Madness on Wheels: Group B Rallying’s Craziest Years

The 1980s wasn't all Thatcher and synthesizers, with rallying enjoying huge popularity throughout the decade that hasn't been matched since.
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The 1980s wasn't all Thatcher and synthesizers, with rallying enjoying huge popularity throughout the decade that hasn't been matched since.

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In the early 1980’s rallying became more popular than Grand Prix. Over a million people were piling into the woods to watch the Lombard RAC rally with the British Grand Prix just attracting four.

They were all hoping to see the new Group B cars that had taken rallying by storm.

These crazy vehicles were as fast as Formula 1 cars and they were thrashing through trees at 150 miles per hour.

This was no sport. This was insanity. Insanity on wheels.

I got caught up in the hysteria, heading into a forest  in Cheshire. A man from Sweden running over anything in his path in an English wood. I saw in front of my own eyes, a car turn a TV camerman’s gear into scrambled egg, as it ran over his gear and pulverised it to mush, the cameraman leaping out the way.

Unhappy with usual 150 horse power of a rally car [three times the power of your current runaround] these mad people were now driving spaceships with close to 600 horse power. In our woods.

This was no sport. This was insanity. Insanity on wheels.

The drivers were mad, the cars even madder. It was a totally bonkers period.

Big names like Audi. Peugeot, Lancia and, err, the Mini Metro all scrapped to produce ever faster and uglier cars.

With plans to make cars with one thousand horse power, to drive at 170 miles per hour inches from our trees, things were heading out of control.

This period of motorsport inspired me and millions of others to think long and hard about thrashing a car flat out four inches from trees, 4 inches from anything, anywhere in fact. The roads were full of nutters thinking they were Stig Blomqvist.

Of course, as is always the case when young men are allowed to go mad, it went horribly wrong.

www.madnessonwheels.com

So I made a film about the most crazy men and women in the most craziest cars ever to hit the motorsport scene. Forget Formula 1 – this was way more exciting  Group B – Madness On Wheels

Check it out. Bonkers. How could it continue?

J L Matthews [producer of ‘Grand Prix the Killer Years’ and ‘Deadliest Crash’

Madness on Wheels is available on DVD with exclusive extras from April 1st – presales are being taken now via www.madnessonwheels.com

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