14
Jul
19

Breakfast Club July 2019

 

This was the first Breakfast Club I have been to in quite some time and what a day to attend! The winter wind Gods were out in force along with some rain and very chilly temperatures therefore the diehard Breakfast Clubbers were the only ones in attendance! Having said that there was about 40 cars and their associated people either with the cars or chasing some heat or hot drinks in close-by cafe’s!

I took a clients car, a 1986 3.2 Carrera, which is available for sale to make it public. It is a good solid car that drives well and has cruise control, custom front spoiler and 17″fuchs replica wheels.

There were some interesting cars there as well such as the Fiat X-19 race car, the JPS 635 CSI replica a very nice XW Falcon station wagon! Hopefully next time will be in better conditions and we will have more to see!

 

12
Jun
19

Racetracks I have driven Chapter 6 Amaroo Park

Amaroo Park was or is situated at Annangrove 45 min northeast of Sydney as with Oran Park it is now a housing estate! These two circuits were the mainstay of Motorsport in New South Wales and particularly the greater Sydney area for almost 40 years. Amaroo was probably the first Australian racetrack to have an industrial park or estate attached to it, it was built in an area similar to a quarry in that you entered the main gate and passed the offices and went down the steep driveway to the pit area and track

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The Amaroo complex had many different uses as a racetrack, the road course which was 1.2 miles or 1.9 kms long, the original site, which was a Hillclimb, a short circuit dirt track, a flat track dirt speedway, a motocross track then finally in February 1967 the sealed circuit mentioned was opened! A history of the track is available here Amaroo Park History  The bitumen track of 1.9 kms is what I drove during the 1980’s. It was an awesome place that had no runoff areas to speak of, it was unforgiving, scary and incredibly rewarding when driven correctly!

 

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During the 1980’s Amaroo Park was a hub of activity and the club that ran and promoted it was the Australian Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) the same that ran the Bathurst 1000. If you intended competing at the Bathurst 1000 you almost had to run at Amaroo Park to show what you could do! Times were very different to now, where to compete at Bathurst the only way to do that was to secure a drive in the 1000 kms race itself, in recent years there are many more race meetings there and many more categories again racing at the hallowed Mountain! There have been a few occasions in recent years where people have said to me about having the opportunity to compete at Bathurst and how it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, well yes it probably was and for many still is but compared to how it was, these days it is just a matter of committing to go up there! Then you had to prove yourself then get the invitation to co-drive with someone or buy a drive either with a team or in your own car, either way it would be in the 1000 Km endurance race!
For me Amaroo was like Winton, it was tight and twisty with fast sections, technically demanding but it also went up and down hill! My first few laps I clearly remember it being daunting, thrilling and a total sense of excitement, it was my first interstate race meeting!! I had spoken to many friends who had raced there and watched many telecasts from there as well, but it barely prepared me for what I discovered at Amaroo Park.

 

My driving impressions……..
To enter the track, you would enter from near the control tower which was located above pitlane which led directly onto the uphill straight, almost on the bend at the beginning of Bitupave hill! Bitupave Hill was a steep climb with a right hand sweeping curve that was taken flat out this led to the blind LH sweeper at the crest of the hill which was taken in my car almost flat in 4th gear drifting with the inside front wheel off the ground and the rear wheel barely contacting the road surface! The moment you had the car settled it was hard on the brakes and back to 2nd gear for the sharp downhill RH bend, this section was very bad in the late afternoon as the sun would be just at the crest making your approach almost totally blind! The sharp right hander opened out into a downhill righthand sweeper that was almost straight which led into Honda which was a fast slightly downhill sweeper the was taken flat and using all the road including the ripple strip on the exit. Continuing the downhill run until the road almost levelled off where you had a very sharp LH hairpin using all the road it was a matter of just touch the curb on the inside and run right out to the ripple strip on the outside. From here you made you way to the left side of the track to enter one of the few places where you could pass under brakes into the stop / go corner this was a very exciting corner as you would be driving directly into a concrete wall, the track was quite flat on the approach and favorably cambered on the very entrance, mid corner though it went to off camber and tried to send you into the wall!! A short straight followed where, you ran along the wall to the pit entry which was almost where you needed to turn into the next and final corner. The camber on the road was flat with a tall curb on the inside, which you needed to use to straighten the corner as you turned into the main straight! The key to this corner was to exit it, parallel to the Armco barrier separating the track from pit lane, when executed correctly you would almost brush the fence, but as you got closer to it you could feel a cushion of air buffet you away! Back onto the main straight it was keep changing gears and hold it flat to the top of the hill. On a flying lap going through the uphill sweeper it felt like you bottomed out the seat as you were pushed down hard into it!! Amaroo was fast or at least for it’s length, demanding , rewarding and finally unforgiving! Have a look at these videos to get a better idea of the track or relive memories!

