In the 1960’s, no rally team was more talented than the BMC works team of Rauno Aaltonen, Paddy Hopkirk, and Timo Makinen. Aaltonen, nicknamed “The Rally Professor”, was the epitome of professionalism, always prepared, technically proficient on tarmac and loose surfaces. Paddy Hopkirk , the marketable face of the BMC team to its English constituency, was no slouch behind the wheel himself. And then, there was Makinen, who was on “Mak Attack” when Tommi (no relation) Makinen was still in diapers. Armed with the revolutionary Mini Cooper S, BMC’s Three Musketeers carved up the competition in international rallying. While all three had legendary careers, it was a single photo of an astonishing circumstance that cemented Timo Makinen’s reputation as arguably the most balls-out rally driver ever.
Seeking a third consecutive win on his home rally, the Rally of a 1000 Lakes, Makinen found himself in a pitched battle with the works Ford Cortinas, led by Vic Elford, and Saab’s factory team, led by Simo Lampinen. On the rally’s final day, Makinen led Lampinen by a scant 15 seconds as they were about to take on the fearsome Ouninpohja stage. Makinen, having just left the service area to sort an overheating issue, tore out of the blocks at his usual blistering pace. About a third of the way into the 21 miles stage, Makinen took a “yump” at full throttle and landed hard; The hood latch and both bonnet straps let go, and up went the hood. Timo Makinen was driving blind. Stopping to fix the issue would cost him valuable time, and a victory. At first, he tried sticking his head out the driver’s side window. Mk1 Mini Coopers had sliding side windows, and Makinen’s helmeted head didn’t fit the opening. So, for the next 14 miles, Makinen maximized the Mini’s short wheelbase and drifted the car from corner to corner, finishing with the third fastest time on the stage!
I think that bears repeating….Timo Makinen drifted 14 miles, on Ouninpohja, with his car’s bonnet in the upright and “OH CRAP!!” position, and set the third fastest time on the stage!!!!
After that bit of drama, Makinen battened down the hatch, so to speak, set the fastest time of rally’s final two stages and edged Simo Lampinen by just 8 seconds. Just another day at the office for a driver with balls of depleted uranium.
You can see what may be the only film footage of Makinen’s legend making drive at the 1:32 mark of this clip, which is a tribute to the 1000 Lakes Rally/Rally Finland.
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