Whether it is the FA Cup, Ryder Cup, America’s Cup, Webb Ellis Cup or the Ashes, Britain is famous around the globe for its iconic and inspirational sporting trophies.
British motor sport, too, is blessed with some magnificent awards. The Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy with its 18 carat gold figure of Hermes has an unrivalled heritage while the gold plated, solid silver British Grand Prix Trophy is coveted by all Grand Prix drivers, not least Lewis Hamilton.
Since the early ’50s, the equally resplendent Peall Trophy has been awarded to the winners of Rally GB, today the UK’s revered round of FIA World Rally Championship.
By any standards, standing more than two and a half feet tall and weighing in excess of 18lbs with its mahogany base, it is an impressive trophy… and one that now bears the names of Elfyn Evans and Dan Barritt after their history-making exploits in last year’s event – Evans becoming the first Welsh driver ever to win a round of the WRC.
Although Evans is one of only four acclaimed British drivers to have celebrated World Rally Championship success on home soil – the others being Roger Clark, Colin McRae and Richard Burns – the long-standing Peall Trophy dates back to well before the WRC was established in the ’70s.
The large, silvergilt, classical urn-shaped trophy, topped by a royal stag’s head figurine, was produced way back in 1887 by renowned Victorian silver specialists Stephen Smith & Son in London as, by a quirk of fate, was the British Grand Prix trophy.
It was originally presented by the Billiard Association, as the permanent award attached to its highly-prized “All In” Billiards Championship when the competition was inaugurated in 1892. World billiard champion W. J. Peallwon this first event and was never again challenged – thus the golden trophy became his personal property after three years.
As well as being a legend on the billiard table, Peall was also a keen early motorist. Indeed, he was one of the very first to be caught speeding when stopped by the police, near Redhill, in 1901 and fined the princely sum of £2 for driving at a speed in excess of the 12 mph limit.
In 1937, the Peall family donated his splendid cup to Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall. Subsequently the Club redeployed the suitably renamed “Peall Trophy” to be awarded annually to the “Best Performer in Royal Automobile Club International Rally” as the inscription reads. It was first presented to Ian and Pat Appleyard, the victorious husband and wife Jaguar XK120 driving duo in 1953.
Since then, the names engraved on the base’s gold bands have included just about all the rallying greats: Erik Carlsson, Timo Mäkinen, Hanna Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist, Ari Vatanen, Henri Toivonen, Juha Kankkunen, Carlos Sainz, Petter Solberg, Sébastien Loeb and many more of the sport’s top legends.