A dozen Sporting Register cars and their occupants gathered in Drouin for the early morning drive down through Ripplebrook to Lang Lang before turning on to the Bass Highway and heading for the Phillip Island GP Circuit. The notion of a quick coffee-fix prior to the departure in Drouin seemed appealing to some at first, but the very slow service meant that a couple of our group had to chase our convoy down after quite a delayed start. The rest of us enjoyed a brisk, unhindered run to Lang Lang prior to merging with the flow of long-weekend traffic heading south at a steady 100 km/h. To make sure nobody transgressed an unmarked speed camera car near Bass kept us all safe – pull the other leg, it plays Jingle Bells!
On arrival at the Island we found quite a queue of traffic lined up waiting to enter the circuit, but at least we were able to watch the action on the track, or chat to other classic car owners in the queue as we crawled towards the entrance booths. Once inside the gates we made our way to the car parking area overlooking Turn One where we regrouped before heading off to enjoy an amazing day of historic motorsport. Your correspondent, with John and Locky Fowler moved our three Sprites to the Shannons’ Club area where we helped set up the Austin Healey Sprite Drivers’ Club display adjacent to the main straight just opposite the pits. One of the great things about this event is the spectacular array of classic and sporting vehicles you can see not only on the track and in the pits, but also in the car parks and display areas around the circuit. This year’s event attracted a record number of entries which meant all the races fielded full grids and the pits were at capacity. Spectator numbers also seemed to be greater this year as well, but not to the extent of making access to facilities, the pits or vendors difficult.
Sporting Register members David Anderson and Rodger Chapman were competing in the Group Sb and Sc sports car events in their MGBs, whilst Ray Gymer was driving his Porsche 911 in the Regularity events. They and their families and friends had a gazebo hospitality area set up on the grassed pit area near the track exit road where one could watch the racers returning to the pits after each event. Unfortunately, a white MGB in the neighbouring pit area wasn’t going anywhere. It had broken its crankshaft which punched a hole through its engine block taking the distributor with it. All three of our members seemed to be enjoying a trouble-free run – although of course there was still Sunday to go!
A goodly number of Sporting Register members seemed to have made their own way to the circuit, as wherever I went I came across more of our members enjoying the event. The raucous note of Doug Armour’s home-made, flat-head Ford V8 Maserati Special caught my attention on both his arrival and departure, so there was no doubting his presence.
It was nice to catch up with several local and interstate drivers with whom I raced back in the 1990s, many are still at it and still driving the same cars! The under 3-litre historic touring car category holds special interest for me so it was great to see the Minis still dicing competitively with V6 Capris, Mazda Capellas, Alfa GTVs, Escorts and Datsun 1600s. Other categories always worth watching are the thundering Formula 5000s and their outrageous Can-Am sports car brethren which never fail to excite.
A wander through the pit garages is of course mandatory. It’s here you’ll find the ex-Alan Jones Williams and Beatrice F1 racers, several Brabham BTs, rear-engined Coopers, Lolas, Elfins, McLarens, Porsches and a large contingent of Group C touring cars which was the premier touring car category in Australia prior to the V8 Supercar circus. It’s impossible to pick a favourite car from such a meeting, but it’s difficult to top a late 60’s Porsche 906 on road plates – the factory’s last road registrable sports racing car. There’s room in my garage any time!
The drive home from such an event can often be an anti-climax, but with so many sports and classic cars leaving at about the same time, there’s always interesting company on the road and everyone wears a smile and gives a wave.