As the 1977 Singapore Airlines London to Sydney Car Rally wound its way down the Malay Peninsular, we ended up on a special competitive stage in the Taiping Rubber Plantation,
|Hans Tholstrup in the Taiping Rubber Plantation|
I think we found our way through the maze by good luck and dead reckoning.
After that we arrived at the Palace of Perak, home of the Sultan of Perak, one of Malaysia's wealthiest sultans, and owner of the vast Taiping Plantation.
The Sultan and his 21 year old son were complete car buffs, and demanded that the MMSC set up a 'Control Point' in the palace grounds.
This did not fit with the rules, but who argues with the local potentate? So, the entire rally field had to be guided through the palace gates, and when the Sultan saw more than 70 vehicles crowding the lawns, the Sultan's staff moved to Plan B.
The Sultan's ADC invited a select few competitors to a guided tour of the palace and a small luncheon.
Hans Tholstrup and I were invited because the Sultan thought our Mini Moke was; quote: "Quite cute. And you drove this all the way from London? Well done boys!"
The tour and luncheon only lasted 20 minutes, because the stop at the Palace wasn't included in the timing for the next two stages to Johor Bahru. Needless to say, we all had to drive like maniacs to make up time.
The Sultan's son at the time, Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, is now the 35th Sultan of Perak, and as this official photo shows, he has done his bit for the royal line by producing a son and heir! But when we met him at 21 he already owned several BMW's and Porsches, and competed in amateur rallies.
It's amazing what you can get away with when you're a Prince!