Vale Bruce Hodgson
Friday 01 October, 2021
Bruce Hodgson. 1932-2021. (Photo:Ben Dillon, Ford Australia)
Motorsport Australia is saddened to hear of the passing of Australian rally stalwart, Bruce ‘Hoddo’ Hodgson.
One of the great long distance rally drivers of his era, Bruce was best known for his time driving for Ford in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Born in 1932, Bruce didn’t get involved in the sport until his 30s when he started racing Ford Escorts in state level rallies.
Impressing Ford with his ability to handle the cars, Bruce’s big break came in 1968 when he was approached to compete in the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon – an event spanning 33-days and through three continents, making it the world’s largest rally event.
Part of a three-car team that included the great Harry Firth, Bruce and co-driver Doug Rutherford steered their Ford Falcon to outright sixth place, two places ahead of Firth and three behind the other Ford Motor Company of Australia – which was enough to secure the Teams' Prize.
Following on from his mighty efforts that saw him place in the top 10 out of 98 cars, Bruce continued to race for Ford for the next few years.
One of his biggest highlights after 1968 came just three years later when he and co-driver Mike Mitchell became the first crew outside of New Zealand to win the International Heatway Rally – once again behind the wheel of a Ford escort.
Another major moment for the Queenslander came two years later when he piloted the Ford Falcon GTHO Phase Four in the 1973 Alpine Rally – becoming the only driver ever to do so due to only four cars ever being built.
After a quiet period in the 1980s, Bruce’s big return to rally came on tarmac when he headed up a four-man team at the inaugural Targa Tasmania in 1992, which included Formula 1 legend Sir Stirling Moss, British rally champion Roger Clark and a young Ben Rainsford.
While they didn’t win the event, they didn’t go home empty handed and claimed the team’s prize – further highlighting Bruce’s ability as a leader.
Often touted as a mechanically sympathetic driver who was perfect for long distance, Bruce continued to run in marathon races over the next decade, competing in the 1993 25-year anniversary of the London to Sydney, the 1995 London to Mexico, and the 2000 London to Sydney.
Out of the car, Bruce took on a mentorship role and guided young drivers – his most fabled protégé being rally star Clay Badenoch.
As an official, Bruce was actively involved in organising the Classic Adelaide in the 1990s, was a regular attendee of the Queensland Rally panel and in his later years, was an integral part of the Rally Australia officials team.
An extremely popular and hugely respected individual around the world, Bruce will be sorely missed by many in the rallying community.
Motorsport Australia offers its condolences to the family, friends and fans of Bruce Hodgson.