First run in 1953, to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the East African Safari rally quickly developed a reputation for being the most challenging rally of all. For nearly 2 decades, Europe sent it’s best cars and drivers to Kenya and Tanzania, and each year the Safari sent them home empty handed It seemed only locals, like Bert Shankland, Bill Fritschy, Nick Nowicki and Joginder Singh, had the special skills necessary to conquered the Safari. With each passing year, the European crews grew more determined. Sooner or later, their luck had to change.
In 1972, the Ford factory team faced down a stiff challenge from the locally driven, Datsun works backed 240z’s and a host of privately entered Bluebird 1600SSS’s. Luck finally turned in Europe’s favor as Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm (the same pairing that won the grueling 1970 London to Mexico City World Cup Rally) seized victory for the Ford Works team in their Escort RS1600. Check out this short film documenting the ’72 East African Safari Rally. You can practically feel the humidity and taste the grit!