MID-WEEK RUN, NOOJEE HOTEL – Wednesday 18th March

What a great day!

The March Midweek Run to Noojee exceeded all expectations.

These runs are proving very popular as evidenced by the 21 cars and 37 members setting out from Darnum after a cosy coffee and chat at “The Stump” cafe.

John delivered his usual briefing and maps from the bench before sending us on our way crossing over the M1 and immediately turning onto the Shady Creek road.

We travelled through the beautiful Gippsland greenery, while enjoying a delightful autumn day. At Shady Creek we tuned right onto the Yarragon-Shady Creek road then turning onto the Sillars Road, we then joined the Araluen Road before continuing along the Old Sale Road.

It was here that the fun started. After we zig-zagged and crossed over the Trafalgar-Willow Grove road, there were some who missed the left turn into Davey’s Road, but insisted that they were only extending their journey because it was such a lovely day. Really?

The road from Willow Grove towards Noojee became something of a frustration with large stretches of the road subject to resurfacing and frequent holdups. The fear of fresh tar on paintwork was a real worry for some.

However, despite the prospects of fresh tar, there was no taking away from the beautiful country we were driving through. The Alpine Ash forest never fails to excite those travelling through it.

All too soon we arrived at Noojee and the historic hotel. Here we were joined by 2 more members, bringing the total sitting down to lunch to 39.  Seated on the deck outside we were well-spaced apart and enjoyed excellent meals in delightful surroundings. This was a fitting reward.

Following much happy chatter, people started to drift way. Strangely, most went home through Neerim South. Wonder why?

Grateful thanks to John and Jan for planning the run and leading us. Sadly, this may be the last midweek run for a while thanks to the Corona Virus. Perhaps a future run could happen without a lunch destination?

What a great day!

Words by Ken & Joy Wright (BMW Z4)  Photos by John Fowler

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MARCH MONTHLY MEETING, Drouin Golf Club – Thursday 12th March

Last month’s mention of the protocols for parking outside the Clubrooms seems to have been heeded this month, even though a closer look at the badges on some of the sedans may have been required to establish their sporting or classic car credentials. We certainly had an eclectic selection this month, more in keeping with the Club’s ethos.

The vehicle taking pride of place on the green carpet inside, was a 2004 BMW 645 convertible belonging to John Hogbin’s friend, Bruce Cake. Powered by a 4.4 litre V8 driving through a 6-speed auto, this luxury 2-door cruiser is very-well equipped and has been religiously serviced every 12 months even though it has covered only 132,000km. Bruce still has a few minor bugs to sort out with the electric mirrors, Bluetooth connection and a recalcitrant key fob, but nothing insurmountable I’m sure.

Our second guest speaker for the night was Greg Walker, a Gippslander who gave up football after breaking his wrist in 1977 and took up rally driving. To begin his career, Greg, with no experience,  brought the ex-Bob Watson Renault 8 Gordini, but totalled it on his third event! In 1978 he brought a Renault 12 Virage and decided to enter it in the 1979 Repco Reliability Trial. The car was stripped and seam welded, a roll cage and long-range fuel tanks were fitted. Renault Australia pitched in with competition clutch and drive shafts. A bank of Cibie Oscars were spread across the front and skid pans protected the underneath. The event covered 19,500km in 13 days. Of the 167 starters, 92 finished with only 32 completing the whole course. Greg’s team came home in 55th outright position and 8th in their class. The Renault was sold after the event, but Greg bought it back and did a few more rallies in it until destroying the engine in 1983. The car was then sold again and Greg withdrew from motorsport until 2018 when he by chance heard of the plans to run a 40-year Reunion Re-run of the Reliability Trial. This was to be a somewhat saner event than the original rally due to the implications of speed limits and health and safety concerns, but Greg and his team were hooked. They purchased a 1976 1.4-litre Renault 12 Virage from the President of the NSW Renault Car Club and poured $25,000 into it trying to recreate the specifications of the original car they used in 1979.

This re-run event covered 15,000km in 15 days and competing in a 43-year-old car was certainly a challenge. Greg detailed the problems encountered enroute which included a broken speedo cable (no speedo, tripmeter or Halda), electrical issues with light switches, gearbox, clutch, drive-shaft and exhaust problems, and a rear brake calliper that fell off. Nevertheless, with massive support from the Renault Clubs and supporters around the country, the car made it to the end to be classified as a finisher. A remarkable effort and an interesting story. The Club thanks Greg for sharing his experience of both events with us and hopes he gets the car back on the road again soon.

