Motorclassica 2017

Here in Melbourne we are very lucky to have such amazing architecture, historic buildings and motoring history and culture. This weekend was the seventh edition of  Motorclassica, this amazing event all of which have been held at the Melbourne Exhibition Building   which has an amazing history it self! I went to the inaugural show in 2010 but for a number of reasons have not been able to return until this year! Since my previous visit this event has grown and matured to a very high standard of car quality and presentation. For me these events are a good opportunity to see old friends and this was no exception!

As can be seen Motorclassica now extends to the outside courtyard as well as the main building and related events across Melbourne. The actual building is worth visiting alone for its history, architecture and ornate decoration it is no wonder it has World Heritage listing!

There were cars of all eras and types including prototypes and concept cars from the 1970’s. The two very notable were from Holden being the Hurricane and Torana GTR-X

Other features of the Motorclassica were interviews with Motorsport legends Allan Moffat, John Harvey, Colin Bond and Jim Richards as well as other motor industry personalities. The Saturday evening auction is always a highlight and this year there were some very interesting cars, motorcycles and scale models and various items offered, the highlight was the Jaguar D Type!

This year was also a celebration of the 70 years of Ferrari! There were some very rare and valuable models to see, from Daytonas, F40’s, F50’s(Enzos), 264 Dinos, and nearly every model produced through the past 70 years! The film that was running traced Enzo and the Ferrari Marque’s history. It featured all the Grand Prix cars and drivers it was so good to walk through this rich history!

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There were so many amazing cars and displays to be seen it is hard to comment fairly on each but some of them were the partially restored E Type Jaguar which was just beyond belief, the various Lamboghinis, Aston Martins, Lancias, Alfa Romeos, even a Monteverdi they were just fabulous! It was a kid in a lolly shop situation in many ways everywhere you looked was something special. Upstairs there was a display of historic Speedway cars, a 250F Maserati originally driven by Sir Stirling Moss! I will let the following pictures tell the story!

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Race tracks I’ve driven chapter 1 Sandown Park

To start this off I think I should briefly go through a bit of my history. Some of you will know parts of it others not! Some will have raced against me and others seen me race. I started my motorsport journey with 2 Mk1 Cortina GT’s, I bought in partnership with a school mate, Michael Ballantyne. Together we learnt a lot and at the age of 19 there was a lot to learn, we joined the Ford Four Car Club which at the time was one of the biggest clubs in Victoria. The first 2 years was club sprints and hillclimbs! I had begun my apprenticeship as a motor mechanic at Stillwell Ford in Kew, as a result of that I met some amazing people. Some of them went onto do great things, more of that at a later time.

My first personal exposure to Sandown was in 1969 at the Tasman Cup race to see Graeme Lawrence win in the Ferrari Dino. Then in the next 10 years I had been to spectate many times. It was the December of 1979 and the final round of the Australian sports Sedan Championship before I got to compete on the original layout and in my opinion by far the best! See here for  the different versions of this iconic track! For me it was a Baptism of fire as during the final going across the fast and narrow causeway I spun and hit the fence creating a road block for the stars of the class of the day! Some of them were Bob Jane, John Briggs, Brian Thomson to name a few. After this I was totally determined to return and master this very rewarding but scary track that constantly reminded you it will bite you if you do not respect it! Since then I learned to respect every track in the manner it deserves! This is partly why I never had a bad accident but was competitive in what ever category I competed.

The original layout …. Wow that is all I can say, it was fast, sweeping, flowing and unforgiving, but super rewarding when it was done right!

