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

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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!

22
Oct
17

Racetracks I have driven Chapter 2 Calder Park

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Calder Park was opened in 1962, the property was owned by the Pascoe family, the racetrack was opened in 1962. This was just after the sealing of the surface prior to that it was a dirt track! In the photo above you can clearly see the Thunderdome, National and original or club layouts of Calder then the full circuit used linking roads to join the road course to the Thunderdome. That particular layout was rarely used and the main time it was it hosted the World Touring Car Championship

Calder has hosted a massive variety of events and undergone huge changes, since that time. Events hosted there have been, Circuit, Drag, Nascar, Rally cross, Drifting, Car Club events and Quarter Horse Racing. The venue has hosted concerts as well, Fleetwood Mac, Santana at the Rock Arena Shows and Guns and Roses come to mind! Other activities have been driver training, Corporate drive days and functions! During the 1970’s and 1980’s there was a constant evolution and growth of the property and facilities. This link shows an aerial pic of the heyday at  Calder Park Stadium The 70’s and 80’s was a time where Calder hosted the Australian Grand Prix from 1980 to 1984 prior to Adelaide hosting the Adelaide Australian Grand Prix  Niki Lauda RT4

The years of 1981 to 1984 the Australian Grand Prix was held for Formula Pacific cars with invited Formula 1 drivers of the time these included Nikki Lauda, Keke Rosberg, Alain Prost, Alan Jones, Jacques Laffite, plus our own stars John Smith, Alfie Costanzo, John Bowe, Bruce Allison, to name a few

Here are a couple of my own pics from Calder dating back to 1979 in the Cortina Gt

Driving Calder was a challenge it was easy to be quick there but to be fast was very different.  It was rewarding in each of the 4 layouts and each quite different requiring a different approach. The track was extended in 1986 to include the downhill run on the main straight and Mt Jane, then at the same time the Thunderdome work was also progressing.

The original track had a RH U turn about half way down the main straight as it is now, this is a double apex corner that narrowed towards the entry to the back straight. The run up the straight then took you into a sweeping right turn and very quickly into a sharp left turn (this section of the track was noticeably changed with the extension) you then had a short Straight before going into Gloweave which had a concrete wall around it! It needed a wide entry and a brave driver to drive at the wall and turn late to get a late apex to enter the main straight once again! I managed to break the under 2.0 litre Sports Sedan Lap record on this layout but as it was in practice it wasn’t recorded!

The National layout I really enjoyed! It took real commitment to be fast there! The start /finish line was in the same place as before but you had a much longer run into the first corner. Just after the old turn 1 or Repco corner, you start the downhill run and on a windy day if you had a crosswind you would go a little sideways over the drop as the rest of the track was well shielded by the Thunderdome and Grandstands! Just where the hump was to begin the downhill was an open section where there was no wind break and while you were light going over there the wind could blow you off line! This was a fast section of the track and by the time you in the braking zone you were busy pulling it up, at this point my car was pulling 9600rpm and I was on the brakes at 120 metres to be back to first gear for turn one and holding first for the tight and twisty right, left. That lead to Mt Jane which you had to be in 2nd gear before cresting it as you needed to have the car straight going over there and well settled as you got to the crest as it got light over there and would easily be sideways over the hill! Next was the downhill run into the dip which approached the kink in the back straight this is where the original Repco corner was, this section was so fast and you needed to use the curbs my car was in a slide through this section and I would end up using every little bit of the road! We then would approach the very sharp almost more than 90 degree corner! Again the tacho was close to 9600 rpm and at 75 metres the brakes got a big hard push to slow it all to select first gear (1st was 100Kmh) then through the left and into the new Gloweave which was approximately 75 metres before the original which was at that time the pit entry road! the new Gloweave had a tight entry and opened out to a fast and wide exit and you were then on the way to finish the lap!

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The combined circuit as is clearly seen in the photo above the program slide show, was so different to anything we have had or will ever have here in Australia! It was demanding, difficult, and fast! From the start you had a relatively short run to the first corner which was a blind left hander that halfway through dropped down hill to join the Thunderdome. The exit of the corner was off camber, then it was a fast run into the high banking and staying about half way up the banking, it was a case of constant acceleration. This was the case all the way through the tri oval section and finally into the second banked turn. This was where you had to be hard on the brakes to make the sharp uphill left turn! The entry was off camber and then it levelled off at the crest of the hill between the tracks. Then dropped sharply on to the National track, the changes of camber and elevation in the road meant it was very easy to travel most of that distance on two wheels!!

Thunderdome, this was the first oval track built outside of the USA and I can very clearly remember the construction of it which seemed to take for ever, but when it was built the view of it was amazing! Another great memory was seeing Richard Petty testing there before the opening! That was an awesome sight to see the King on an oval alone I feel so privileged to have been there that day!

I only ever ran a HQ on the Thunderdome and it was really quite an experience entering the banking up high almost brushing the concrete walls  at full speed was really very exhilarating! In the banking there was no left and right it was more up and down which really changed the perspective of driving dynamics. From the entry you would then set your course about half way up the banking mid corner and exit right out near the wall. The cornering forces were enough to try to push you through the bottom of the seat! The experience of competing on the ‘Dome’ was fantastic!

Enjoy the slideshow and Videos of the various categories and times through the history of Calder Park

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15
Oct
17

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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04
Oct
17

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)

01
Oct
17

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!

 




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