Former double British rally champion Russell Brookes dies aged 74

31st October 2019
Gary Axon

Goodwood Road and Racing is saddened to learn of the passing of twice British Rally Champion and Goodwood Forest Rally Stage star Russell Brookes yesterday at the age of 74.


Born in Worcestershire on 16th August 1945, Brookes took up rallying in the early 1960s, but had his big breakthrough in 1974 when he signed a contract with successful entrepreneur Andrews-Sykes and his famous 'Andrews Heat for Hire' liveried Ford Escorts, Lotus Sunbeam and Opel Manta rally cars.

For the 1976 season Brookes was given a Works Ford Escort MK 2 to contest the British rally Championship, when he lost out to Ari Vatanen. The following year, however, he took the British title in one of Ford’s Escort RS1800s.

Brookes had to wait another six years before regaining the Championship title in 1985 in an Andrews Heat for Hire-sponsored Opel Manta 400, having stuck with the same sponsor but switching from Escorts to Talbot Lotus Sunbeams and on to Opels in the early 1980s.


Away from the British Championship, Brookes also took multiple victories in both UK and overseas-based rallies, including the Welsh, Scottish, Ulster and Circuit of Ireland, as well as a trio of podium finishes on the RAC Rally (now Wales Rally GB), plus a sixth place on Rally Finland in a Vauxhall Chevette in 1982.

Brookes cut his rallying teeth in Minis in the 1960s, moving on to Escorts, Mantas and an impressive roll call of other capable rally weapons throughout his 30-year-plus career, including Porsche 911s, Opel Kadetts, Lancia Delta Integrales and the Lotus Sunbeam.


In more recent years Brookes became a regular and popular competitor on the Goodwood Festival of Speed’s tough Forest Rally Stage, where he always put on a great show for the motor racing enthusiasts. He will be very much missed by them, and all rally fans the world over, and our sympathies go out to his family and friends.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.

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