World Rally Championship

Madness on Wheels: Rallying’s Craziest Years on BBC (Group B documentary)

This topic contains 13 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  S.J.M 5 years, 6 months ago.

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    Hi. I just watched this on iplayer, thought I’d share it here and see if anybody wants to discuss it:

    It follows on from the BBC4 documentary ‘Grand Prix: The Killer Years’ (I think that’s what it was called). It’s a good watch, with some great and some tragic footage. Incredibly, it also makes Balestre even more unlikeable.



    It’s a great documentary, as ever. The portuguese part really touched me as I’m portuguese. Last year BBC came to Portugal to seek for information of the Joaquim Santos’ crash in 1986.

    It was the golden era of rallying, but, as in Formula One, it was incredibly dangerous.



    I found it amazing that one of the victims blamed the driver and refused to acknowledge either the FIA’s non-existent crowd control or his own will to stand on a dangerous corner. The imagery he used was bizarre- something about how if a car crashed into a house it isn’t the house’s fault… or course it isn’t- because the house was there first and built to stay there for a long time, not stand there for a short amount of time specifically during the rally, knowing that cars would be passing at high speed.



    Thanks for the tip, I’ll try watch this sometime this week.



    Thanks for posting this I would have missed it otherwise.



    Glad I’m not the only one that thought that guy was full of whatsit @matt90 . Afterwards they said something along the lines of ‘the families are still seeking compensation’, I’d guess he’s one of those and that’s his legal argument.

    I enjoyed the program, although any excuse to get Michele Mouton on screen is fine by me :)



    If anyone finds it posted somewhere viewable outside of the UK, I’d love to see. I finally found a place that had “Grand Prix: The Killer Years” and it was a fascinating watch.



    I thought it was worth watching, although I’m still not a big fan of these documentaries. They’re a bit too melodramatic, and they have this tone which is basically saying “look how bad it was back then, we’re much better now”. I don’t like that because, quite frankly, we only really know what’s better now with the benefit of hindsight.Still, getting the top drivers of the era was definitely a point in its favour, and it was presented better than the last two. As I said, very worth watching.

    There’s another Group B documentary “Too Fast to Race” which was made about 10 years ago. It’s more of a factual history than Madness on Wheels, but was more interesting in terms of the technology of the cars and of the era. You can get it on YouTube, or you can buy it from Duke Video with a follow up which I haven’t seen.


    Keith Collantine

    Once I saw this was from the same people as “Grand Prix: The Killer Years” I resolved to give this one a miss. I see Dan gave it a kicking: Review: Madness on Wheels – Rallying’s Craziest Years



    I thought it was excelent. I’ve just read Dan’s review and it’s the most biased and unaccurate review I’ve seen in years, he obviously has some axe to grind because of “Grand Prix the killer years”.

    Although not 100% accurate, the inaccuracies were minor. I certainly didn’t think the doccumentary blamed the cars or drivers, quite the contrary, they pointed out that this was what the popular press claimed, but I thought that the doccumentary did a reasonable job of trying to disprove this. Contrary to Dan’s claim most rallies at the time did get around 1 million spectators per event which of course is impossible for F1, but rallying’s coverage on TV at the time was very poor. Spectating was also free!

    I used to be a rally marshal at the time and always did the RAC. It brought back great memories, as well as remembering the constant plea to spectators not to stand on the outside of bends. A plea all to often ignored, the consequences of which this doccumentary clearly showed.



    Gotta say @keithcollantine that I disagree. The inaccuracies were a little grating if you could spot them, but not enough to distract from the great footage if nothing else. I disagree with Dan about the tone blaming the cars- it spoke at length about the crowd control issues. If anything it left it up to the viewer to decide to form an opinion. And to be fair, the cars were clearly an issue- the rules should have at least made them safer for the drivers (less likely to burst into flames, and actually have some crumple zones)- much though Dan seems to prefer to blame the crowds completely (which ignores the deaths of the drivers where no spectators were involved). So to you I would counter Dan’s review by saying that the footage is great, it is more informative than made out, and that although there are issues which prevent it being all that great, that shouldn’t detract from it still being worth a watch.

    EDIT: Also, it contains a lot of interviews with the best drivers of the day, as well as fans (bitter and idiotic, and sensible and fond) and team managers. So it gives you a great variety of direct perspectives that might otherwise have been left out.



    @matt90 @jimn I have to agree, I think the review Dan Cross has given is a bit over the top. I felt like the tone of the program cast a particularly damning verdict on the role of the FIA in policing these events, particularly the crowd control. This was then backed up with salient quotes and opinions from the drivers at the time, and present day.
    @keithcollantine I know for most on F1F, factual inaccuracies are going to really undermine any program related to motorsport because there are some very well read and informed fans on this site. But I have to say from someone who wasn’t old enough at the time to appreciate the power and performance going on in Group B, this program did more than enough to make me want me to find out more about what sounds like the pinnacle of the WRC.



    I thought this was a really great hour of TV – some incredible footage, and plenty of insightful interviews from drivers and team members. It managed, in the most part, to be interesting and accessible to the layman without dumbing down too much. I didn’t see “Grand Prix: The Killer Years” and I know this has a similarly hysterical title, but I would urge you to give it a go; I really enjoyed it.



    Really enjoyed it, if only for the footage and the interviews.

    I thought that the program did highlight that crowd control was appalling in the latin stages, although its pretty clear to see just by watching the footage.

    One issue I did have was that it was left to Walter Rohl to explain why it was that Bettega would never have survived that crash. Couldnt the narrator (whose the other negative, with their monotone voice) have explained that the 037’s ability to withstand a frontal impact was onpar to the strenght of tissue paper? Oh, and the title is plain stupid. Group B was both Rallyings Golden years and its darkest hour but Id say that rallying in general is madness and takes special kind of driver to compete in it regardless of the decade.

    Which brings me swiftly on, to the drivers. I firmly believe that Rally drivers, more so those of the Group B era, are bloody supermen. I cant think of anything more dangerous and nerve-breaking, then what they did. Knowing that a mistake at the speeds they could do, would likely seriously injure you or the equally brave/stupid fans that lined the roads. What happened in Portugal was an inevitability, whether it was Santos that hit them or not, somebody was going to at some point in time. Im not going to bother with that idiot blaming the driver.

    In short, enjoyed it and would watch again.

    And theres no documentry in the world that can make Jean-Marie Balestre look good, is there?!

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