Born on this day, Timo Makinen, one of the original “Flying Finns” of motor rallying

Friday 18th March 1938

Born on this day, Timo Makinen, one of the original “Flying Finns” of motor rallying. He is most famous for his hat-tricks of wins in the RAC Rally and the 1000 Lakes Rally.

Mäkinen’s start in international rallying came in the 1959 1000 Lakes Rally (now Rally Finland), in a Triumph TR3. He later drove works Austin-Healeys and Minis. In the big Healey, he finished fifth in the RAC Rally in 1963. Mäkinen drove Minis during most of 1964 but came second in the RAC Rally in a Healey, at the end of that year. He returned to the Mini Cooper S in 1965, winning the Monte Carlo Rally and the 1000 Lakes, and capturing a Coupe des Alpes at the Alpine Rally. He came second in the 1965 RAC Rally, again in a Healey.

In 1967, Timo Mäkinen drove his Mini at a high speed through the famous Ouninpohja stage of the 1000 Lakes with the car’s bonnet open. Leather straps holding the bonnet were not thoroughly tightened, and they opened after a few rough bounces. He tried to put his head out of the side window but his helmet was too big and he could only stick his head halfway out. So he had to skid the car sideways continuously to see the road ahead. Even so, Mäkinen was third fastest on that special stage and he also won the rally overall, for the third year in a row.

In 1975, Mäkinen won the RAC for the third time in a row, at the wheel of a Ford Escort RS1800, preceded only by Erik Carlsson (Saab 96) in that feat. Mäkinen won the Finnish Rally Championship three times, the ice track championship six times and the saloon car race championship three times.

In 1969, Mäkinen competed in the very first Round Britain Powerboat Race, which he won. In 1994, Mäkinen made a brief return as Mini celebrated the 30th anniversary of their 1964 Monte Carlo win by Paddy Hopkirk, who also participated in the event. Mäkinen retired on the second stage with a fuel system problem. In 2010, he was among the first four inductees into the Rally Hall of Fame, along with Carlsson, Hopkirk and Rauno Aaltonen.

Mäkinen also traveled to Australia to race Mini Cooper’s in the Bathurst 500 road race. He finished 6th outright and 3rd in class in 1965 co-driving with English rally driver Paddy Hopkirk while finishing 7th outright and 3rd in class in 1967 with Australian driver John French.

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