Three of New Zealand’s “veteran” rally drivers are set along with over 75 others to honour the memory of the late Malcolm Stewart by competing in this weekend’s Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa, & its associated Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally.

Palmerston North’s Brian Green, Timaru’s Carl Rabbidge and local driver Masterton’s Roger Brader, all began competing in the very early days of rallying in New Zealand. Green will compete this weekend in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10, Rabbidge will be in his Classic Ford Escort RS2000 and Brader in his Classic Mazda RX3.

Green has racked up many many rallying miles in this his 40th year of competition, including a total worldwide experience, with events in Europe, Asia and the Pacific as well as the local Vantage National Rally Championship here in New Zealand.

Green says he’s “not about to give up any time soon” and still has the two longest events on the local calendar to come later this year, the Dunlop Targa (North Island) in the Evo 10, and the Silver Fern Marathon Rally (South Island) in a brand new Neil Allport built MKI Ford Escort RS1600.

When rallying was first introduced to New Zealand from Europe in the late 1960’s, Green got involved, and in 1970 he competed in that years Silver Fern Rally finishing 10th in a Ford Escort, with one Robbie Lester co-driving. Then for the Palmerston North based 1972 Silver Fern, Green was the event’s route plotter & Clerk of Course.

Green went on to rally a Holden Torana, a series of Ford Escort’s, and spent a few years sharing drives with Malcolm Stewart in Stewart’s ex Hannu Mikkola Audi Quattro A2, which will be on display at this years Rally Wairarapa. Green also owns and occasionally competes in an extremely high tech Ford Escort World Rally car.

Rabbidge who has only returned to rallying again this year, after many years in the sports administration (he is currently the Silver Fern organiser, and on the national Rally Commission) started his rallying back in 1970 driving a modified Ford Anglia Van, which he promptly rolled off Banks Peninsular, and has been around the scene driving and co-driving, as well as mentoring young drivers for all of the last 4 decades.

Rabbidge was the National Group 1 Champion in 1976 driving a Mazda RX3, but has spent most of his time in Datsun’s and Ford Escort’s, including competing in New Zealand’s biggest ever event, the 1973 Heatway Rally, an event which covered stages in both the North and South Island’s, during it’s seven days of competition.

Carl says “I had watched all these middle aged (and older) drivers still competing in and enjoying the Otago Classic Rally, and the NZ Silver Fern Rally, and thought well why not, if they can still enjoy it why should I stop just because I’m getting older, so I decided to resurrect the old car (his original 1980 Ford Escort) and have a go again”.

Roger Brader started competing in 1969 in a MG Midget, and was then a regular rally competitor in a Ford Escort Twin Cam, winning the 1976 Hawkes Bay Rally and always supported the early Wairarapa Car Club’s Ngaumu Forest Rallies. Now-a-days he drives the ex Howard Collier Mazda RX3 which he has owned for 24 years. Brader said “we tipped the car over 2 years ago and this will be its first time back on gravel, but we have competed in some classic races at Manfield and the Taupo Classic Rally.”

This weekend’s results and updates can be found at:- www.rallywairarapa.co.nz

Brian Green’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 (photo Paul Smith)
Carl Rabbidge’s Classic Ford Escort RS 2000 (photo Paul Smith)

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