33 cars entered The Tasman Cup Revival; 17 of which came across from New Zealand

Preamble…

I keep raving about our “tree-change” and how wonderful it is to live down here. It certainly helps when the most exciting motor racing circuit in Aus is in “our neck of the woods” too… Phillip Island circuit is home to the Australian Round of Moto GP and the Superbikes. The circuit and its facilities are top notch; however the road immediately on to and then through the Island is not. My only gripe about going to big meets at the Island is getting off at the end of the day…an hour is not unusual as the traffic rarely gets above crawling speed. However the setting is spectacular as the circuit overlooks the ocean. It’s fast and it’s long and the racing action is never just a procession at this place. You can make your way all round the circuit and watch the racing from any number of great vantage points. For me though, at this Meet in particular the best fun is in the pits…and this year with 550 entries there was plenty to see and plenty of buddies to talk to!

So, the weekend before we spent at the Warragul Show and at the Harvest of Gippsland. Big contrast – the Show was a little disappointing (big money for not much fun), but the Harvest of Gippsland had us all salivating at the gate. Magnificent food, wine and fresh produce from our region, with great live music to add to the already beautiful atmosphere. We spent that day grazing our way around the event – many times. Not sure how many cones of calamari we bought, but the guys cooking it knew us by sight as we made several encore visits! And all this about five minutes from home at Lardner Park…

The weekend:

The Labour Day holiday weekend rolled around and brought with it the Phillip Island Historics. We couldn’t sneak away on the Friday as originally planned, but we were primed and ready for Saturday.

We took 2 cars as the kids are getting a little big for the back of the 356 and frankly it’s a pain to try and load hampers and chairs and stuff in plus 4 people. No 1 son Tom had to work (apprentice chef) and couldn’t come – tough call for a young guy who loves his motor-sport, but we’re proud of him for his work ethic.

I stuffed the hamper and eskies with lots of yummies and drinks (great food is a BIG part of our lives – we could all happily live to eat, not eat to live), packed the Multivan full of stuff and left the 356 empty – yay! OK, so now which car to drive…finally I relinquished the keys to my beloved ‘Bertha the Wonder Van’ to Mike and jumped in the 356. Now my Multivan is no normal kid-carrier. She sports an Audi 5 cylinder engine with lots of compression (standard fitment), manual tranny (of course!), lowered with Konis front and rear, wider wheels, good tyres, slotted discs with EBS racing pads (Yellows in front, Reds in rear). Lots of other little improvements too. It handles remarkably well, is really responsive as long as you keep it ‘on the cam’ and stops in an instant. It’s kind of like driving a big 911…only with lots of room. For a big and presumed “boring” people mover it’s a whole lot of fun and given my breadth of experience in driving a whole host of fun and fantastic cars that’s high praise indeed.

Billy who is 8 was adamant he would come with me, so Charlotte (10) grabbed her stack of CDs and hopped in with Mike. We decided to take the back way through the twisties and have some (legal) fun on the way. Unfortunately I forgot to stick some pillows under Billy and he got motion sickness as he was struggling to see over the dash. Must have been like watching the water line against the horizon in a boat in choppy seas for him. Luckily we made it to the service station just as he said “Mummy I need some fresh air”…little trooper managed to get out of the car before anything untoward happened!

We swapped kids to give Billy an easier ride – alas poor Charlotte; no CD player in the 356! Best sounding music ever comes from the 911 2.0L S engine in the back anyway…I chuckled when she pulled her iPod out of her pocket and “plugged” herself in. She’d come prepared…smart kid.

We arrived at circuit and found ourselves a great parking spot on Turn 1. First feeding for “we four of hollow legs” and down to the fence just in time to watch arguably the best race of the weekend.

