004 & 2014 London to Sydney (and Reverse) Marathons and the 1997, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 Peking to Paris rallies. Many of the participants of these great rallies were in attendance, and some were also interviewed which gave a fascinating insight into these events.
Five Marathon cars were on display and could be viewed from the venue. This display included the famous KAG 002, a Ford Falcon GT, kindly loaned by the Ford museum. It was prepared by Harry Firth and driven by Ian Vaughan, Bob Forsyth and John Ellis in the 1968 Marathon. The Gerry Lister 144 Volvo was also on display. This car was prepared and driven by Gerry for the 1968 London Sydney Marathon and he still owns the car to this day.
Dave Johnson, the President of the Historic Rally Club of NSW & ACT, did a remarkable job of pulling the event together. The Re-union highlighted the rich history that Australian cars, drivers, co-drivers and support crews have in long distance and marathon events throughout the world.