BREAKFAST CLUB, Warragul – Sunday 9th January.

The threat of Omicron raging through the crowd at Warragul Woolies’ car park, infecting all those present, failed to deter around 90 special vehicles and their proud custodians from gathering at our monthly rendezvous. Once again, the weather was perfect and the carpark started filling well before the advised starting time of 8am. As well as the regular stalwarts, many of whom travel considerable distances to attend, we received visits from a group of Clubman sports cars and a group of Prince Skylines which seem to have made this an annual pilgrimage. MX5 owners were also present in good numbers as were the classic Coopers S Minis with three parked side by side.

What makes this monthly event so alluring is the huge diversity of makes and models spanning more than half a century of automotive design and development. It is especially pleasing to see the range of sporting vehicles that regularly turn up, always adding a touch of spice into the mix.

Your correspondent needed to make an early departure from the event, so apologies to those who were left out of the photos.

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BREAKFAST CLUB, Warragul – Sunday 12th December

Breakfast Club gatherings were hit savagely this year by the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, our last one being back in April; but with caps on the size of gatherings now removed, it was business as usual on the second Sunday of December in the Warragul Woolies’ carpark.

Thankfully the weather turned out fine, which must have enticed many participants to arrive early. Some, I believe, an hour or more before the prescribed starting time; so when your correspondent arrived at 7:45am, the southern section of the carpark was already nearing capacity. The gathering grew steadily throughout the morning reaching somewhere in excess of 80 vehicles at its peak. As usual, we attracted sports and classic cars from far and wide. There were people from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula, the Yarra Valley and of course our many supporters from the Latrobe Valley area. It was great to meet up with so many people that we’d missed over the lockdown periods, and to catch up on their latest automotive endeavours.

I know that it’s hard to believe, but this year happens to be the 50th anniversary of the Valiant Charger. With little prior opportunity to celebrate this significant occasion, our small Charger fraternity stepped up to mark at this event with four Chargers side by side drawing plenty of attention from the passing crowd. As usual, the vehicles on display were as eclectic as ever with a high standard of presentation. One rare little beast that turned up this month was a Giocattolo – one of 15 mid-engined, Holden V8 powered, Alfa Romeo Sprint-bodied specials built in Australia between 1986 and 1989. It was also tremendous to see so many topless sports cars taking advantage of the conditions, I was tempted to take my coupe home and return with a roadster – next month perhaps 🙂

COMMENTS:

Grant Buck: “Thanks for the great pictures as always Steve! Was great to catch up with many people I have not seen in ages. Have a great Christmas everyone!”

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CHRISTMAS OUTING TO AGNES FALLS and BBQ LUNCH at LEONGATHA. Sunday 5th December

With over 80 people in 42 cars booking in during the weeks prior to the event, this was certainly going to be one of our largest club outings since the Covid pandemic began. John Cobbledick was the man in charge and despite concerns with weather, traffic, parking and overcrowding, the sun came out and things ran smoothly enough, with everyone arriving back at John and Kira’s farm in Leongatha after a beautiful drive through the Strzeleckis, stopping at Mirboo North for morning tea, before continuing down to Agnes Falls near Toora.

The BBQ lunch was provided by the Club, but special thanks to Kira especially, and John for all their work in ordering and preparing the nibblies, BBQ, salads and desserts that everybody enjoyed so much. John’s massive workshop/garage was as immaculate as ever, and made a terrific venue, bedecked with Christmas decorations and plenty of automotive regalia to admire.

After lunch, people enjoyed a relaxing afternoon under the shady trees or admiring the carpark and property before farewelling our hosts and heading home.

It was terrific seeing so many members out enjoying their sporting and classic cars together again and we look forward to our first Breakfast Club in Warragul for over 6 months, next Sunday. I’m sure it will be another very well-attended event.

Many thanks to John Cobbledick for pulling the event together after our Birthday Bash was cancelled due to Covid, and of course John and Kira Moore for inviting the Club to their property and being the perfect hosts.

