MID-WEEK-RUN to Moe Racing Club, Wednesday 17th January.

Gippsland put on its best weather for our Mid-Week-Run to the Moe Racing Club on 17th January. The skies were clear blue and the temperature was in the high twenties …. some might say warm – but if you are cruising along in a convertible on scenic country roads, this is the perfect temperature.   

The day started at the regular starting point outside the Darnum Tea Rooms for coffee, with 20 beautiful cars assembled – half with passengers.  Mustangs were well represented in the mix of classic drives and cruisers with the youngest car being a 2017 Subaru BRZ that still had its new car smell. 

The start of the drive, and my favourite part, was the climb up Sunny Creek Road from Trafalgar towards Childers – Thorpdale. We followed an XJSC with a modified exhaust chasing a 1974 Charger E48 6 Pack (a car that still drives through my dreams with memories of my youth). These two cars filled the air with magnificent sounds as they wove round the corners with plenty of open throttle and gear changes up to Childers. From there to Thorpdale there was more of a gentle cruise to enjoy tall trees and the occasional glimpse of wild life and live stock in the rolling pastures before dropping down into Narracan.  

We saw some rosellas and an emu in a roadside paddock (surely a pet) as we came into Coalville, and the road from there was another great drive on tight winding roads with wonderful scenery until the outskirts of Moe South.

The large convoy of 32 people then arrived for a delicious lunch at Moe Racing Club’s Turfside Bistro, with a lot of great socialising with our group spread along our two long tables.  

My many thanks to John Fowler, who again found some lovely roads and scenery for us to enjoy with our expensive toys.

Peter Chambers with Navigator in training, Pamela Chambers

Photos by John Fowler

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BREAKFAST CLUB, Warragul CBD – Sunday 14th January

A sombre mood hung over this month’s large gathering of sporting and classic cars in Warragul as people learned of the recent passing of one of our regular participants and long-time Sporting Register member, Graham Longmore. In remembrance of Graham, many of his friends placed a cross of black tape over their vehicles’ left-hand headlight – a practice used in tarmac rallying to honour a deceased competitor.

To farewell Graham and reflect on his life and times with friends and colleagues, we are passing on an invitation from his wife Marg, to gather at the Tyers Community Hall (Main Rd Tyers) on Friday 2nd Feb at 11 am.   All are welcome.

 

As has become commonplace now, the Woolies car park begins filling up with an eclectic collection of special vehicles well before the official 8am starting time. This month there were at least 6 Mazda MX5s on display, a model that is fast growing in popularity and classic status. We were also privileged to have several examples of American 1950/60s excessiveness with be-finned Fairlane 500 and Chrysler Saratoga, as well as a couple of Pontiac Parisiennes looking for over-sized car parking spaces. Dave Anderson’s Pontiac Firebird attracted another of similar ilk, but missing a roof, to park together – the owner had driven it down from Melbourne to see what we were all about. Other American muscle included a range of Mustang coupes and convertibles, a Chevy Corvair and a 1930’s Hupmobile.

A model making what I think might be its debut this this month was an American-delivered Mercedes 560SL – still in left hand drive and fitted with classic Californian oversized bumpers. Alan and Marg Humphreys brought along their new Subaru BRZ coupe. Alan made sure I was aware of its manual transmission – such a rarity nowadays, but so much more engaging to drive. A lovely gold Daimler double six made its debut, as did an impressive and rather large late-model Bentley.

The biggest crowd-puller of the day would certainly have to have been Des Dillon’s 1927 Type 35B Bugatti. This supercharged straight-8 Grand Prix racer has just returned to Australia following a successful European sojourn.

With the forecast of fine, cool weather, our numbers were again up around the 90 cars mark this month. As usual there were plenty of classic English and European sports cars as well as a smattering of newer models from Mercedes, Porsche, BMW and Alfa – all with tops off, of course!  

Most people hung around to well after 10am before heading off. Some headed home to attend to domestic duties, whilst others hastily organised a run out to Willow Grove for morning tea, it would have been a shame to waste such a perfect day for touring.

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MID-WEEK RUN TO GEMBROOK HOTEL, Wednesday 13th December

Wednesday morning turned out to be warm, about 28C. As we all assembled at the Warragul Shell Roadhouse, a few of us escaped the heat inside over a coffee until John was ready to issue instructions and hand out maps. Being such a nice day for a drive, thirteen cars left the Roadhouse and headed south along the Warragul – Korumburra Rd, to a right turn at Stockdales Rd where we made brisk pace to the Drouin South School via Hamiltons Rd and Lardners Track past Lardner Park. At the School we turned left to Ripplebrook, a right turn into Costers Rd with a downhill run and views to admire. At the T-intersection we took a right turn to Longwarry, then left at the railway line to Bunyip. And another left at the Bunyip River road, this is where we were able to pick up a bit of pace, keeping it all very legal, but giving the drivers a chance to have a bit of fun while the Navigators were looking at the scenery.

