Hywel 'The Mac' Thomas

On the 16th September, international rallying lost one of its most charesmatic characters with the untimely death at 73 of Hywel Thomas following a short illness. He'd started navigating on road rallies in the 1960s and one of his earliest triumphs was winning the inaugural 1965 Tour of Epynt with Tony Chappell in a Lotus Elan.

His life-long sobriquet 'Hywel the Mac' derived from his normal form of rally-wear; a dark coloured gabardine raincoat, worn when all others were sporting trendy Dunlop rally jackets! Hywel's remarkable career as a co-driver had taken him all around the world and he'd competed with a distinguished alumni of drivers that included:- Tony Chappell, Ron Gillard, Norman Harvey, John Heppenstall, Alun Rees, John Price, Phillip Young and Bob Fowden.

A native of Neath, Hywel was a founder and life-long member of Port Talbot Motor Club and proudly counted the iconic Motoring News rallies of the 1960s; the Gremlin and Nutcracker, among his list of outright victories but by the end of the sixties he was a regular international competitor too and his tally included 6 Monte Carlo rallies, the Coupe des Alpes with Chris Slater, the Acropolis, several Safaris' and the Himalayan Rally with Phillip Young.

Perhaps one of his greatest achievements was taking part in the grueling London-Mexico World cup Rally of 1970 with Alun Rees and West Wales Rootes dealer Washington James. After a litany of hairy adventures their privately entered Hillman Hunter finished in 15th place and they returned to Carmarthen as national heroes!

A clever and intuitive IT specialist by profession, Hywel latterly developed his own Rally Results International Service to provide a high-standard results service to international and national events. One of his customers was The Raid de Himalaya based in Shimla and earning him unlikely celebrity status in India!

By his own admission, Hywel; possessed with a very high standard work ethic, could sometimes be prickly and pedantic, possibly in pursuit of perfection, but behind this facade he was charming, helpful and approachable. Hywel had forgotten more about rallying than most of us will ever know and this short summary of him does not do his ability and many rallying successes justice. Hywel must qualify firmly in the pantheon of rallying legends. We extend our condolences to his sister Elen and family as well as his many friends in the sport.

28th September, 2015