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BREAKFAST CLUB, Warragul CBD – Sunday 8th March

I arrived at the Woolies’ car-park at 7:45 and already the triangular section was almost full. The morning was sunny, but the wind was very cool. For a change, I took my 1947 Dodge short-tray truck which is all original and it has always been on the road – I am lucky to be just its third owner.

Once again, the range of vehicles was extensive, from classic open-topped sports cars to classic sedans to more modern sports and performance sedans and coupes from all eras.

Probably the European varieties were the in the majority with Japanese models close behind, but there was a good number of Australian models and British types, but American classics this time were the least represented from the approximately 80 cars on display. This huge variety certainly helps make the monthly get-together so much more interesting.

As always, there was a huge amount of mingling, admiring of others’ cars with various discussions about them, as owners moved around the carpark and took the opportunity to catch up with each other and met new classic car drivers. This is what makes the gathering such a successful event. There was much interest from the public also, together with some enquiries about our Club.

As always, the various coffee shops and take-aways were extremely well patronised by everyone.  Many owners also took the opportunity to do some shopping which is a boost for the Supermarket and Target etc as well. So, our monthly event certainly adds to the coffers of these local businesses.

By about 9:30 some cars were leaving somewhat earlier – possibly to go to the Phillip Island ‘Historics’ or for a drive in the sun, but many were still there by 10:30.

Another great Breakfast Club gathering!

Words and photos by John Fowler

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PHILLIP ISLAND CLASSIC, Weekend 7th & 8th March

Historic racing is drawing huge fields these days with cars and quite often drivers from eras that many regard as being the Golden Age of motorsport, doing what they do best. Whether it be the turbo-era Ford Sierra touring cars, the delicate Elfin Streamliners of the ‘60s or ex-World Championship Formula One cars, there are sights and sounds that never fail to draw a crowd.

Although not a gazetted Club event this year, and without any of our regular drivers competing, it was surprising to see so many of our members strolling around the pit paddock and checking out the various club displays on Shannons Walk. Alan Richards had his Cooper S on display with the Mini Car Club, Shane Slatter had his E-Type in the Jaguar Club area, Ross McConnell managed to wrangle an invitation to display his Bolwell inside the Exhibition Shed, whilst Mike Whitford found a spot for his Ford GT40 just outside. Paul Mogensen and his brother Ash participated in the Shannons Cavcade to Phillip Island and had their Milano MG on display at the circuit on Saturday.

The Phillip Island Classic is organised and run by the Victorian Historic Racing Register and each year they celebrate significant anniversaries of various race cars and sporting marques. This year coincided with the 60th Anniversary of Marcos Cars, and Heaven and Earth were moved to ensure that as many Marcos cars as possible would attend this event under the banner MARCOZ 2020. Your correspondent’s Mini Marcos and the V6 Marcos GT of club member Mike Kolody joined eight other Marcos cars from Victoria, NSW and South Australia in the what was the largest ever assemblage of Marcos cars in Australia. As well as displaying the cars during the weekend, we enjoyed a couple of Parade Laps before racing began on Sunday, and a professional photo session on the track after the racing had concluded.  

You can tell how successful each Phillip Island race meeting is by the length of time it takes to reach San Remo on the other side of the bridge. This must have been a very successful event !

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NEW MEMBERS’ RUN – Sunday 23rd February.

Approaching the 10am departure time, our gathering of vehicles outside the Bendigo Bank in Warragul reflected the direction in which our Club appears to moving. Only three classic cars in the form of Mal Collin’s Mini, Dave Anderson’s Firebird and your correspondent’s Fiat 124 Coupe lined up against their modern counterparts. It was expected to be a warm day and the temptation to drive in air-conditioned comfort was perhaps understandable. Mal even dropped by his home en route and switched from Mini to Hyundai i30N.

