11
Feb
18

Breakfast Club February 2018

Sunday 11th February was the second breakfast Club of 2018 we were greeted with a cool morning and clear skies. The day quickly warmed up to make it a very comfortable day for coffee and conversation of which there was plenty! We were treated to some interesting and different attendees the first was a teardrop caravan and the second a Group1 Mk2 RS2000!

The Escort was for me probably the pic of the day as it had all the group 1 racing options in it and was just beautiful in presentation and originality! Where as the caravan was very cool and it is amazing how well packaged everything is in these little mobile homes!Classic teardrop Campers manufacture these well made units, that are well worth a look if you are interested in retro or compact camper vans.

The usual selection of Jaguars, BMW’s, Mercedes Benz’s, Lotus, various Classic Motor Bikes, MG’s, were there plus a Simca Vidette, and a group of various Mazda MX-5’s not to mention the local and USA muscle cars including a pink Thunderbird, that was a lot of pale pink!  In earlier days of Breakfast Club, we would get a lot of cars produced in the 1950’s and 1960’s, now, there are less of those and more from the 1980’s and newer! Again the numbers were very good and around the 140 mark which has become the standard which is fantastic and people from across Gippsland and the suburbs of Melbourne

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14
Jan
18

January Breakfast Club 2018

Warragul Breakfast Club enters it’s tenth year in 2018 and it keeps getting bigger and better every year! From humble beginnings of 20 or 30 cars and a few street parking bays it has grown to half the local shopping centre car park and up to 150 cars of almost every make and most models. We have seen many replicas of particular models, rare originals, hot rods and some very unique cars as well! During the path of it’s history many Car Clubs have used it as a destination, halfway point or starting point for club drives and a meeting point for various events!  Such Clubs have been for Vintage and Veteran, Sports, Classic, and individual Marque dedicated Clubs!  This is not only about the cars but it is also a social event, where people of all backgrounds and persuasions come together to discuss their cars or the various ones on display! There are many cafes and coffee shops open to service the attending public as well so the catering is well taken care of!

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January 2018 was not different there was a full carpark with approximately 140 cars and as can be seen in the photos vastly different makes and models were represented! The parking arrangements are not allocated so you can have anything parked next to anything which really makes it easy to look at the displayed cars. We had a cool start to the day but it was clear and developed into a mild and sunny morning. As this was the first time for the year it was good to see people I usually only see at these gatherings! A couple of the more notable or interesting cars from today were these featured below, the Bugatti type 35, a Mini Marcos, and the Austin A90 six complete with overdrive!

 

Sadly cars that will probably no attend again will be the cars owned by Graham Longmore who passed away yesterday 13th January! These include the Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo Gulietta and  DBS, D Type replica and Devaraux shown below.

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12
Jan
18

Racetracks I have driven chapter 4 Oran Park

Oran Park was a very popular racetrack situated South of Sydney just off the Hume highway at Narellan! Like so many other tracks Worldwide it has ceased operation and the land sold for housing! Oran Park was one of the premier tracks in Australia, from February 1962 to January 2010, during this time most of Australia’s premier events were hosted there! The Southern end of the track formed an amphitheatre giving excellent viewing for the spectators making the venue very popular! In fact during the late 1960’s and 1970’s some of the biggest domestic crowd attendances on record! From here in Melbourne it appeared if you came from Sydney and raced you either went to Amaroo Park or Oran Park and few people seemed to be as competitive at both tracks, almost like you needed to specialize in one or another! Oran Park Hosted Motorcycle circuit racing, Motocross, Cars of every description, Go Karts, trucks, corporate days, driver training and everything on wheels! it was busy and flourished for most of its time.

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My experience at Oran park was very limited and I only managed one day there and only the South Circuit unfortunately! It was to be my first race meeting there but as happens at times it was not to be! The trip from Melbourne was good after doing a slow familiarization set of laps and trying to work out where the track went I discovered the adjusting bolt for the brake bias valve had loosened and dropped out of the valve! After a long time looking for it with the help of the office staff we went to a machine shop to have a replacement made for it. Finally after fitting the replacement and making basic adjustments it was time to resume the learning process. Three sessions into the day and the engine ran a bearing, we had travelled 12 hours overnight and then had nothing but trouble, the important thing was I had driven the South Circuit and in a short time was close to competitive!