The start line was and still is in front of the partially enclosed grandstand, to see or make a start there is spectacular and special!  The bitumen runs around the outside of the horse racing track so there is all the colour of the gardens. After the start you have a long run into the first corner, known as Shell, the sign across the track was not greatly wider than the track this closed your vision on the approach to the corner! To the left was the pit entry road a narrow entrance to a narrow pit lane, the pit counter was timber with a tin roof at the end of the counter you would turn left to enter the paddock. Paddock was a good description of it too when it rained, half of it flooded and the rest just got very wet! This was fairly typical of racetracks of the time! After negotiating Repco there was the short pit straight, which the entry to, narrowed as you exited Repco the straight was ever so slightly downhill for the first part then levelled and rose quickly to enter peter’s corner the entry to the back straight which was and still is greater than 90 degrees and is the slowest corner on the track! to exit there well it was important to go in deep and get a late apex to the corner using as much curb as you were brave enough to do! The run off area on pit straight was about 15 metres before you hit the Armco fence and there was grass between the bitumen and fence! At Peters later known as Torana, there was merely inches of runoff so commitment and accuracy were vital! Peter’s lead onto this long back straight that still has a bend in it as you are about to climb the hill to what was always known as Marlboro Country! Marlboro is a very fast and blind section of the course, most people will brake on the approach to it those of us silly or brave enough crest the hill and then brake on the decent, and keep the brakes on down the hill through the esses and into Dandenong rd corner this has long been a favourite of mine! Done right you go down there with the tail sliding from curb to curb using the ripple strips at Dandenong rd! From there you would go through a slight right hand bend which led into the causeway which was a bridge over the creek that had the Armco at the edge of the road with absolutely no where to go! The Causeway over the years claimed many cars and there were many injuries sustained there as well! The Causeway was the fast entry to the Main Straight and back to the start / finish line! This version of Sandown was used from 1962 until February 1984 I was fortunate enough to raced on the final meeting on this wonderful but unforgiving place and learnt a lot about myself and driving there!

There have been many special events held at Sandown and this is one of the absolute best Fangio and Brabham it was an amazing sight!

The original Sandown was host to some amazing races and people, jack Brabham, Fangio, Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Piers Courage, Bruce McLaren, Leo Geoghegan, Kevin Bartlett, John Harvey, Frank Matich, John Surtees, Chris Amon, Graeme Lawrence, Bib Stillwell, just to name a few! The teams that came here in the days of the Tasman Cup Races were, Brabham, Lotus, BRM, Ferrari Cooper all the F1 teams, plus the local teams


Sandown and the World Endurance Championship. There were two WEC rounds held at Sandown the first was in 1984, then 1989 on the new extended track. This newer version was the full Grand Prix length track and was similar but oh so different. The changes made Sandown so much safer and longer, there was a new pit area with proper garages, a medical centre and far better facilities.

The old Shell corner was moved closer to the start line and the old pit straight was moved away from the fence and ran through the old paddock area leading into the Torana corner which now has a very tight set of right then left corners leading into the old Peter’s / Torana corner. the back straight was shortened and on the crest of the hill a right hand U turn added that crossed the horse track! There was a short straight and slightly down hill run into a sharp down hill U turn which was quite fun! this then went through a left curve which fed into a sharp right and weaved its way into a modified but similar Dandenong rd corner! The exit of Dandenong rd is still very similar to the original that leads to a slight right bend and then a sharp right left that replaced the causeway onto the straight which is also the pit entry. Originally in 1984 there was the working, transit and fast lanes in the pits since then though the fast lane has a 40Kmh speed limit but then there was no speed limit!! See here for the WEC races of 1984 the entries  made one of the best race fields seen here!

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The now current version of Sandown has the best parts of the two previous versions, in that the downhill run off  the back straight is  direct into Dandenong corner and the infield section has gone! This is a compromise of the earlier versions and is good fun as the high speed esses have returned and so too has the challenge of the old circuit! To me the original was and will always be the best but the current is also good with the fast run over the hill and the fast run into Dandenong rd corner

I have been very fortunate to have driven on each of the Sandown layouts and I see it as a huge privilege to have done so. Those of you who have will understand it! I recently had the opportunity to return there with my road car and took Billy for a few laps and showed him how it is done and what the track is like from the inside!

Here is a race from September 1988 I was in in the Whitehorse Truck Parts Sports Sedan Championship! I also had the honour to drive a first intervention vehicle at the 1984 WEC race (I was the driver for a Doctors car on track)


Reminiscing about old friends, Sandown Park

I have thought about writing about the racetracks I have driven, so this will be a prelude to those and Sandown will be the first! My inspiration for starting with Sandown is for my Birthday ( which is next week) Tom, Charlotte and Billy bought me an entry to a drive day/ sprint event at Sandown. I hadn’t driven here since about 2000 maybe 2001? I have been very keen to drive there again as the plans or rumours are that it has a short life before it is sold for housing. This to me is terribly sad, as it is to many who have competed there or spectated alike!

Today was run by Vivid Motorsport who did a very good job given they had some incidents and a couple small hick ups! The way these events are run and organised has changed so much since I begun in motorsport, it used to be that you joined a Car Club and did that Clubs events and the events they were invited to. Now individual bodies are running events as a business venture!

