2014 GREAT AUSTRALIAN RALLY, Mornington. Sunday 19th January

This annual RACV rally has a multi venue start with various route options that finishes at the Mornington Racecourse for classic vehicles, and is a huge event.

It has been at least 8 years since we last went on this rally, and then it was in my ’65 S type Jag (now getting an engine re-build – another saga for later!), so it was time to re-visit it. It was regrettable that it clashed with Steve’s Economy Run this time around. This time Jan and I went in our Mk 111 Sprite, and met up with a few other Sprite owners at the start at the Stud Park shopping centre in Stud Rd Rowville. This is one of a number of possible starting points for this rally.

There were a huge number of cars at this starting point, with the huge majority being British, and apparently there were over 1000 cars from the various starting points converging on Mornington.

We had left Darnum at 7.10am and arrived there at 8.20. Cars had all pre-booked, and were presented with an RACV Goodies bag at the start, and had time for complementary teas or coffees as well as snags for breakfast, which made it very social, with plenty of time for a chat and to have a look around and admire the other cars before leaving about 9am.

It was hard to all keep everyone together with the large number of cars involved, plus the normal traffic, but we travelled along the Dandenong-Frankston freeway, and then wound our way down to the Moorooduc Highway then Bungower Rd to Racecourse Rd and the racetrack at Mornington. We became part of a stop-start traffic jam of classic cars that must have stretched for over 5 km as they tried to get everyone in through one gate at the racecourse. Disastrous – with many a car overheating in the half hour (at least) traffic jam! This was the only drawback to the day, but certainly something they need to work on!

However there were other routes to get there as well, including a scenic drive down via Dromana to Mornington which some took, but they too got caught in the jam.

Anyway, after an eternity (it seemed like) our fragmented group finally got inside about 10.45am, and we spread out a bit in a line, to try to allow spaces for latecomers who went via Dromana.

Our red, white and blue Sprite line-up looked great and created a bit of interest – especially with the bonnets up. Amazing how enthusiasts love to look at the older style engines – like bees to honey? We set up tables and chairs behind the cars and had our teas/coffees, nibbles and a good chin-wag.

The weather was warm and cloudy most of the time, but when the sun came out for short bursts it was quite hot – but not enough to worry anyone. It was a lovely day – for a classic display!

There were quite a number of interesting trade stalls to wander around, as well as some special food vans providing tasty lunches. An orchestra and wonderful singer kept us entertained as the day progressed as well.  The rarer and ‘elite’ (expensive!) cars were arranged in an open circle in this area.

From time to time, we went off to look at the amazing array of cars from all eras – once again the majority being British. The only other GSCCR members we caught up with were Ian and Mary Hodge in their immaculate cream MG TF that we had on display at ‘Daizies’ not long ago. There were also many ‘normal’ or daily driver type classics amongst the array.

Many clubs had organised a section for their own displays. The MG one was huge.  It was obvious from what we heard that many folk used the event to catch up with old acquaintances from elsewhere or the previous years.

We went around time and again, admiring everyone’s Classic, and we all had our favourite ones. There were some spectacular cars we talked about, and perhaps the Edwardian ‘brass style’ cars were the most different, as well as a few old bikes.

From each era there were many I would have loved to take home as a small selection to drive regularly to events – like George Hetrel who had his amazing collection there. Regardless, there were some fantastic cars that we rarely see these days, so it was well worth being part of, adding our own flavour with our classic sports-cars, and soaking up the atmosphere.

It was great to see everyone’s Classic being used. The Classic Car movement is alive and well!

We all started to drift off at about 2.30 – 3pm and made our way home – in our case arriving home about 4.30pm after a great day with like minded enthusiasts.

John Fowler

Here are 3 pictures from Donna Clarke at the start of the event at Rowville. All have Sprites plus others in them – including an Innocenti Sprite. There is also a picture of the pleasant background singer standing between the free coffee and snags, his entertaining singing added a bit extra to the atmosphere with his period songs.

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