Back in 1997, Doug Armour invited half a dozen sports car enthusiasts from around the district to the Darnum Pub where the feasibility of creating a local car club was discussed over a meal. Most of those at that first meeting were already members of established car clubs in Melbourne, but like Doug, were looking for opportunities to use their vehicles in events closer to home.
From humble beginnings in 1998 as a sub-branch of the well-established Gippsland Car Club, the Sporting Register has gone from strength to strength, enjoying steady growth and influence, especially since becoming an independent entity in 2011. Each year the anniversary of the Club is celebrated with a drive and meal at a local restaurant. This year John Fowler organised the event on behalf of the Club and had booked the Welcome Inn at Willow Grove. However, at very short notice they informed us that they’d decided to close down and would unfortunately be unable to cater for our event. Several alternative venues were then then approached before settling on Luciano’s of Drouin who were able to accommodate the numbers we were anticipating. This was obviously a very popular choice of venue with 70 club members pre-booking on our website in the weeks leading up to the event.
With the recent dramatic onset of wintery conditions in West Gippsland, it was a relief to wake to a frosty, but fine morning with no sign of rain or wind in the forecast. The Birthday Bash run was scheduled to leave the Warragul Shell servo at 11am and it was great to see so many members arriving in their sports and classic cars. John had mapped out a 67 km route that included some of the best driving roads in the district. Mizpah Settlement Rd, McDougal Rd, Old Telegraph Rd and the Rokeby-Jindivick Rd were all there, with a few others that took our members on a scenic tour through Shady Creek, Neerim Sth, Jindivick and Douin West before arriving at Luciano’s in Drouin’s main street. We really are blessed with some fantastic roads and scenery in West Gippsland, a fact that hasn’t gone un-noticed by motorcycle and local cycling clubs which sometimes like to enjoy the same stretches of bitumen. Because our numbers were larger than that usually experienced on drives such as this, John decided to stagger the start of the run and divide the participants into three groups which avoided the problems of trying to maintain contact in one long convoy. As designated photographer, it was a pleasant morning to stand on various corners listening for the raspy approach of classic sports cars. Unfortunately, the modern variants don’t have that same aural impact – at least until they’ve almost passed by – but it was quite an impressive convoy, one which stopped locals in their tracks as they paused to watch the procession.
On arrival back in Drouin, run participants negotiated the street closures associated with installation of new light poles, eventually finding enough car parks, before being joined by additional members who had driven directly to the venue. Luciano’s had set aside seven tables of ten for our use, they filled quickly and the staff were soon taking orders.
Many thanks to John Fowler, who despite several setbacks, organised a very successful Birthday Bash in celebration our 18th Anniversary.