Above you can see the entry to the Circuit as it was the dirt road leading up the hill to the entry gate and the control tower and offices in the hacienda style building! The remaining pics show the swooping corners and undulating nature of the track! The last is that slightly off camber right hander on to the main straight! This was a great corner and to be fast you needed to run close to the wall on the exit, as seen by the tyre marks all over it! There were similarities with the corner onto the main straight at Amaroo Park except Oran’s corner was faster, which, sadly, both are  Housing Estates these days!

As described earlier I only did a few laps on a single day at Oran Park and due to one thing or another I never got back there unfortunately! I had just started to settle into the flow of the track then we ran a bearing!

The start line or grid there was downhill which made the start tricky it also helped build speed and made the braking interesting at times as well! The South Circuit used the shortened main straight and was considerably shorter than the long tracks straight as can be seen in the diagrams above. The turn off the main straight was a left hand u turn where it re-joined the full circuit, followed closely by a 90 degree right hand and a flowing left, then left again these corners were opening out each time and the road surface undulating giving the impression of a roller coaster type ride. This section was almost blind on the approach and required a lot of faith in the flag marshals to give an indication of what may lay ahead! Next was the esses which was difficult to see the entry as you came out of the dip and started the climb back to the main straight! This climb back to the straight was tight but flowing and allowed for you to build speed along the way and was faster than it initially looked! That uphill off camber corner onto the straight also lead to the pit entry road. To say it was off camber is probably not entirely correct as it was mainly the corner exit that flattened off after the corner entry and much of it was nicely cambered, this helped you go closer to the wall! That corner was critical for a good lap, as was the back of the track through the undulations and the tighter sections of the track!

It was very technical and demanding, requiring a lot of commitment and confidence in your approach to it! I managed to do a 48.6 sec lap there still finding my way and from memory, the times to do at the time were high 46 seconds so I was happy with that given the short time I had there. One thing that really did surprise me about Oran Park was just how blind it was and how good it was, it was such a shame I didn’t return to discover the real potential the Escort still had to be unlocked there! While the trip there and back from Melbourne was long and the track time short it was a really good weekend if not disappointing

 

27
Dec
17

Christmas 2017

Well Christmas 2017 has been and gone and the year has all but vanished! As is quickly becoming the tradition we all met at Changz Canteen and thanks to Tom we had the big Christmas cook up!

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This started last year on Christmas eve but this year it was decided to do it on 23rd December! We were all much more organised and everything went smoothly. Tom then had the opportunity to get the deserts organised on Christmas Eve! He has really brought us all together far more, in making this possible, what a fun day it is!

Christmas day 3 of us went to Changz to collect the food and Tom then over to Andrew and Rita’s newly renovated home. There was about 30 of us who assembled there family and some friends of family across the day there were people coming and going! One thing that is very good to see is the next generation is keen to keep this going in the future and include an Easter get together as well as had been done by the generation before!  It would be so good to see that happen!

04
Dec
17

356 Parade 2017

This was the first 356 Parade I had attended for some time, and the first that I know of held on a Saturday! The forecast State wide was for rain and plenty of it, we had become used to 30 degree days for the previous 10 days, which just had to come to an end for the Parade! In fact across Victoria there had been many events cancelled due to the expected weather! It was fortunate the majority of the weather by-passed Melbourne and Como Park which was not completely covered in mud, the rain was steady but never got really heavy, thankfully!

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The threat of floods and storms kept the numbers down to 40 356’s and 8 early 911’s, previous years had seen 190 356’s of all types and conditions and 30 or so early 911’s! So numbers were well down but the enthusiastic owners still came from all over Victoria and interstate!  There were some real gems that came out on the day including coupes, cabriolets, and speedsters as well as unique one off cars!

This is a 356 B originally built by John Gregory, founder of Spyder Automobiles as attribute to the 356 Carrera Abarth Carrera Abarth this particular one has a 2.0 litre 911S 6 cylinder fitted instead of the quad cam 4 cylinder engine! It now lives in South Australia  with an old friend of our family!

Overall the day was very good if not wet and the cars were well presented and as always good to look at and talk with the owners and people attending. It was good to see friends I rarely get to see other than at these events! The standard of cars was better than ever and those who made the effort had a very enjoyable time. I am looking forward to the next event which apart from Breakfast Club in Warragul will be the Phiillip Island Historic Races in March!

11
Nov
17

Sandown Historic Races 2017

It has been some time since I had been to a race meeting of any kind at Sandown to spectate in fact the last time was 2014, again, for the Historic Races! This was a really great day filled with fantastic cars, old friends and competitors. After my visit to Sandown a few weeks ago it was good to get back there to watch and see what people do and approach the circuit! I must admit there were times that I cringed to see how incredibly cautious some of the drivers were!