John Surtees on 2 wheels at Amaroo Park

1985 Amscar series

1988 Amaroo P1988 Amaroo Park Triple header

 

Amaroo Park had been host to every form of racing from motorcycles and cars of every category that raced domestically in Australia, Historic race meetings were a regular feature attracting such famous people as Sir Stirling Moss and Mike Hailwood both pictured, Sterling in the garage immediately above and Mike Hailwood on his bike further up the page. It was the home of the home of the Castrol 6 hour bike race also the 300 Km touring car race and so much more!

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15
May
19

Racetracks I have Driven chapter 5 Winton

Winton ArialDuring the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s most of my weekends were spent at Winton Raceway just north of Benalla and Calder Park! During 1977 I began my Motorsport life through the Ford Four Car Club competing in Club Sprints and being involved with John Faulkner and David Cannon with their touring cars. I managed to get my general competition licence in 1978 at the Rose City 10000 meeting, this was the second attempt at it. Here are a few pics of my time at Winton, these represent 1981 to 1990 when the 24 hour presentation pic was taken!

 

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Winton has been in consistent operation now since  December 1957, the circuit has changed so much since that time and has massive history, from the original layout which is now known as the Club Circuit to the currently used layout above.  Click here to compare the 3 different layouts . Winton has hosted a range of Australian Championships from bikes to cars of all sorts. National and International Champions, and even F1 World Champions James Hunt and Alan Jones. James Hunt came to Winton as reigning World Champion in 1978 for the Rose City 10000 meeting where he drove a F5000 from the Elfin team and dominated the weekend! Alan Jones drove Touring and Sports Sedans (GT Cars) at Winton after leaving F1!

 

 

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                                                         Driving Winton Short Circuit

Winton was always a favorite of mine and as most of my time there has been spent on the original layout, that is my pick of the 2 distinctive layouts! The original circuit had the dummy grid situated on a downhill, leading onto the track where you turned left to enter it, and immediately you were on the main grid! Once entering the track you would complete your warm up lap and return to the main grid, located just after the esses. At the start you had a very short run into the first corner it was about 150 metres. I always liked starting on the inside of the grid as it gave you the option of a very inside line, there were many times I went down the grass into the first corner, particularly if I got a good start! From there you had another very short straight into turn 2 which when you used the kerb was almost slightly banked but in order to get through there fast you needed to use the kerb on the inside with a late apex and slide out to the ripple strip on the exit. Staying on the left side of the middle of the road, on the entry to the left handed sweeper which was a fast sweeping left followed by a slight right kink just at the exit, this meant the 2 corners had to be taken almost as one! The sweeper was taken at about 95 mph and the right hand kink was not much slower but you needed to slide from the apex of the kink out to a little over half way out to the left to get a good run into the tight RH tank corner, which is a sharp and much slower U turn that is tight on the way in and opens out on the exit! This part of the track is known as the cleavage, after tank you go into a left hand U turn entering it from half way across the road and getting a late apex this is typical of Winton it is all about quite late apexes! Next is a sharp RH hander leading onto the back straight this is critical to get a good line here or you will be slow at the other end of the straight! The way through is enter it from half way across the road get on the power early, get a late apex and use every little bit of the road including the ripple strip on the far left and even the dirt at times! The back straight is a good length and you can have the only real break on the track while driving, at the end of the straight there is the esses where you have to make the car flow through and be very economical with your input from the steering! The esses flow very well and if your car works well you can almost set your course with the steering and steer with your right foot though here! The exit is taken by again using every last bit of bitumen and at times some dirt at the end of the kerb! This can be a very hazardous section as in the late afternoon particularly, as  the sun is in your eyes and visibility is very bad! That was like the visibility through the sweeper at sun rise, during the 24 hour races held at Winton, that was not at all good!!

