The world of historic rallying has lost one of its best all rounders who drove, navigated, officiated and organised. He was also known for his communication and training skills as a top Competitor Liaison Officer.
Behind his outward passion for motor sport, lay a dedicated professional high in the world of the Civil Service, whose job included national security. Naturally that element was something he would never talk about, but motor sport was his release, he would talk for ever about his love of cars, historic vehicles and his favourite sport, rallying.
Tomas de Vargas Machuca, Chairman HERO-ERA commented on the sport’s sad loss; “Tony Davies was a friend and early supporter of HERO and then HERO-CRA and finally HERO-ERA.
“He worked hard with us in 2008 to ensure we could restart HERO and get people rallying. He was a marshal and flawless CLO on LeJog on many, many occasions, in fact he fulfilled multi roles in the sport with distinction. He later helped us with FIVA and the FBHVC.
“He was a Mini man but his Lancia Fulvia 1.3 was always recognisable when he was driving, although he ended up navigating on many events, Classic Marathons were a must for Tony!
“It is a very sad time, we lose a friend and a true enthusiast who dedicated so much time and passion to our beloved sport,”
Patrick Burke, Managing Director HERO-ERA. “We have lost a great friend and ambassador in Tony Davies, our sympathies go out to his wife Rose and their families.”
Peter Nedin, Clerk of the Course on LeJog for ten years who worked closely with Tony said; “Early on he was a Mini man, he competed in Minis in his early days before he started navigating. As with all good navigators he believed he was always right, even when he was wrong! When he really did get it wrong it became quite funny and he was ribbed over it.”
He did that on the first Iceland event with an old friend Stan Williams in an XK120.
“This was the first Icelandic event and the first I had organised and it was about three days into the event. Tony was late, really late for a control, when he eventually turned up he said ‘there was only one right slot in the whole of the morning session and I missed it! 20 miles later when I got to the next junction I realised where we’d gone wrong, so we had to turn around and go all the way back.’ He was quite happy to tell everybody about it and take the stick, but he was a good navigator, yet he was always humble. Even the best make mistakes, but in training sessions, he would always tell everybody that the navigator is always right!
“He was a FIVA Technical Commissioner before he became a training officer for us, he was Technical Commissioner on the Mille Miglia on more than one occasion, he was very well respected in the field and connected. He introduced me to Antonio Arderiu Freixa the FIVA Andorra and Spain Steward, who was and still is, Steward on London Lisbon, but Antonio helped get the event through Spain and Portugal in the early days.
“His attitude towards his role of Competitor Liaison Officer was that of a filter. He wanted to act as the buffer and stop the competitor getting to the Clerk of the Course with lots of silly little queries. He had a very clever way of diverting issues or problems and explaining to competitors where they had gone wrong in a way that didn’t upset the competitor’s feelings, even when they had really been idiots. He would go and explain and help them but then just tell them their queries were wrong!
“He was a man who was highly respected by all who came into contact with him, particularly the drivers who he teamed up with him as a navigator, Stan Williams, Tim Lawrence in his MGB, he did a lot of events with him and Irving Laidlaw. He did lots of events, even tours where he would be there with his wife in the Mini.
“He also navigated for Tony Newman in a Mini because they were both Mini men. There’s so many great rally results with Tony Davies’ name in them that it’s hard to know where to start!
“He competed on the Classic Marathon many times, once with Irvine Laidlaw, he loved the Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo as well competing with Tim Lawrence on occasion. He loved the challenge and competed in so many events including Iceland.
“He helped me for several years, not originally, as he was still busy competing when I first started. But he worked with me as CLO on LeJog and other events, he worked alongside Tony Newman and they worked very well together, it was a good team.
“He was involved in training when he stopped being the FIVA Technical Commissioner, he had a training site, which he used in his roles with the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs to help them with their training. He was a director of the federation from 2007-2019 and due to his love of motor sport, became Head of Events and Technical Director at the FBHVC. He also ran training sessions for me, it was something he was very keen on, trying to get people like navigators and clubs involved. He was very keen for clubs to get involved with organisations like FIVA so that they could understand the rules, then go rallying abroad comfortably and not run into problems of trying to follow international rules and regulations in different countries. He was a great all rounder who deserved his Honorary Membership of FIVA.
“He was a great guy, it is very sad news, there’s been a few recently from rallying who have passed away, but he is another loss for the world of historic rallying.”
Guy Woodcock Competition Director, HERO-ERA, commented; “I don’t think people realise how influential Tony was in negotiating with the FIA on behalf of FIVA to get the rule for the under 50 kph regularity through and into the regulations, saving everyone in historic rallying an awful lot of fuss.”
Tony’s career with the Civil Service lead him to a long association with the Civil Service Motoring Association becoming Chairman at one point. Through the CSMA’s ownership of the Cotswold Museum, Tony could indulge his passion for historic vehicles, in fact the museum still houses his MG 1100 that he used on the 1994 Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo event.
Guy continued, “I enjoyed working with him particularly between 2010-2015 when he was CLO on events such as LeJog, the RAC Rally of the Tests and London Lisbon. He was quite a character, people remember his Lancia but latterly it was always good to see him in his bright yellow SL Mercedes with the roof down!
“I worked on reccies with him, two Le Jogs in particular, and whilst he could never talk about it, there was no doubt in my mind that he was involved with security. There were little clues at times, but whilst he never confirmed a thing, it just made him an even more fascinating character. We will all miss him, our condolences go out to his wife Rose and their respective families.
*The Shires host Round Two as the Challenge Increases