Rallying is a sport full of winners and losers. For every victory, there is someone robbed of a chance in the spotlight; for every close call with a ditch, there is a car going home early on a trailer.
Furthermore, it is a game where skill alone is not enough for success. As too often we have heard, “He had the speed but not the bank balance”, there is only so far that someone can go on speed alone, but if they lack the ambition or professionalism it can also hinder your progress.
We are lucky to have so many legends of rallying, the likes of Bertie Fisher, Andrew Nesbitt and Eugene Donnelly, all of whom established themselves at the top; as well as the great underdogs such as Frank Meagher. But for every driver who reaches their full potential, there are those who, for one reason or another, do not.
That is what A Magnificent Seven is all about. In the latest release from RPM Motorsport, we are taken on a three DVD adventure through the RPM archives to look at seven drivers who could have taken themselves further, but each for their own reasons, didn’t.
The series spans across decades of rallying, from John Lyons – the bank manager who’s pace attracted a number of manufacturer backed drives, to Kevin Lynch – the businessman who saw rallying as a way to promote his commercial activities, and it breaks down the most magnificent drivers of those eras and goes through the glorious footage to relive the moments that made them. There is a very personal feel to each of the featured drivers, and it is when you can hear their recollections and insight that you earn a greater respect. Seeing the footage of some of the greatest drives, and then to hear exactly what happened is a previously unwitnessed access.
Of course these stories are for the most part not unheard of, everyone knows that Stephen Finley was a world-class driver who was held back by his shyness towards the media, but to hear about his life from his contemporaries, and to look back at the footage off the times he did compete, is pleasant viewing; and reminds you of what a talent he was.
The footage used in the three-part DVD all focus on the best examples of why these seven drivers deserve to have a shining light put upon them. There is no event-long broadcasts or focuses on driver battles elsewhere in the field, and rightly so. Although it would be nice to relive the endless amount of entertaining Internationals from over the years, but that is not the premise of this DVD; it uses the rallies as context but it is the personal feelings behind the helmet that hooks you to be invested into the retelling of these stories.
That being said, there is still a great treat for those who like to reminisce on the days of rallying gone by. The shots of James Cullen and Ellen Morgan in the pink Sierra or James Leckey’s Village Homes Escort; the Celicas of Ian Greer and Liam O’Callaghan or any other by-gone cars that they went up against are a treat to watch and place you right in the era of those competing.
The drivers are all rated on their speed, ambition, aspiration and professionalism but what is most important about these selected drivers is not how they compare to each other or to the titans who they were against, but rather the reasons they were limited from competing or how they overcame the hurdles to achieve what they did. Each in their own right they were small-time and short stay heroes who did enough during their time on the circuit to have people talking about them even now; and I think that is the real yardstick for measuring the winners in motorsport.
The DVDs can be purchased individually or as a boxset including all three volumes. Volume I features
John Lyons and James Cullen. Volume II includes Stephen Finlay, James Leckey and Ian Greer, while
Volume III looks back at Liam O’Callaghan and Kevin Lynch. The prefect present for the Rally fan in your life!
They can be purchased on rpm-motorsport.com