The short track at Winton is mainly used these days for the Historic races held at the circuit each year.

 

Winton Long Circuit

I wont go through the whole circuit again but continue from the entry of the back straight. As with the short circuit you use all the road including the ripple strip and instead of staying to the left of the track you make your way across to the right of centre of track for the braking area at about 200 metres from the Rh entry to the old esses. This sets you up for the entry to the tricky LH corner onto the extension of the track, which is more than a 90 degree corner and probably close to 110 degrees! It is very easy to run wide here, and something that must be avoided while using all the track again you need to make your way to the left side of the track as you approach the next and very tricky double RH corner which are just a little more than 90 degree again classic lines and smooth, accurate driving is what it is all about, These corners bring you to the new grid and past the pit counter, as you pass the grid you need to make sure you are on the RH side of the track in preparation to entering the esses from the short track! The entry to the esses is a little tricky, as the track drops away a little on the entry to the braking zone and the approach speed is much more than the old entry to the esses, but the contour and characteristic of the track at that point is the same as before! Once through the esses you go past the old pit area and grid to start the next lap!

Winton has always been about a good handling car with good power that is driven technically well, accurately and smoothly! It is a real test of a driver, and a great place to learn and test! In many ways similar to Amaroo Park without the hills, both awesome places to drive!

Winton has always hosted a variety of racing from Cars, trucks, Historic, motor cycles both modern and historic, rallycross, drags, drifting, almost every style of motorsport you can imagine! It is a complete motorsport complex that caters for every level of competition from basic club sprints up to National Championships

05
May
19

Easter in Hobart

It had been a long time since going away for more than 2 days at a time and just as long since I had flown! I had never been to Hobart before the closest I had been was Symmons Plains Raceway near Launceston but that was in 1986. During that visit there was not much sight seeing done at all! Lorena and I booked an Airbnb for Easter and had a lot planned to do and places to visit we managed most but not all.

 

 

Our home for the time was interesting as it was a straw bale construction which had been rendered giving it an interesting look form outside but it was very comfortable inside as can be seen! The location was at Cremorne about 20 mins from Hobart a quiet coastal village and a very easy trip to Hobart. Arriving Thursday afternoon  we collected the hire car and set off on our adventure! First stop was to find the house then go shopping and finally settle in for the night!

Day 1 Good Friday

The intention was to go to Wineglass Bay on day 1 but sleeping in put a stop on that as it is 3 hours north! So instead it was off to Mt Wellington and Hobart, Mt wellington being the first stop what a fabulous place, it is so quiet, flat on top and the views are amazing! We had a coffee and cake at the Springs on the way down from the summit and then to Hobart and Salamanca we missed the market but even so it is a wonderful area to visit. Exploring the docks we found a fantastic Asian Restaurant where we ate a couple of times each time was outside with amazing views of the foreshore.

 

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Day 2 Saturday

This was the day to venture north to Wineglass Bay it is a 3 hour drive which roughly follows the coast sometimes very close to the water and at others inland. It is a good drive mainly easy going through a variety of scenery. Finally arriving at the visitors centre we discover the entire area is filled with walking tracks and camp sites. The walk to the look out to view Wineglass bay has 1000 steps and is a constant climb  this is a decent walk in it self and the walk to Wineglass bay beach is a further 3 hours return. We had left too late to do that so we had to be content with the look out and light house, regardless it was a fabulous day!!

