A widely talented rally driver, co-driver and navigator, Warwick Smith will follow previous patrons; George Fury, Geoff Portman, Jeff Beaumont, Bruce Garland, Kate Officer and Philip Rodgers, in filling this unique but some might say somewhat dubious role at Mitta this year.
Why have a patron at a rally, you may well ask? The organisers of the Mitta Mountain Rally thought that having an event patron that was a respected elder of the sport would provide a great link between contemporary competitors at the state championship level and older crews and their cars in the Mitta Masters.
Warwick started rallying in 1966 as a navigator and member of the Renault Car Club. He soon turned his hand to driving as well in a diminutive Renault 750, moving on to a Renault Dauphine 904, then 1100, then the better Renault Ondine 1100 then 1300, but never a Gordini.
He experienced success as a navigator initially with Geoff Lawson in a Mazda R100, then with Bob Bird in a Cortina and Torana XU-1, winning the 1972 Victorian Clubman Championship, while being picked out by Harry Firth to accompany Barry Ferguson in a Holden Dealer Team XU-1 in the 1972 Australian Rally Championship. This led to pairing with Peter Lang to win the 1973 ARC also in a HDT XU-1.
In amongst the co-driving, he fitted in events driving with his great mate Bruce Norton as navigator.
He came close to winning the Victorian Rally Championship as navigator with Bob Bird on a number of occasions in the mid-70s before concentrating on driving a Mitsubishi Lancer to dominate the VRC from 1978 to 1980.
He took a turn at directing, creating the Goldfields Rally, run annually from 1974 to 1978, which was noted for the very tight and demanding route charts on vague tracks through the forests around Dunolly.
Warwick will be floating around at Mitta this year, so feel free to have a chat to him. He may have some useful advice as to how to be successful. He will also be interviewed at the post event presentation function about the cars he has rallied in and the famous drivers he has guided, including Peter Lang, Colin Bond, Peter Brock and Peter Janson and his thoughts on present day rallying before presenting trophies, including the Warwick Smith Cup to the winners of the Mitta Masters.