We had an early start to the day arriving at Sandown at about 7.30 am even after the drive to Springvale I was not really awake! After booking in and the usual scrutiny checks we were ready to start. I was in a group that my car was out classed by nearly all others, I am sure the 325i has done more Kms than almost every other so as usual it was a case of do what I could! As it had been so long since either being at Sandown or even driving on a racetrack it was a case of building up to it. After 1 session of 10 mins it almost all came back to me, however going over the top of the hill at the end of the back straight took some time to do it like I used to, flat out! Or at least until you start to go down the hill at the access road! My first couple of laps were a bit emotional such was the connection I have with this track! She is a bit like an old girlfriend a love, hate thing! Over the day we became good friends again and respect was found and the joy of it was so good! One of the great things during the day was they had passenger sessions and the last one Billy was lucky enough to borrow a helmet so he could do that session in the passengers seat with me! He had never been on a racetrack with me Tom had been around Winton with me many years ago so he was keen to hear Billy’s comments which echoed Tom’s from his time on track! Yes I was trying look at the tyre pic below!



Breakfast Club September 2017

This year has just vanished on us and I struggle to accept we are into September already!

Today was the September edition of Warragul Breakfast Club and we were greeted with a cool and damp morning! After the week we had It was really very good to not freeze or be rained on, in fact it was quite bearable if not cool! This certainly didn’t distract the enthusiastic crowd of owners and spectators that graced the Woolworths car park in total there would have been about 120 cars over the duration of the morning! As usual there was the usual variety there as can be seen, some rare or unusual, some not! The conversation, stories and coffee flowed very well, keeping most well entertained! One thing that never surprises me is the variety, condition, and numbers of cars both new visitors and old. For a change though today there was a lack of vintage cars which normally are represented well here.

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Four years of Billy’s Karting

This month is 4 years since Billy started his journey into the world of Motor Sport.   In that time he has learnt a lot and grown in so many ways! It has been a great experience for him, and has given me the opportunity to have further involvement, in this crazy but wonderful sport! The sport of thinking as quoted by BMW years ago!

See the fantastic collage and time line here Billy’s four years of Karting this was compiled by LLS Webs as usual Lorena did an awesome job!

Together we have had so much fun and disappointment but in all a great time! We have raced together this returned me to racing even if it was for a short time, I just don’t get the time or opportunity these days!

Looking forward to the future events we hope to increase his competitiveness and generally be able to compete at a high standard and level! Billy has a good ability, but sadly the same problem I had, a lack of funding which is so often the case! I am sure he will do as much as he can, as well as he can!

If anyone reading this would be in the position to support Billy’s racing efforts we have a great record of promoting our Partners through Spyder Racing, the newsletter Spyder Racing Newsletter the Facebook Site. If you like even subscribe to the newsletter and got your own copy direct off the press! We can also be contacted here Spyder Racing email


Swan Hill, the trip from Hell!

Well the trip to Swan Hill was to be a big weekend which ever way you looked at it. This was the first time Billy had competed there so it was an adventure to look forward to! Well adventure it was, but not in the way were expected or anyone could have!


It all started on the Thursday night when the trailer was  packed and we were parking it for the night. While turning it around in the street I got bogged in the Amorok with the trailer behind, Billy had to tow me out with his car!

I set the alarm for just after 5.00 am and try to wake Billy up, this proved to be mission impossible, almost 2 hours later we were on the road! The trip to Heathcote was not bad at all, a little windy but ok we had stopped for a coffee just before that and were ready to see out the distance to Swan Hill! The adventure was just beginning though! Leaving Heathcote we decided to travel along the Northern Highway then head west further North! Well we found there was a cross wind coming almost straight at us most of the way, making hard work of driving, then Mr Google maps decided we needed to discover every one lane road and dirt road that criss-crosses  the top of Victoria! Not happy Mr Google!

So eventually we get to Kerang where we decided to have lunch this was at about 1.30 pm so we had been on the road and fighting the conditions and terrain for 5 hours or more already! As we had another hour or so to get to Swan Hill we were already well behind our plan for the day! As we approached Lake Charm the engine warning light comes on and we go into limp mode, not a huge issue as it resets when the ignition is switched off then back on! We stopped at a friends business to try to find the issue but had to continue on just before we get to Swan Hill on it goes again!! so stop and start yet again! We arrive at the  Swan Hill Go Kart Club  which is an amazing facility for not only Go Karts but trail bikes and a full speedway and we didn’t see it but a Drag Strip of International standard! The wind was still blowing madly as we were getting set up so we held off setting up the marquee until the wind dropped or should I say pretended to drop, just as we started to set up the wind arrived again so we had to release the canopy to save the frame! After giving up on the idea of camping the night I rang my friend from Lake Charm and we stayed with Rodney and Mandy! On the way to Lake Charm, Billy decided Burgers was the food of choice for dinner, so we looked up the local spot and went for burgers, parking just around the corner of the intersection, far enough away to be the last full car spot! After a short discussion we decide fish and chips might be a better option so we reverse back to drive away and bang! A smaller car had parked right in the centre of the Amorok out of sight!  The adventures continues!

