This week, rally fans are closely following the 64th edition of the Tulpenrallye which concludes on Saturday 13 May. But for one man in particular, the event – held in the Netherlands – will be a markedly nostalgic occasion.
Thirty-nine years ago, Russell Brookes and co-driver Peter Bryant negotiated their way around the 800-mile track to score an outright victory in an Andrews Heat for Hire sponsored Ford Escort RS 1800.
The ‘Gulf Tulip Rally’ was aptly named because the annual winner was presented with a trio of silver tulips, as opposed to a more conventional trophy.
Only, this was not the case for Russell. For some unaccountable reason, the traditional prize was not available due to budget cuts from sponsors. Instead, Russell and Peter were presented with a floral tribute as an economical replacement for the time-honoured tulip and rose bowl, which, nearly four decades on, they’re still waiting for!
However, a chance meeting between Russell and former driver Eddy Van Den Hoorn at an event in San Marino went full circle when the Dutchman contacted the Tulpenrallye organisers to explain the situation.
And the rally veteran has now been made a special guest at the 2017 Tulpenrallye, where he will finally receive the coveted prize that has eluded him for almost forty years!
Following his invite, Russell contacted Andrews Sykes and asked whether they would be able to help transport the Escort RS 1800 to the Netherlands for the event. This would enable the car to be reunited with Russell at the scene of his historic triumph in the Netherlands.
A gala dinner has been scheduled for 19:30 this Saturday, where, at long last, Russell will receive the award that has evaded him up until now – completing the final piece of an extremely protracted jigsaw puzzle!