There was a time when this particular Sunday in October was sacrosanct. It was Bathurst and all attention was focused on the TV telecast and the fridge. Things have changed, the Great Race is no longer an event for car enthusiasts, it’s now about celebrity drivers and their multi-million-dollar sponsored teams. The V8 Supercars are nothing more than purpose-built Sports Sedan/NASCAR/silhouette formula clones bristling with control components, plastic bodies and farcical ties to production cars. It would be tremendous to see a return to proper production touring car racing where the only vehicles with transaxle rear ends, sequential gearboxes, carbonfibre-panels and 600bhp V8s are built like that at the factory and sold at your local dealership. The event would also be far more interesting to watch because there would be performance and endurance differences between different makes of cars. Some excelling at certain places on the track and others going longer between pit stops.
This October is the 50th Anniversary of the Cooper S whitewash at Mt Panorama when the ‘S’ of Bob Holden and Rauno Aaltonen led home 8 others to create the most emphatic win by one make in the race’s history. It was fitting then, that Allan Richards drove his ‘S’ to our monthly gathering this morning in recognition of that occasion. Not to be outdone, Bob Russell was keen to remind your correspondent that the VE V8 Valiant, not dissimilar to one he brought along, also has Bathurst cred with a class win in 1968. Also on display were several Falcon GTs, Chrysler’s Charger, an Alfetta GTV and a nicely modified Datsun 1600 to remind us all of the days when real cars contested Australia’s Great Race. I can’t imagine the same respect being given a Nissan Altima in 40 years’ time – even if you could find one that’s V8 powered and rear-wheel-drive.
Amongst our gathering of over 80 sporting and classic cars and bikes this month, there were several new-comers. Richard Rowley brought along his recently purchased XF twin-turbo diesel Jaguar, a couple of Fiats (a red X1/9 and a blue 128/3P) added to our fine collection of Italian classics, there was a very tidy Triumph Spitfire and a stunning, 1950’s Mercedes 220S Utility – a customised build based on a sedan. Other utes this month included the Aitken’s Austin A70, a lovely red EH Holden, a 1940’s era Ford and a huge F100/F250 truck!
As usual, there were plenty of Jaguar sedans, Mustangs late-model Mercedes coupes, with sports cars aplenty, Fiat Spiders, MGs, Lotus, Austin-Healeys, Boxsters, Triumphs, Jaguars, a Cobra and Doug Armour’s Fiat/Maserati/Ford special. When a little black cloud began sprinkling over Warragul at about 9:30, it was like a LeMans start of old, with drivers racing to their cars, starting their engines and leaving the grid. A few hardy souls stayed behind, waiting for the weather to clear before wiping down the upholstery and setting off home.
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