The trip to Lake Charm is a quiet and almost deserted road at night but well used, as we approach Lake Charm suddenly from the opposite direction come the flashing lights, we had been driving along fairly quietly but just passed another car, yes, you guessed, 112 Kmh in a 100Kmh zone!  We had a really great night with Rodney and Mandy in their lovely home on the edge of the Lake and an uneventful trip back to the track! We had the most spectacular sunrise to welcome us too!20915464_1586583328081120_2229810739702323294_n

Saturday started ok in that we got the marquee set up and the practice/carby session went without problem, almost, the transponder for the official timing system was still in the trailer! After having to go through the process of asking permission to compete everything was ok for qualifying except Billy had a shortfall in funds and couldn’t get a new set of tyres! This considered he did well to be close to the pace set by the 2 guys on the front row of the grid! He qualified 4th! The race order had us last on the running order,  heat 2 was going well and Billy made a good start until mid race where he was driven into and over! The resultant damage was not so severe but costly, after the temporary repairs were done it was time for heat 3 which was problem free! It was about then I discovered I had left the lights on most of the day and yes we had a flat battery!  After sorting out the battery,  we went into Swan Hill to get some food and drinks etc for the night and set to cooking back at the trailer. I have an airbed for my tent and inflate it with  the compressor which is ok but we had the generator running as well which drowns out the compressor which doesn’t have a safety switch! Yes we had a huge explosion of the reserve tanks which ended up into about a million pieces! It was so loud I thought the gas bottle blew up, it was then time for bed after a bit of a clean up!

Sunday was a simple and uncomplicated one, we ran the remaining races, Billy finished 5th overall for the weekend and we had a very easy run home electing not to retrace our path from Friday!



Light Car Club of Australia Reunion July 2017

This was a reunion for members, competitors, volunteers, and friends of the Light Car Club and Sandown International Raceway. The attendance was very good and beyond the initial expectation to the point of having to book a larger room! There was a large table in the middle of the room, filled with memorabilia of all sorts, but mainly programs and magazines. Then on a multitude of screens around the room were videos and slideshows playing throughout the afternoon. It was so good to see some of the old videos and photos of racing and rallying that spanned the 60 year life of the club! There was even video of the original circuit being made in 1962, then the WEC or GP Circuit upgrade in 1984.   Apart from racing the Light Car Club ran some of the biggest and highest profile Rallies in Australia during that time!

For me it was great to see a lot of people from the late 1970’s and 1980’s when I competed there beginning in 1979. My time spent there was, in the main good, even if my maiden meeting destroyed my first race car. That was a Cortina Mk1 GT, how I wish I had that now! I have so many great memories of Sandown and the meetings at the Club Rooms in Roy st  South Melbourne. For me the day the extension was started to build the Grand Prix standard track was bitter sweet. Here is some history of Sandown and more see the different Layouts  used at Sandown.

The original track was unforgiving but very rewarding if you got it right, get it wrong and it would bite you hard! That was where the Tasman series was run here in Melbourne,  with a competitors list  including Graham Hill, Jim Clarke, Jackie Stewart, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham, Chris Amon along with all our stars at the time such as Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, Frank Gardner, Spencer Martin, Leo Geoghegan, John Harvey and on the list goes! This was a series of the who’s who of the time! Here is a link to the first Tasman Series in 1964 with links to following years Tasman Series.

The people in attendance included many officials and competitors from racing and rallying, some nation champions and some who spent many years competing at that level! Russell Stuckey has been a Dunlop tyre supplier for what seems like ever, he told me 45 years which is a lifetime! Many other very interesting people like Bob Watson, Rohan Harman, Ron Simmonds and Angus Black and so many more were there to make the day what is was. Finally a huge thanks to David and Margaret Hardy who during the years I competed at Sandown were the administration of the Club, they also organised the day!  Only a couple of the photos were mine other were taken by either Ron Simmonds or the incomparable Ian Smith who has been photographing Motor Racing for as long as most of us can remember! Thank you all for a fantastic afternoon!



October 2017
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