We are blessed with some magnificent driving roads in our region and Glenn Campbell knows most of them. His route took us northwards towards Noojee via the Mizpah Settlement Rd and the back roads around Neerim Junction and Neerim North. Unfortunately, after photographing our members as they drove towards Neerim South, I decided to try and make up time by taking the shorter route to Noojee via the main road north, but apparently so did every other Sunday Driver in the area, including those who love to crawl along dragging their portable house behind them. Noojee was meant to be a morning tea destination and it looked like our group had found space to park, but with every car and bike club in the area descending upon the town I gave it a miss and headed towards Baw Baw on the tail of a trio of motorcycles who opened their throttles once clearing the town limits and slower traffic. We all took the right turn option at Icy Creek towards Hill End and enjoyed a terrific run through the heavily forested twisties and switchbacks now devoid of traffic. The second photo point was just outside Fumina South and because I was now so far ahead of our group, it provided an ideal opportunity to snack on my picnic lunch and watch the passing parade. There were several groups of motorcycles including some vintage, classic and modern bikes, all being ridden sensibly, but with vigour through the corners. Our group of around a dozen vehicles was now split up, but Kevin Riley and a motorcycle which had latched onto his Benz’s bumper, had enjoyed a clear run down from Icy Creek. Their fun soon came to an abrupt halt, however, when they caught up to a slow group of classic cars from another local club.

The rest of our group came through in dribs and drabs, but the last few were taking it very easy contending with a Police car in their midst. I had now given up waiting for Mal’s Mini to come through (not knowing that he’d swapped cars) so headed off to Willow Grove chasing down the Ford Capris of Paul Montagnat and Richard Adams.  Roadworks kept our speeds down as we passed through Hill End, but we all arrived together at the Blue Rock Dam picnic area. We parked up, gathered together our picnic gear and retired to a well-grassed shady area beneath a tree not far from the water’s edge where children were enjoying the water. John Fowler couldn’t make the morning’s drive, but he joined us at Blue Rock in his MG Midget for lunch. We all enjoyed a social picnic lunch, sharing cake, coffee, salads and stories before eventually saying our farewells and making our individual ways home. Thanks to Glenn and David for their initiative and organisation in bringing the concept of this event to fruition. We’ll have to do the same again next year.

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Mid-Week Run to Bass – Wednesday 19th Feb.

A late change to my work roster meant that I was now free for the mid-week run to the Bass Hotel.  A quick phone call to John and we were in.

Wednesday dawned wet with rain forecast for most of the day, so the easy decision was made to take the most weather proof of our cars, that being the MX5.  Around 10am we met at the Darnum Stump Tea Room where much convivial conversation was enjoyed over a coffee. Maps were distributed and the route explained by John before setting off at the appointed hour under convoy rules.   Our convoy of approximately 19 cars again represented several countries:  UK – Jaguar, Austin Healey and Mini Cooper S; European cars were – Saab turbo, Porsche 911 and 944 and BMW Z3 and Z4;  Japan was  represented by Datsun 1600 SSS, Mazda MX5 (3) and Subaru WRX (2). A few of our ‘softer’ members chose to drive ‘moderns’ today, leaving the classics at home – obviously due to the weather. If I have left anybody out please accept my apologies.

The chosen route took us south from Darnum & via Hallora, Poowong, Loch, Kernot and Glen Forbes on some great winding sports car roads through beautiful rolling green hills, but with constantly changing weather conditions to the George Bass Hotel in Bass, where we met another seven of our members who took the ‘easy’ route there.

Along the way, Graeme Longhurst had a rather unfortunate and unexplained incident where his Cooper S slid off the road in the wet on a bend. As I said it was unexplained, as no one was driving hard and Graeme’s tyres were not wanting for tread!!  Thankfully it was only a 650kg Mini, so six or so strong men had it back on the road pretty quickly. The only damage (!) being the left front fog light bent back slightly, this was straightened easily, and voila, “She’s good as new” much to Graeme’s relief.

Our illustrious leader had us wondering for a few minutes when, some might say he took a wrong turn only to quickly do a U-turn and return to the unsignposted, correct road !!!  I’ll stick up for you John –  you were just regrouping to ensure we were all together, and so a few short minutes later we arrived  en masse at the Bass Pub where the 45 of us enjoyed a good meal for a great price with good company. The happy chatter continued until around 2:30pm when people slowly drifted off.

A big thanks to John and Jan Fowler for their work in organising these runs which are obviously thoroughly enjoyed judging by the numbers that are regularly turning up.

Words by Allan Richards, photos by John Fowler

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