Initially, marshals read the competitors’ sealed watches, but this was soon superseded by mechanical clocks used in pigeon racing but adapted for rallying; these could print the face of the clock on paper. Marshals then clocked the rally cars by stamping the time on paper and handing the printout to the navigator. The chief timekeeper of the rally had to synchronise all the pigeon clocks before distributing them to the marshals – often as many as 60 clocks! With the Total Rally, where the clocks were distributed all over Southern Africa, keeping the clocks on the correct time was done using the short wave radio frequency.
Once you were fully into rallying, the next step was modifying your daily a touch to improve acceleration in order to get up to speed and maintain the required average time after slowing for corners, hazards or marshal points. Rallyists started shopping for multiple Weber or SU carbs and playing with cylinder heads – the two-stroke DKWs responded well to having port work done by experts like Coen Spamer or Bokkie Steyn. Better road holding meant maintaining or getting back up to required speeds faster, so in came better shock absorbers, limited-slip differentials and tyres. At scrutineering one could spot multiple shocks on both sides of the back axle on some Volvo 122Ss while the rubber of choice moved from Michelin X, to the asymmetrical XASs (negative camber Gordinis loved them!) or to Dunlop SP49s, SP73s and eventually Dunlop’s M&Ss.
Ferodo DS11 brake pads were chosen stoppers and weight was saved by removing rear seats, bumpers and interior trim. With many crews holding weekday jobs, most rallies ran at night so spotlights and mist lights were essential. Cibie spotlights ruled the roost but Ewold van Bergen topped the pile with his Datsun SSS fitted with aircraft landing lights.