Before Dakar there was the Safari, a rally that tested man and machine against the clock in some of the harshest conditions East Africa can provide. Naturally there are many tales to tell of the glory years from 1953 to 1972, and a book recently published by Mike Norris recalls the background to the event and a look at each of the rallies – but in a different way to the norm. Norris was born in Mombasa, Kenya and as a child watched the rallies taking place, later helping out at control points. He then combined his love of the sport with a talent for art and set about producing oil paintings representing each of the rallies, reproductions of which the now-retired Norris has made available in a full colour, 230×170 mm hard-cover book.

Each event is covered in double-page spread that features a full-page image of one of the competitors opposite a brief story of what took place. Some of the event’s influential individuals are also covered. From Goss and Gales’ Ford Consul Mk.1 to Hillyar and Birley’s Ford Escort 1600RS, the cars are depicted in action and convey the spirit of an event that was as much an adventure as a competitive rally. “A wonderfully unique, concise and very readable history of that period of the Safari Rally,” says 1969 winner Robin Hillyar.

The 1972 rally was won by Mikkola/Palm, the first internationals to do so, and such was its standing that it became part of the WRC and, consequently, far more commercial. But it was the earlier events that set the stage and this book is a reminder of those brave screws who faced everything from deep sand to flash floods in what were basically strengthened road cars. The book sells for R300. Copies can be purchased from FMM reception. Enquiries and orders can be e-mailed to the author at norris.mikeh@gmail.comMM