At Seven Mile Rd it was a right turn to Nar Nar Goon over the Freeway to the old Highway, then to Army Rd where we headed out through Pakenham Upper to the Gembrook Hotel where everyone arrived together. (Nobody got lost on route, as we all adhered to John’s Convoy Rule).

Upon arrival we met up with Bruce Bluett and were greeted at the hotel by their friendly staff and more importantly “cold beverages” as the temperature was now in the high 30s. A delicious meal was had by all. After lunch a few took the opportunity to go across the road to buy an ice cream at the station and watch the fireman clean Puffing Billy’s boiler before its return trip to Belgrave. Others made the trek on foot to the car museum only to find it closed – we were a day too early. So, it was back to the pub.

Another fantastic Mid-Week Run and lunch for all who attended. A big thank you to John and Jan for mapping it out and organising a great day out.

 Words by Richard Kaden, photos by John Fowler

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CHRISTMAS BREAKUP BBQ and FUNKHANA – Sunday 3rd December.

It was a tough call not to cancel our annual Funkhana /Xmas Breakup at Neerim South, but with support from our hosts, Mike and Di Whitford whose property had received a drenching over the previous couple of days, we decided to go ahead despite the chance of showers, and most agreed that this was the right call.

With the front paddock groomed to almost golf-course standard, a Motorhome with annex and a pair of gazebos to keep the participants dry, we had a superb venue on which to conduct the funkhana. A fast, open course was setup using ten numbered gateways. Two runs were conducted on each of three test layouts with the course changing only slightly between tests to avoid damaging the surface too much. The first course was a simple run through the gates in sequential order 1 to 10. On the first run through, Locky Fowler (in his aunt’s old hand-me-down Toyota Corona wagon) set the fastest time with some tidy driving and well executed tail-slides. Paul Mogensen in his MX5 did better on his second run through, eclipsing Locky’s earlier time by 5 seconds to claim the fastest time.

The second test was a reverse of the first one, meaning that the gates had to be taken sequentially from number 10 through to number 1. Once again, the battle was between Locky and Paul for fastest time with Hayden Fowler also looking threatening after coming to grips with the understeering, all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi VR4. There was only about 4 seconds between these three drivers at the top of the leader board until Mike brought out the Quad Bike for an unofficial run to show how it should be done, and knocked another 4 seconds off. David Anderson also tried the Pontiac Firebird on this test, but had trouble keeping it pointed in the right direction and clobbered a couple of flags in the process.

The third test was a combination of the previous two. Drivers had to negotiate the gates numbered 1 to 10, do a u-turn and run back through the gates from number 10 to number 1 before garaging at the finish. To make it even more interesting a short shower of rain made sure the surface was very slippery. Paul, Locky and Hayden were the top three drivers once again, but a fraction of a second was enough to give Paul fastest time on this final test and overall victory over Locky by 9 seconds.

 

DRIVER VEHICLE TEST 1a TEST 1b TEST 2a TEST 2b TEST 3a TEST 3b TOTAL
Paul Mogenson MX5 56.5 48.8 58.9 43.8 96.0 100.1 188.6
Locky Fowler Corona Wagon 53.1 63.0 47.9 48.5 96.7 107.7 197.7
Hayden Fowler Galant VR4 61.7 54.1 48.5 45.7 100.5 +10 100.9 200.7
Mike Whitford BMW E30 65.1 +5 60.7 55.7 52.3 107.2 DNS 220.2
Frank Columbine BMW 320ci 62.1 57.6 54.3 49.7 WD 122.8 230.1
Merv Swingler Ford Falcon XF 59.5 67.6 +5 54.9 46.3 WD 126.9 232.7
Ron Brooks BMW 335i 82.3 61.2 58.4 54.7 122.9 DNS 238.8
David Anderson BMW E20 116.1 76.3 153.6 +5 DNS DNS DNS  
David Anderson Firebird DNS DNS 53.3 +10 DNS 144.9 DNS  
Sandy Goddard MGB DNS DNS 94.3 66.9 122.5 DNS  
Mike Whitford Farm quad bike DNS DNS DNS 39.9 DNS DNS  
  • A penalty of +5 seconds is given for every flag that is dislodged
  • DNS – Did Not Start or contest the event
  • WD – Wrong Direction

 

About 25 to 30 members and friends joined us for a BBQ after the event. Ian Holdsworth organised and delivered Warragul Rotary Club’s trailer BBQ which always does a fantastic job on occasions such as this. The BBQ was setup in the garden under a gazebo next to the house, and most guests were happy to sit on the wide verandah out of the weather where Di had provided a table of dips, salads and sweets.