Historic Tourings Car are the family favorite – we all love watching a good dogfight and this category never dissapoints. This category is also the home of the Big-bangers – the muscle cars that Mike and I grew up with. The noise and the smells bring back lots of memories for us both – going to race meets when we were both kids to watch these cars run in their heyday…well their heyday is back! The Groups Nb and Nc are very well supported and the competition is strong. These guys don’t mind rubbing a little paint every so often either – they are there to RACE. The scheduled races for this weekend included a mixed lot of categories and a field of 50 entries in the (mostly) over 3.0 Litre events. The smallest capacity cars running were the V6 Capris; all the way up to the 5.8 litre Camaros and Falcons. The oldest in the field was a ’56 4.9 litre Customline. Glenn Seton in a V6 Capri (tremendously successful V8 Supercar driver and son of Barry ‘Bo’ Seton) started from the back of the grid as other commitments didn’t allow him to qualify on Friday. We KNEW then this was going to be THE race of the weekend…

Well, Glenn picked up about a dozen places off the start and kept hunting down the competition for the 5 laps…it was an awesome drive to watch and one we won’t forget in a hurry. Seton finished 7th and was fighting for a 6th place finish – John Mann in a ’64 4.8L Mustang just managed to hold him off. To watch Seton pass cars going three wide into turn one was just incredible – he was the hero of the weekend! This was a David and Goliath battle of sorts – we’d got our monies worth in 5 laps!

The racing all weekend was fantastic.  We stood above the pits to watch the Formula 1s and 5000s race – whilst some of these guys (and one girl) seemed to just be circulating, there were others who were in it to win it. The spectacle of a full field of historic F1s and 5000s just had to be seen (and heard) to be believed… 33 cars with the fastest (a McRae GM1) lapping at 1.31s…awesome stuff.

One of the most impressive cars was a little 1600 (8 valve engine) Escort entered in the under 3.0L Groups Nb and Nc Historic Touring Car category. Clean, very well prepared and exremely well driven by its owner – who was on P plates!  There were a lot of notable cars in this category – not the least being a very fast RX2 that sadly got crunched very badly at the start of one race. About 8 cars were involved and the last I heard everyone was OK (thankfully). A couple of guys were carted off to respective hospitals with various injuries, but none life-threatening. The little RX2 was a write-off; really sad to see that happen in a Historic category. Then there was the unbeatable Mini Cooper S – this guy just cleared out on the field just about every race. But there was good racing all the way back through the field; it was hard to pick which dice to watch.

We spent a lot of time in the pits. We bought Billy a Bathurst Legends poster and promptly had it autographed by Bob Jane who as usual had time for a chat. We also caught up with Harry Firth and Bo Seton and my favorite John Goss (he is STILL a ladies man). In fact we spent a good deal of time with John, leaning on the XA GT and chatting about the “good ol’ days”…this guy is the ONLY person who did and will ever win both the Grand Prix and Bathurst here in Australia! And girls, trust me – he is still one gorgeous looking piece and a charmer to boot! And we spent some time with Brian Sampson too – got a great pic of him with Bob Jane – couple of real life legends these guys. Billy was just in awe – but these gentlemen all took the time to shake his hand and sign his poster. He hasn’t stopped raving about that…

Catching up with lots of old friends is the best part of this event. I spent a lot of time with Bruce Harris and Alan Hamilton over the weekend. These two guys bounced me on their knees when I was just a bub (they couldn’t do that now)…and they both mean the world to me. Great lifelong family friends – just doesn’t get any better than that.

We had great company with us all weekend too – we caught up with Hugh every morning and spent most of the weekend wandering around together. On Sunday, Mike’s old crew member and racing mate Peter came down with us. We had to twist his arm on Saturday night to come along…he couldn’t thank us enough for doing so! We bumped into a lot of old racing buddies and Porsche friends. The Youngs (Bruce was competing in his 2.0L S), the Websters (both father Stewart and son Alex were competing), literally bumped into an old mate of mine Michelle and her husband Dwayne…caught up with David Withers plus a host of others. At the end of the weekend we finally caught up with Mike’s favorite CAMS scrutineer; the lovely Leslie. Mike has known Leslie for a very long time. She is an absolute riot and we always try to catch up with her at race events. It’s a great big busy weekend and a highlight of every year for us.

Now pictures tell a thousand words…check out the dedicated photo page!

Full results for this event and all others that happen in Aus are available at:
http://www.natsoft.com.au/cgi-bin/results.cgi?09/03/2008.PHIL

More photos and great stories are available at:
http://www.vhrr.com/phillip_island.htm

 


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