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#1 Cooperman

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 09:57 PM

Most of those involved with the Mini in rallying will know of the exploits and successes of Will Sparrow.

 

I have just heard the Will's long-time navigator and friend, Nigel Raeburn, passed away this morning.

 

Will and Nigel were the last people to win an international rally in a Mini, the Welsh Rally in 1970, and coming 2nd in 1971.

 

Nigel was a fantastic navigator and a really nice guy. I am pleased to have been able to call him a good friend.

 

The world of classic Minis, and rallying in general, has lost an iconic figure.

 

RIP Nigel.



#2 sonikk4

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 10:06 PM

RIP Nigel.



#3 Stu1961

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 10:13 PM

Sad news, I remember Nigel and Will sparrow from the mid 70's, Firenza's and Chevettes if my memory serves me correctly. 


Edited by Stu1961, 12 October 2017 - 10:13 PM.


#4 keefr22

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 10:18 PM

Very sad news. I remember watching MN events they were competing in. I still treasure my copy of CCC that has the 'Inside Will Sparrow's Mini' in. They were a great team....

 

RIP Nigel

 

Keith



#5 Cooperman

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 10:27 PM

After the years in Minis, Will & Nigel moved on to Vauxhalls with Dealer Team Vauxhall (DTV) and, sometimes, the Escort Mexico.

 

They were great competitors and true sportsmen. A very hard-to-beat crew.



#6 minisi35

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 07:40 AM

Very sad news, condolences to all who knew him



#7 Northernpower

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 08:47 AM

I remember seeing Will Sparrow and him at the start of the 1972 RAC rally at York in I think the DTV Firenza. It was so different then, the majority of the crews were approachable and ordinary guys just having a great time (if they got a good result). We went up to speak to them because of their past exploits in their Mini because thats what we were rallying at the time. They made time for us, sadly missed.



#8 A-Cell

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 03:44 PM

Peter
A sad loss. Condolences to his family.
Here are some of his memories, great reading for a flavour of his motor sport life.
https://nigelraeburn.wordpress.com

#9 Cooperman

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 05:14 PM

The first historic rally I drove on was the 195 Welsh Retro. Nigel won, navigating for the very rapid Geoff Breakall and Richard Hudson-Evans was 2nd in a big Healey.

We were third dropping just one minute in the 'S' on the long night section with my son navigating. We made an error on the very first test by going the wrong side of a marker cone which cost us the win.

 

Anyway, at the finish whilst my son was getting us a round of drinks, Nigel asked me how many rallies my son Mick had done. I said about 4. He said that if he could navigate that night section with only one minute lost he had more navigating aptitude than he and I together. Coming from Nigel that made me very proud as I always thought that there were two navigators who were simply better than any of the rest of us. Nigel was one and Don Barrow the other.

 

Nigel's son Graham is a good friend of my son and it is indeed a great loss to the family and to rallying in general. 

 

Very sad.



#10 Malcolm Montgomery

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 12:00 PM

Terribly sad news.  My condolences to the family.  Back in June Nigel got in contact with me when I was looking for information to restore the Will Sparrow Mini and he was very helpful and a real gentleman.



#11 Cooperman

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 12:45 PM

I remember seeing Will Sparrow and him at the start of the 1972 RAC rally at York in I think the DTV Firenza. It was so different then, the majority of the crews were approachable and ordinary guys just having a great time (if they got a good result). We went up to speak to them because of their past exploits in their Mini because thats what we were rallying at the time. They made time for us, sadly missed.

If you were at the start of the 1972 RAC we must have almost bumped into each other. I was co-driving Andy Dawson in an Alfa-Romeo 2000GTV at No.42, right near Will and Nigel.

It's a small world!



#12 Northernpower

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 03:34 PM


I remember seeing Will Sparrow and him at the start of the 1972 RAC rally at York in I think the DTV Firenza. It was so different then, the majority of the crews were approachable and ordinary guys just having a great time (if they got a good result). We went up to speak to them because of their past exploits in their Mini because thats what we were rallying at the time. They made time for us, sadly missed.

If you were at the start of the 1972 RAC we must have almost bumped into each other. I was co-driving Andy Dawson in an Alfa-Romeo 2000GTV at No.42, right near Will and Nigel.
It's a small world!
It is a small world indeed, I'm sure it was the 72 event I can remember it was won by Roger Clark. Can you confirm if Will and Nigel were driving the DTV Firenza?

#13 Cooperman

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 07:16 PM

 

 

I remember seeing Will Sparrow and him at the start of the 1972 RAC rally at York in I think the DTV Firenza. It was so different then, the majority of the crews were approachable and ordinary guys just having a great time (if they got a good result). We went up to speak to them because of their past exploits in their Mini because thats what we were rallying at the time. They made time for us, sadly missed.

If you were at the start of the 1972 RAC we must have almost bumped into each other. I was co-driving Andy Dawson in an Alfa-Romeo 2000GTV at No.42, right near Will and Nigel.
It's a small world!
It is a small world indeed, I'm sure it was the 72 event I can remember it was won by Roger Clark. Can you confirm if Will and Nigel were driving the DTV Firenza?

 

Yes, they were in the Martin Group Vauxhal Firenza at No.38 and Andy and I were at 42 in the Alfa.

Will and Nigel retired with broken suspension and we retired with a broken diff unit.

I remember the event very well for several reasons, one of which was doing 127 mph down the long straight in Langdale Forest.

It was a great party at the finish  ;D .



#14 Northernpower

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 01:29 PM

Yes, they were in the Martin Group Vauxhal Firenza at No.38 and Andy and I were at 42 in the Alfa.

 

 

Will and Nigel retired with broken suspension and we retired with a broken diff unit.

I remember the event very well for several reasons, one of which was doing 127 mph down the long straight in Langdale Forest.

It was a great party at the finish  ;D .

 

Its a small world. We were sponsored at the time by Walkers Garage (the driver was an employee), Walkers eventually ended up buying that particular Martin Group Firenza and took the power train out of it and put it into a Chevette. They used to prepare the ex works Chevette that was owned at the time by Chris Lord and the one Walkers built up was an exact copy of it. This Chevette replaced a MkII Escort  which I thought was good but the Chevette was in a different league; it was the first rally car I'd been in that was fully purpose built and proven on forest stages. It was staggeringly quick through and out of the corners.

 

Penti Airikkala was employed to be the works driver for Vauxhall but he wanted his Chevette to be left hand drive. They struggled to fit the engine into the same mounts and had to cant it further over to miss the LHD steering column, in doing so they discovered it gained another eight BHP on the rolling road. So disbelieving were the management at the time they measured the output on Chris Sclaters RHD one and then took it out and installed it in Penti's and sure enough it gained eight BHP. If only it were that simple to gain more power. Suffice to say it was put back in Chris's car at the new angle and it gave the increase in power.



#15 Cooperman

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 07:58 PM

It certainly is a small world. I was George Hill's co-driver in 1976 in the Martin Group/DTV Firenza until I had to temporarily give up top-flight UK rallying to concentrate on building up my business.

 

I was also Chris Sclater's co-driver for some events in 1969 & 1970, including a 2nd place on the Circuit of Ireland in 1970 in an ex-works Escort and my biggest ever accident on the 1969 Scottish in an ex-works Cortina Lotus (KPU381C). Chris has an autobiography coming out very shortly, like in the next 4 weeks.

 

Nigel's funeral is on the 30th October near Macclesfield in Cheshire. I reckon there will be a huge number of us 'old rally folk' there.






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