 

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Day 3 Sunday

Port Arthur was the second biggest priority after Wineglass Bay for us! What an amazing place so full of history and stories! Not only was it a history lesson for Lorena but me as well, I learnt so much from this visit! The prison site in total is 100 acres plus 2 islands, one of these was the cemetery and the other the boys prison. Your ticket to enter covers your entry for the day you purchase the ticket and the following day that is how much there is to see there! Given that it is not bad value at all.

 

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The drive to Port Arthur takes nearly 1 hour and winds through many different and varied settings, it is spectacular in places open and forested in others, but an easy run! As with most of the places we went, the roads are fun to drive regardless of where you go in Tasmania.

Day 4 Monday   

Our last day! We spent this around Hobart revisiting some areas and went to the Botanical Gardens which are 200 years old! Quite an interesting place it is too with 2 brick walls each are almost as old as the gardens themselves, the gardens are just next to Government House situated on the main road into Hobart. There are many themed gardens in total and one section that was very interesting was the artic plant building it is a large refrigerator basically and has many Sub Antarctic plants in there to build the atmosphere they have recordings of the animals from the region so it takes you to the Antarctic, or as much a s it can! To finish off our stay we did a cruise around the harbour which went past many historical sites! The final pic below is the last time leaving the property where we stayed!

 

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02
Apr
19

A weekend escape just down the road

I am sorry to have neglected this blog but life has been very busy and after many months of not being on here it is about time I did something!  I will continue with the series of Race Tracks I Have Driven, more from the different places we go and things we do, also from Spyder Automobiles which has been keeping me away from here in recent times.

A couple of weeks ago Lorena and I went for a camping weekend to Yarra Junction after it was postponed from the first week in March due to Bush fires blocking roads and causing much destruction along their path. Many of you who have read this before would know of Jinks Creek Winery, it was a casualty of these fires but that is subject for another post!

Yarra Junction is just 1 hour West of Warragul and a quiet and wonderful little place nestled on the edge of the Yarra Valley! Mostly it is one of those places you pass through to get somewhere. There is however an absolute must see just out of Yarra Junction on the way to Warburton and that is the Blue Lotus gardens it  is a very well thought and laid with picnic tables and cafes, well maintained grounds and path It was such a surprise after initially seeing the nursery on the outside walking into the gardens was like stepping into another world almost!

 

The other place of interest well worth a visit is the American Redwood Forest at East Warburton it was planted in the 1930’s as an experiment to see how these trees would adapt and from what I saw I would say very well!

 

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13
Jun
18

Buchan, Caves and Hot Rods

 

The Sunday of the Queens Birthday weekend was spent at Buchan, primarily to see the caves. I hadn’t been there since the mid 1990’s I was not disappointed by my memory the tiny little town is just as I remembered except the Pub was bigger and newer after it had been burnt down in a fire! The town it self is set in a stunning location with incredible views!

The Hot Rods were from the display at Lakes Entrance on the Saturday and it was a treat to find them along the way to Buchan, then to be able to have a close look at the cars from across Victoria, NSW and ACT!

The Caves were fantastic to see and explore again and the wonder of them is always something very special to witness! I will let the pics speak for them selves!

 

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12
Jun
18

Lakes Entrance in June.

 

After a few busy weeks it was really great to get away and relax somewhere different! I hadn’t been to Lakes Entrance for a long time and Lorena had never gone any further East than Morwell. So she was in for an adventure as we were staying at Lake Tyres and camping on Queens Birthday long weekend. The forecast was good with little chance of rain and mid to high teens for top temperatures.

We arrived Saturday afternoon and set up camp then looked around Lakes Entrance having dinner and walking along the foreshore. There had been a Hot Rod display before we arrived and many of them were parked in the street and in the area for the weekend! More on them later!

 

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The intention was to do a lakes cruise on the Monday after going to Buchan Caves on Sunday but we missed on the cruise so that will need to wait. The trip home was punctuated with a picnic at the Port of Sale, which was very nice and relaxing!

 




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