Archive Page 2

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

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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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