Our story from the early 1950's to-date
The origins of the East African Safari Rally may be traced back to the early 1950s, and a conversation between one Eric Cecil and his cousin, Neil Vincent. A dyed-in-the-wool motorsport thrill seeker, Vincent, refused to compete at the newly built Langa Langa circuit near Nakuru, in Kenya’s Rift Valley. “I can imagine nothing more boring than driving round and round the same piece of track,” he allegedly declared. “But if you will organise an event where we get into our cars, slam the door, go halfway across Africa and back and the first car home is a winner, I’ll be in it.“
THE 1953 CORONATION RALLY
The inaugural Coronation Rally was a huge success and was repeated annually, attracting increasing interest from competitors all over the world. In 1957, the FIA marked the Coronation Rally on its international motor sport calendar.
THE EAST AFRICAN SAFARI RALLY
In 1960, the event name was changed to the East African Safari Rally. This marked a glory period for the event. Following the independence of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the rally continued to cross between borders, with event start and finish points regularly rotated. Despite growing international interest and entries the event remained dominated by local drivers, showing both their knowledge of the terrain but also their driving skills.
In 1972, Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm finally took the first Safari win by a European crew, in the mighty Ford Escort RS1600, ushering in a new era where the Safari became a key part of the international WRC calendar, with huge investments from works teams such as Lancia and Toyota, and latterly Ford and Subaru.
THE SAFARI CLASSIC
Being dropped by the WRC in 2003, the Safari has continued as a regional event, both in the KNRC and the ARC. At the same time as the WRC’s decision, another momentous event occurred – the reinvention of the Safari Rally for classic cars, returning East Africa to the international motor sport scene and recreating the spirit of rallying in its heyday.