Some of you already know me as the owner and author of this website and that obviously makes me one of the biggest Group B aficionado and connoisseur on the planet. My journey is however an humble one, especially in such an elitist world, but I nonetheless invite you to follow me through the story about how my love for Group B changed my life.
QUICK BROWSE CONTENT
- JAY’S JOURNEY
- RALLY GROUP B SHRINE CREATION
- 53B RS-TURBO 16V: A Tribute to Group B and the 1980s
- WHY WAS GROUP B SO AWESOME?
- CONTACT ME
Born in the 1970’s in Canada, I’ve been a rallying fan for as long as I can remember and I have the sport to thank for my undeniable love for cars. In my youth, we followed our father, a RCAF loadmaster, to some of his various military assignments around the world. In mid-1986, one of them gave us the incredible opportunity to be stationed in Germany at the peak of the Golden Era of rallying. I instantly fell in love with the Group B rally machines; the speed, the power, the looks, the audacity of it all! It was the beginning of a lifetime obsession: the passion. Our adventure in Europe was cut short, as was Group B itself, and in September of 1987 we came back to our home country, this time for good.
It was not long after that I wanted to emulate my high-flying and fire-spitting heroes. However, most of the car models of Group B never were available in North America. As such, I had to make due with much cheaper second-hand base models such as an Opel Kadett E (GM import), Mazda 323 GTX, and a very rusty Audi Coupe quattro. Sadly, back then I had no confidence in my mechanic skills so I quickly parted ways with these rather rare cars as soon they started breaking down. I bet that I would be having a Sport quattro S1 E2 replica at this very moment if only I had been more confident in myself. The selling of the Audi was one of the biggest mistakes of my early adult life.
Quite distraught, I went into a slump that lasted for years. This unfortunately made me forego my love for 1980’s machinery so, upon advice from my father, I later bought a brand new Subaru Impreza WRX and then two years later traded it in for an STi version. Each was to be my future, definitive, rally weapon… or so I thought! These were never the cars that I actually wanted but they were new and reliable. However, I had squandered so much money in the purchases that doubts came over me once more: with this kind of money I could easily have paid to get one of my old cars repaired, built, and started competing! Another grave mistake that held me back some more.
One day, my childhood dream of rallying collapsed: a person I care very much for was hit with a degenerative disease and that melted my wallet back to almost nothing. However, this somehow gave me the courage I needed to not give up on my goals and go forward, finally turning my fear of failure and lack of confidence into determination. But 20 years had already passed since my original ambitions – my old bones didn’t feel like competing any more! Hence, I went out to educate myself on what I needed to know to create the rally car that I’ve always wanted and mend my life’s previous mistakes – if I can no longer buy it, I’ll build it myself! I was able to allocate a humble budget of approximately $1,500 per year to the venture.
I would fiddle around with the Subaru for a few years and be the first person worldwide to short-wheelbase a GD platform, initially by six inches, ultimately by eighteen inches overall. Then, in a weird twist of fate, nostalgia kicked down the door: my undying love for the 1980’s and Group B suddenly came back like a tidal-wave and made me realise that I’ve once again made a terrible mistake! I should have sold the Subaru to purchase a kit car or a car that I could have built a Group B replica out of. However, it was too late: the Subaru project had sunk the last of my life savings and the car utterly unsaleable in its rough prototype and excessively bespoke state. The only solution was to part it out and keep the good stuff.
It all obviously wasn’t a logical choice but the nostalgic link to the 1980’s, be it music, movies, cars, etc, is something that gives me much solace. With these personal moments, for mere seconds at a time, I am able to recall feelings of my youth; a time when everything felt better, when life was simpler, of when I didn’t have to worry about tomorrow. Their effect on me is overwhelmingly addictive.
With my family’s ever lasting support, I took the harsh decision to abandon all my previous efforts in favour of building from scratch my own vision of a Group B car but this time on genuine 1980’s steel. Thus, a replica was now financially impossible. However, a project that would tribute the distinct features and match the performance of Group B cars was still feasible. I just so happened to have an almost ideal base car and mechanical components for this project rotting away alongside the garage. For more details about my very special Group B / 1980’s tribute car project, please CLICK HERE.
In a decade, this exceptional journey of hard work and dedication has made me become a self-taught welder (MIG & TIG), fabricator, mechanic, engine builder, and bodywork journeyman. My new set of skills also made me an avid “do-it-yourself” person (including around the house) which led me to even fabricate my own trailer to haul the car to the track! I did and still do everything myself in my home garage with simple hand tools and a ludicrously low budget considering the “high-end” ambitions.
I then realised, even though my life had been filled mostly with mistakes and disappointments up to that point, that I shouldn’t dwell in regrets. After all, if my life had been different I probably wouldn’t have met the people that have helped change its course. Not to mention that my new found skills gave me a boost in self-confidence and recently even shifted my previously unsatisfying career. Truly, the Group B passion was life changing. In the end, life is a compromise, but I still wouldn’t change a thing!
THE RALLY GROUP B SHRINE
My nostalgia culminated in a need to further research Group B history for my own enjoyment and culture. Then I noticed that there wasn’t a website dedicated to Group B rallying that was very inclusive of all content; some had information only about the cars, others only about the statistics, and most only carried partial, biased, or incomplete information. This led to the creation of my “Rally Group B Shrine” which was originally put up on my personal blog in 2014.
Hundreds of hours of my time was used to research and write all the articles while I was down with an herniated disc. Since I reside in Canada, I am nowhere near actual Group B cars or museums, and this makes the whole adventure quite difficult. However, my vast collection of related books and my inherent passion for the topic contained enough knowledge for a good start. In a short amount of time, the “Shrine” soon became the most popular section of my blog which made me realise that it should be its own website. In 2016, I made it happen: this is where we are now!
Alongside my car project, this Shrine is now part of the master plan to make me relive my childhood dream of being part of Group B. Do note that the website remains an ongoing project in itself. Right now, it is only at a fraction of the level at which I want it to be even though I have since invested thousands of hours of my time! Hopefully it will one day be recognised as the “official” Group B encyclopedia.
I therefore dedicate the “Rally Group B Shrine” to the exploits and sacrifice of the courageous drivers and co-drivers, imaginative engineers, hardy mechanics, and everyone involved in making what Group B was. Shall they be remembered forever!
Since the genesis of the Shrine I have become a published author by providing Group B-related articles to auto magazines of renown. However, I have to say many thanks to the people who’s publications have inspired me because, if not for them, I wouldn’t possess the knowledge that I do and this website would not exist or be as complete; Graham Robson, Mike Moreton, John Davenport, Reinhard Klein, Vittorio Roberti, Luca Gastaldi, Bill Munro, the collective work of Motor Sport Magazine, and Auto Moto and Sport Magazine. You could even say that my love for Group B might not have been as strong if I didn’t have their work as a daily reminder.
In the end, I am just a fan with an extraordinary amount of passion and devotion who invested multiple thousands of hours of his time to create a website (and a tribute car). All is done in the little free time that is not dedicated my family, projects, and career. As such, if you find the website enjoyable and a good source of information, a small personal donation could be much appreciated! The Shrine expansion is still ongoing with as much effort as I can possibly put into it and it is ultimately my wish to be able to work on it full-time.
Do you have questions about myself or the website? If so, please use the contact form below to contact me! (anonymous or hateful messages will be rejected)
please allow up to 72 hours for a reply