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Dear Friends,

It is sad to write you again, but our old friend and rally driver Bob Hourihan passed away on Christmas day at the age of 60.

Bob had his small intestine rupture, and initially thought it was only a stomach ache, but by the time they hospitalized him it was too late for an operation. There was no funeral and he has been cremated. There are no arrangements or charity donations requested.

Needless to say it is sad, and at such a young age; Bob only a year older than I am and younger than many of you whom I am sending this note to... for those of you old enough to remember, Bob was one of the early organizers, promoters, and proponents of selective/stage rallies in the USA. Bob, among other groups, was active in Detroit SCCA as well as the Ralligators. He was a solid supporter in the Olden Days for getting selective & stage rallies going in North America and at times things moved slower than hoped. Therefore Bob was also part of the group of malcontents and was part of the effort when some of us event organizers broke ranks and formed the North American Rally Association (NARA), which evolved into the North American Rally Racing Association (NARRA)and subsequently after some disagreements with the promotor, back into the fold of SCCA when the ProRally movement got more inertia. Bob was a shy person, but never when it came to expressing his opinions either vocally or in print. He published the Ralligators newletter for some time, and they were a classic blend of facts and wit before he passed that job to someone else, maybe Gene Henderson if my memory serves me...

Some of you may remember me co-driving for him during my late college years, and our running his Saab, Escort and Datsun among others on POR, Moonlight Monte, several Canadian events, Quebec regionals & nationals, MONY series rallies, Canadian Winter Rally, Ohio winter and summer events, countless Michigan rallies, and elsewhere. Bob and I were active in the early MONY series events, with him driving everything from K-cars to Saab96's to BDA Escorts, Datsuns, Volvos, Zazada's 911, and others. His Michigan license plate of "FYJIMO" proudly displayed on many of the cars, and his independent style always present; His association with Mother's Motors made lots of memories for many. Although "Big Bob" was quiet, he was always a "presence" at the rallies he entered. During the years we ran together, I most remember all the laughs. To people he knew, Bob had a wonderful sense of humor, but he liked to keep to himself and to those he knew well; many times after a rally my sides would hurt from laughing so hard... even on a selective or stage, at least in the early days, we was cracking jokes and making comments about the "route de jour" with his wit always sharp and honed like a knife edge. Getting him to attend the post-rally parties and galas was always a tough challenge since mostly he didn't like the social aspect of the post event festivities; even when he organized the POR! Talk about short speeches and terse results! I think this changed later so maybe Doug Woods can comment about the Finland expeditions or otherwise...

Anyway, Bob was a frequent competitor in North America and ran a few championship events in Europe (Finland etc)as well as Mexico before his "retirement" from the sport. He ran with many other navigators, Doug Shephard, Iain Tugwell, Doug Woods, and a host of others who were a lot better than I was. We kept in touch for years, but as many of you know when Bob "Moved South" he became a bit of a recluse and did not keep in touch with many folks; Bob is survived by his wife Mary, several pets, and a nice home at the top of a mountain with a long gravel approach road. That lifestyle remained his, along with some collecting of things (non-rally) which interested him in his years after motor sport.

Even though for much of his life rally sport was very important, "when it was over, it was over" and he really didn't even keep track of the sport at all once he quit it or even communicate with many of his old rally friends.

One quote I remember was when the Canadian event at Smith's Falls (Rideau Lakes)was part of the championship; Iain, Bob and I were event Stewards at the time. We were standing watching a stage somewhere in northern Ontario and the Factory Fiats, Fords, Datsun/Nissan, (maybe Polski Fiats), and Lancia's came screaming past. Bob looked at us and predicted "...This Is As Big As It Will Ever Get In North America...". Others scoffed and said, "no way, North America will have lots of big rallies". Well, they were wrong and Bob was right. One by one they fell, Rideau Lakes, POR, Olympus, and then nothing except some wimpering attempts in the last couple of years. Likewise never the factory attendance as was back in that era. Sadly his prediction is still that way today. So Bob indeed did see the future correctly. Certainly so far.

Perhaps some of you can email some notes, old pictures, and anything else of merit and I will make sure they are prepared and organized and sent to his wife Mary if there is enough to warrant it. I am sure she would appreciate a little information on the part of his life before they married.

Certainly 2005 has been a bad year with so many of the old rally competitors passing, and with each a little of the heritage of rally sport in North America. I certainly hope that we are able to "save" some of this history somewhere and build upon the sparse "written word" of the sport. Short of the few books (one by Tom Grimshaw (RIP), another by Eric Anderson, and a couple of other less comprehensive articles), precious little has been preserved of our past.

Our wishes are with Bob's surviving family, and the rest of you take care of yourselves. Let us make it through 2006 without a single passing of another one of us "old timers"...

Please pass this along to any of the old crowd who you think I might have missed. Thanks.

Best Regards,
Walt Kammer
 

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As Walt has menitoned, Bob Hourihan was a frequent competitor in Canadian events in the late 60s and early 70s. He started at least two Shell 4000s in addition to several Canadian Winter Rallies and some other Canadian championship events. In fact, during this period, he seemed to be involved in just about all major rallies in the central U.S. and Canada as a competitor or organizer. As indicated, he was a leader in the development of stage rallying in North America.

As both a worker and competitor at the time, for those of us who really didn't know him, he certainly came across as a no nonsense guy. On the other hand, I do remember seeing him engaged in an almost falling over episode of laughter after one event.

In the talk at our garage or at our local rally club meetings, Hourihan as a competitor was discussed in the same sentences as the other top Detroit competitors of the time - Scott Harvey, Gene Henderson, etc..

Jim Stevens
 
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