It has been 30 years since Rally Group B was formed. Those who follow the all-terrain race series consider Group B to be the ultimate moment for the sport. Those who don’t follow rally car racing should just know the Group B was like rally’s Woodstock — a short period that will forever be a legend.
This was a time when cars were so small and powerful that the slightest bump sent them airborne. Ultra low homologation standards meant manufacturers could create purpose-built cars to race Group B and only needed to send a handful to the streets. Lawlessness was so ramped that even spectators and photographers would be standing in the middle of a path just as it would be cut by a screaming Audi quattro S1 or Lancia 037.
This out of control speed created tremendous excitement around the sport, but there plenty were also plenty of fatalities to drivers and bystanders. The only way to regain control was to eliminate the group completely in 1986.
Now all of this is back…sorta.
Over the weekend, the BBC aired a documentary called “Madness on Wheels: Rallying’s Craziest Years”. While it is not available in the U.S. (at least by legal means,) it was created by the same team that put together the high-quality documentary “Grand Prix: The Killer Years”. Since that aired on the Velocity Channel (formerly HD Theater) we are willing to bet they’ll try to import this one, too. Just like the Grand Prix doc, the Group B retrospective is being praised for bringing the full gravity of the excitement and tragedy of the race series to television.
A good documentary will easily have us make room on the DVR, but what is really exciting are the Group B cars gathering again for a little competitive fun.
This August there will be a reunion of Group B rally cars that will be allowed to run on special circuits created across the U.K. So all those who put down some decent money on eBay just to have a little piece of Group B history now have a reason to take out their toys.
The event will run from August 25-26, so those in England for the Summer Olympics may want to stay a few extra weeks to see the champions of rally racing. The weekend-long event is not only open to Group B cars, but also cars from a few later race classes such as Group A.
Attending this event will not be like anything it was 30 years ago. There will be a lot more rules and barriers to protect the spectators. Then again, do you really want to be only inches away from someone with delusions of being Colin McRae whose only barrier to entry was a winning eBay bid and paying an entrance fee?