There were 12 x F5000’s, a March73S that was an ex Niki Lauda / Jody Scheckter car, plenty of Sports cars and open wheelers and of course the Touring cars! John Bowe was kept busy having a drive of a F1 March and a Matich F5000 in consecutive races!

I had a lot of my time there Looking at the displays, talking to many old friends and seeing the quality of and interesting cars both on display and in the car park! These days always  bring out interesting cars and people!   It never ceases to amaze me at the level of presentation with the competing cars in all the categories it is a joy to see and hear these cars in such a great condition! Saturday which is the only day I will be able to attend unfortunately was mainly a day of practice testing and qualifying with the majority of races Sunday.

 

07
Nov
17

Racetracks I have driven Chapter 3 Hume Weir

hum-circ-air

I had always heard of the Hume Weir Circuit and was very aware of the racing held there as well as the people who had raced there! The Weir (as it was, known) was host to most of the Australian National Championships in cars and bikes. It was located just out of Albury on the border of Victoria and New South Wales at the Hume Weir, the site was a disused quarry, which was a left over from the construction of the Hume Weir. The Hume Weir, or Lake Hume, is a water reservoir near the beginning of the Murray River and construction took place, between 1919 and 1931.
The circuit originally opened in November 1959. At that time, it was unsealed and had a length of 1.26 Km. It was, used for a short time in that form and in 1960. It was then sealed, and extended to 1.6 Km, one of the highlight meeting there each year was the Boxing Day Meeting! The final open race meeting was held there on March 27, 1 977, the final outright lap record was established on June 15 1975 by Alfredo (Alfie) Costanzo in a Formula 2 car. After its closure to open race meetings, the Weir was, then used for rally stages, and some club events up to the mid 1980’s!

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The above pic is going into Scrub Corner you can clearly see how tight it was and the phone box!

My one and only visit to Hume Weir was exciting as I knew it would be probably the last time it would be available for club sprints or anything much at all for that matter and time would prove that to be correct! At the time, I was a member of the Ford Four Car Club, which at the time was one of the bigger Car Clubs in Melbourne! As a club, though their focus was mainly on Rally rather than Racing!

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The Hume Weir circuit at that time, about 1984 or 1985 was still relatively intact even if the infrastructure was not in great condition it was still there! The track surface again was intact but it had weeds growing through it, the track edges were breaking up and it had the appearance of being once loved, then abandoned! There was a feeling of history and almost sadness, looking around the property seeing the surrounds and knowing we would be some of the last to breathe some life into the place! Walking around the track seeing its features like Scrub corner, the wall between the front and back straight, the telephone box, the Lukey Mufflers sign across the track. This brought back memories of the articles I had read and the photos I had seen and stories I had heard of this great little and challenging track.

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Driving impressions, well the lap distance was about the same length as the original Calder Park except the Weir was tighter at each end and far less forgiving! The pit area was Located inside the track and the start, finish line was between the pit area and the road. From the start you had a long run into the first corner or a tightening curve this lead into a very tight corner which was probably the slowest corner on a racetrack in the country, called Scrub corner it was very appropriately named as you disappeared into the scrub/ bush and did a right hand U turn! Exiting Scrub corner you faced a sweeping left hand corner that opened out onto the back straight, which had a long curve in the second half of it! This was where the concrete wall divided the two straights on the track and it was possible to see the cars on that part of it as you went in opposite directions! Also in this section is where the Lukey Mufflers sign crossed the track between the walls of the quarry! So that whole area was quite confined in some ways or at least gave that feeling! This section lead into the loop, which was quite deceiving in that you had the impression you, could brake much later than was really possible, particularly at that time! I proved that later in the day by actually out braking myself and ended up going into the shallow dam in a friend’s car I was trusted with for the day, Alan was in the passenger’s seat with me! Thanks and sorry again Alan Sornig! The loop was a lot of fun when successfully negotiated and it led to the esses which was a medium speed set of corners again fun and fast when taken correctly! Then the next lap was under way and through that tightening curve again and into Scrub which as with most of the rest of the Weir had little or no runoff areas this was the way, it was at the time though! I clearly remember the trees and bush right on the edge of the track and even tree trunks on the edge of the bitumen! I thoroughly enjoyed the day we had there or at least most of it! To me it was a great little track to drive that was a challenge and rewarding as well as technical!




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