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Gerry Crown 1933-2021. An all-conquering rally hero – An Appreciation

 

13 Mar 2021

Tomas de Vargas Machuca, the Chairman of HERO-ERA; “It is with great sadness that we have learned that Gerry Crown has died last night. Everyone at HERO-ERA would like to offer their most heartfelt condolences to Gerry’s family at this time of mourning. Gerry was a fascinating man and conquered the hearts of all those he crossed. Three times winner of the Peking to Paris with his latest win on the 7th edition in 2019 with Matt Bryson on the P76, Gerry would be the first on the road and the last man in the bar. He was very much a member of the HERO-ERA family as he had described it during the P2P awards dinner in Paris and indeed at the HERO-ERA awards dinner in January 2020. We can only be grateful for Gerry’s friendship over the years, A standard bearer for our beloved sport and a true Gentleman everywhere else. He will be greatly missed but always remembered.”

Gerry claimed the Triple Crown of Peking to Paris along with navigator and car preparer Matt Bryson. Gerry claimed the Classic category win in 2010 in the EH Holden, and again in 2013 and 2019 in the 1974 Leyland P76. The hugely popular Australian pairing of Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson were to join HERO-ERA for a fifth time on the 8th Peking to Paris Motor Challenge in 2022 but sadly now the great endurance champion Gerry will be missing. His Peking to Paris Motor Challenge ‘Triple Crown’ will be a record that stands for a long time.

The massive 1974 Leyland P76, known by some as the ‘time machine’, was built by Matt. The combination of Gerry’s incredible driving skills, knowing when to push and when to preserve, with Matt’s navigation skills, proved to be all conquering. Matt’s intimate knowledge of the P76 was a big bonus leading to the third, and sadly now final, win for Gerry in 2019.

Gerry said at the end of the event “this is our third win in the Leyland and it was the toughest yet, but it was also very enjoyable. What we really needed though was a few more 87 year old’s in the field to keep me company!’ What a character.

In his early days he rallied in Australia, attracting factory support from Renault. He then stopped to concentrate on running one of Australia’s best-known toys and games companies, Crown & Andrews, which he co-founded with Vic Andrews in 1961. They developed their products successfully in house and then licenced them around the world.

Once Gerry had made the company even more successful, he went back to motorsport building a global reputation as the undisputed king of gruelling endurance rallies, particularly with HERO-ERA.

He was incredibly competitive and regularly beat opponents half his age and more. He believed his youthful performance came courtesy of the family genes as his Mother and Father lived into their nineties. A large appeal for him was also as he once described it; ‘the wonderful camaraderie of rallying with old friends.’

When the weary but jubilant finishers arrived at the finish line in Paris in 2019, more than a month after setting out from Peking, Gerry looked as fresh as he did at the start as he shook the winners champagne.

Despite the 36 days crossing deserts and mountains through Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and into Western Europe, Gerry remained on top of his game throughout.

He lived for endurance competition, the tougher the better as far as he was concerned. He said at the finish, ‘I must also congratulate the organisers for keeping the spirit of the rally alive, it’s the Blue Riband event of the historic world and it needs to be tough.’

Rest in peace Gerry Crown, the all-conquering endurance rally hero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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