Many thanks to Mike and Di for their hospitality and for once again letting us chew up their front paddock. Thanks also to Ian Holdsworth for organising the BBQ, and to Phil Barnard for his excellent photographic coverage of the event.

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BREAKFAST CLUB, Warragul CBD – Sunday 10th December

The final Breakfast Club for the year was blessed with perfect weather which helped to attract one of our largest turnouts of the year with some 100 vehicles on display. Car parking spaces were once again at a premium, the southern section of the parking area filling by 8am.

Several vehicles made their Breakfast Club debut, a majestic two-tone green Daimler DB18 from around 1950, a black MGTF and a mid ‘50s Riley Pathfinder brought some classic British charm. An early T-Model Ford and a 1929 Chev Sports Coupe added some vintage flavour, whilst a few modern newcomers added to our ranks of Porsche and Mustangs. Steve and Karen Austen bought along their recently purchased Audi TT Quattro roadster, they seem quite taken by its quirkiness and all-wheel-drive performance.

A scarcity of Fiats and Ferraris this month was offset by plenty of Alfas, a Lancia and a Ducati. Porsches, BMWs and Mercedes were as popular as usual and the English aficionados had plenty of variety to keep them happy with models from Jaguar, Austin Healey, Triumph, MG, Lotus, Sunbeam, Morris, Humber and Riley on display. It was nice to see some Aussie specials in the form of a Bolwell Mk.7 coupe and a Milano roadster, as well as an RT Charger which was admired by a couple of our boys in blue who stopped by for a sticky whilst on patrol in the area. Lloyd Shaw’s immaculate FJ Holden made a welcome appearance and a couple of massive Ford LTDs added to the home-grown element.

A couple of Nissan/Datsun Z cars, some MX5s, a WRX, an RX7 and a VR4 Galant made up our small but growing, sporty Japanese contingent which at least outnumbered our smaller French delegation which consisted of Peter Walker’s V8 Simca Vedette and Paul Montagnat’s Peugeot 203 sedan.

I’m sorry that I can’t mention every make and model that contributed to our display this month, and I’ve probably missed photographing several cars as well, but thank you to everybody who turned up and we look forward to beginning another big year with our January Breakfast Club on the Sunday the 14th.

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UNOFFICIAL MID-WEEK ALPS OVERNIGHTER, 29th & 30th Nov.

Occasionally groups of members and friends take the opportunity to organise unofficial drives and activities that may have been inspired by previous Club runs, in preparation for future activities, or just for the hell of it!

Last month’s Le Tour De Alps certainly aroused interest in having another run up to the high country, so Kevin Riley put together a two-day run that included the Great Alpine Rd from Bruthen up and over Mt Hotham, an overnight stay in Bright and a return trip via Murtleford, Whitfield, Mansfield, Eildon, Marysville and Warburton. The total distance was around 900km and the roads selected were perfect for some spirited driving, exploiting the sporting capabilities of the vehicles involved.

Kevin drove his very capable Mercedes SL55 AMG; Rob Morley, his slightly less formidable SL350; Rob Coustley chose to bring his BMW M3; Steve Schmidt gave the Z4 its first extended outing; Ray Youlden left his new, classic Benz at home opting instead for the potent little Focus RS hatch and John Fowler brought along his new Mustang 5.0 – the only non-German car in the bunch. All cars performed well and although nobody was aiming for outstanding fuel economy, the comparison of fuel used by the different models was an interesting talking point. Ray was surprised at how thirsty the Focus could be when utilizing the turbo regularly. The 3-litre twin turbo Z4 seemed to be the least thirsty of the bunch, but one could never describe it as frugal!

It was interesting to see patches of snow on the summit of Hotham and the surrounding peaks despite an unprecedented string of days with well above average temperatures. The Ovens and King Valleys looked lush and verdant with the rivers flowing swiftly. Being mid-week, the traffic was light and although we were held up a few times by heavy vehicles, it was nice to see several drivers unselfishly pulling over and letting us through on roads where overtaking was difficult.

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