HOME

NOTICEBOARD

HEATHER WATSON

PERSONAL/WORK HISTORY

MOTORSPORT HISTORY

WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU?

CONTACT BOB

books:

THE GREAT ALPINE CONTEST

'IN CONTROL' - my autobiography

'DUNKO' - a biogrpahy of Ross Dunkerton

'PHILLIP ISLAND TO FANGIO'

other articles:

Round Australia Trials

Marathons

Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial

Historic Rally Association

CAMS

Victorian Historic Racing Register

Light Car Club of Australia

Funny Place Names

h

NEW BOOK - The Great Alpine Contest

 

h

Available for order -
'Phillip Island to Fangio'

 

h

'In Control' (my Autobiography) - only a few copies left for sale!

 

Victorian Rally Hall of Fame Award

 

Australian Rally Champions

 

Renault Alpine A110

 

Datsun 1600

 

Ford Escort BDA Mk1

 

Renault R8 Gordini

 

Gordini at Rallycross

 

Monaro GTS 327 at Bathurst

 

Roberts / Watson Sandown Finish

 

My Porsche 911S

 

Welcome to my Website.

 

Bob Watson is a qualified mechanical engineer, former Australian and Victorian champion car rally driver, International rally winner, author of several motor sport books, part time motoring journalist, motor sport event organiser, and inaugural inductee into both the Australian and Victorian Rally Halls of Fame. He has been awarded Life Membership of Motor Sport Australia, formerly the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport.


JULY 2021

News Flash

The Great Alpine Contest, the history of the Australian Alpine Rally is now available.

To celebrate the centenary of the Australian Alpine Rally, Bob Watson has written a comprehensive history of the historic event, titled The Great Alpine Contest. The book covers the history of the Alpine Rally from its inauguration in 1921 by the RACV through to its adoption by the Victorian Historic Rally Association and the centenary event to be held at Lakes Entrance in December 2021.

The Australian Alpine Rally is the world’s second oldest car rally, behind the Monte Carlo Rally. It was conceived in 1921 by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria and organized by a proven director of long distance motoring events, Harry James. The object of the event was to demonstrate the beauty and attractions of Victoria’s Alpine region and thereby stimulate the interest of tourists.

The first Alpine contest was a great success, the competitors enthusiastic about what they did and what they saw. The second event in 1922 had double the number of starters and began what was to be a continuing series of event for a century.

The early Alpines initiated improvements in Alpine roads, and with increased tourist interest, the hotels and services along the way also improved. By 1926 the RACV was being overwhelmed by motoring matters such as road services, insurance and matters of importance to the rapidly increasing number of normal motorists, so the organisation of the Alpine Rally was taken over by the Victorian Light Car Club, later to become the Light Car Club of Australia.

After the hiatus of World War 2, the event continued, with more emphasis on competition. The Alpine region had been opened up and motor cars were common so the event changed in nature to place more emphasis on driving and navigation skills. The Alpine continued through the golden era of rallying in Australia, growing in stature year by year until the unfortunate bankruptcy of the Light Car Club in 1992.



After a period of uncertainty the event was taken over by the Historic Rally Association, which had been formed to foster historic rallying as run in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The club had already organized events to commemorate the International BP Rally of South Eastern Australia, so the Alpine was a natural follow on. The first HRA Alpine Rally was run in 1991, and has been run every alternate year since.

The Great Alpine Contest records the history of this classic event from 1921 up to the present time. It contains hundreds of photos, many from the 1920s era and many from Australia’s best contemporary rally photographers. It has original contributions from several of the most important Alpine Rally directors and, in their own words, stories from the most successful drivers including Harry Firth, Frank Kilfoyle, Greg Carr and Geoff Portman.

The Australian Alpine Rally is an event of world importance. The author of The Great Alpine Contest, Bob Watson who is the oldest living winner of the Alpine Rally and the oldest living Australian Rally Champion has worked hard to ensure the history of this precious motor sport history is preserved.

 

Click HERE for the order form

 

 


hall of fame

Bob commenced his working career as a mechanical engineer at Holdens at Fishermens Bend. After a short engineering cadetship he worked in the Experimental Department at Holden on engines, chassis and brakes. He became brake design engineer for Holden before leaving to follow a career in motor sport.

 

He won the Victorian Trials championship in 1968 and 1969, and in 1970 became Rally Competition Manager for Renault Australia, co-ordinating Renault’s rally program throughout Australia. He won the Australian Rally championship in 1970 driving a Renault R8 Gordini, and a further two Victorian championships in 1970 and 1973.

 

In 1973 Renault withdrew from motorsport and Bob returned to work at Holden as Resident Engineer for Bendix Automotive. In 1977 he was asked to organize a team of Peugeot cars for the Singapore Airlines London to Sydney Marathon and finished fifth overall, first in class and first all- Australian crew with team mates Ross Dunkerton and Roger Bonhomme.

 

At the conclusion of this successful project Bob opened a car repair and servicing workshop, Bob Watson’s Service Centre located in Hawthorn in Melbourne’s east in partnership with a friend and former Renault rally team mechanic, Bruce Shepherd.

 

In 1990 Bob sold his share of the business to Shepherd, and then began organizing a series of long distance rallies, including the Australian leg of the 1993 Lombard London to Sydney rally and the round Australia Mobil 1 Trial in 1995. The Mobil 1 Trial celebrated Mobil’s centenary in Australia and had 134 starters. It was won by Ed Ordynski and Ross Runnalls in a Holden Commodore.

 

In 1995 Bob returned to work at Holden, first in the Holden Engine Company and then as chassis engineer in the newly formed Asia Pacific Engineering group which was set up to engineer Opel products for the Asia Pacific region. He then joined the team that developed the Holden Adventra, the first AWD car designed and built in Australia, to develop all chassis components.

 

Leaving Holden yet again he assisted in the organizing of two Grand Prix Rallies in 2004/5, the Great Ocean Road Escape for Porsche in 2006, and then directed the 7500 km Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial in 2008. He is the recipient of a Confederation of Australian Motor Sport Service Award, and is a life member of the Historic Rally Association. He has been a member of the committees of the Austin Seven Club of Victoria, The GMH Motoring Club, the Light Car Club of Australia, the Historic Rally Association and has served on numerous CAMS committees and sub committees.

 

Bob is an inaugral inductee into the Victorian Rally Hall of Fame (2005) and the National Rally Hall of Fame (2013).

 

Sadly Heather, Bob's wife, of 38 years passed away late in 2010 after a brave ten year battle with cancer. See 'Heather Watson'.

 

Bob is the author of three motor sport related books - his autobiography, 'In Control', the history of the Light Car Club of Australia, 'Phillip Island to Fangio', and the life story of rally driver Ross Dunkerton, 'Dunko'. Click the buttons on the menu bar for more detail.