COMMENTS:

Jenny Honey – “Ian and I enjoyed the delightful pre Christmas gathering thankyou to John Cobbledick, John and Kira and the Club.  Steve for the write up and photos also as usual.  That huge immaculate shed and car collection was rather impressive!”

David McDermott – “My daughter and I really enjoyed the day, it was her first outing in the classic car. Had a great time catching up with friends. Merry Christmas to all.”

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BRYANT PARK HILLCLIMB VISIT, Saturday 20th Nov.

Hidden in the Haunted Hills near Newborough is the Gippsland Car Club’s motorsport venue Bryant Park. It is arguably the best hillclimb facility in the country with large asphalted car parks, garages, huge modern multi-purpose clubrooms, and a smooth, wide hot-mix track that can be configured into a range of different layouts up to 2 kilometres in length. Several Sporting Register members regularly compete here, but this outing was to give non-competitors a chance to experience the track at a less frantic pace.

The day began with an assembly at the Darnum Stump Tearooms before our tour director, Ian Maud led the convoy on some interesting back roads up to Thorpdale for morning tea. Unfortunately, Paul Mogensen’s E-Type (which he had lent to some friends to drive), was a late arrival after discovering one of the Jag’s steering rack mounts had broken and had required some bush-mechanicing to become driveable again. Lashings of nylon clothes-line rope kept the rack in place, but it wasn’t to be trusted on the hillclimb track. Nevertheless, the Jag continued on and its occupants enjoyed being driven around the track in several other vehicles.

Leaving Thorpdale, the convoy headed into the hills around Coalville with a brief stop at the old railway station site where Ian pointed out some historical remnants of this once thriving town. We then made our way along a beautifully winding road towards Hearns Oak where we crossed the highway and entered the Haunted Hills not far from Bryant Park.

John Fowler’s S-Type Jag had developed an incontinence issue with a leaking heater hose, so it remained in the hillclimb carpark whilst the rest of the gang played follow the leader for a series of 3-lap circuits around the track. After becoming familiar with the layout, drivers were then able to use the track at will, many taking passengers or riding in other cars to experience the difference. It was early afternoon when Shane Slatter arrived in his red, later-model E-type. He had expected to arrive earlier but the Jag had problems with gummed-up carburettor needles from using ethanol-based fuels. Shane managed to clean them up and he arrived in time for a few laps before we pulled the pin and called it a day. What was it with Jaguars on this day? I followed Shane back to his turnoff near Yarragon and John managed to get home by running with a loose radiator cap to prevent pressure forcing water out the broken heater hose. I hope that Paul’s E-Type steered itself home safely as well.

It was a terrific turnout with more than twenty members’ cars getting onto the track at various stages during the day. The weather stayed fine and nobody blotted their copybook. Thank you to Ian for arranging access to the venue and organising the tour, everybody involved seemed to have a thoroughly good time.

Steve

COMMENTS

Peter Willmott: Yes, Ian and Steve did an excellent job in organising and photographing the day. It was my first time at Bryant Park and being able drive the track in a controlled and relaxed manner was great and I believed everyone (in spite of their Jaguar problems ) had a great day. Thanks again.

John Stoker: What a fantastic exercise to run around the track, absolutely loved it. Can see why drivers take up racing. Many thanks to Ian and Steve – great day.

Mal Collins: Shame the day was changed, I was looking forward to it on Sunday. Bowls commitment on Saturday.
Never mind, I’m glad the day went well for you all and the weather was kind as well.
Bryant Park is a great asset to this area, Cheers Mal Collins.

Stan Hodgson: Thanks Ian & Steve for a great day. We met the group at Thorpy where we enjoyed a nice Latte and Apple Crumble. Driving back through Coalville & Narracan stopping for a short history lesson from Ian about Coalville. Arriving at Bryant Park where I have visited several times, which is just across the paddock from my home. It was a great experience to do several laps guiding the Mustang around the tight corners getting the head spinning. Thanks for the great day out.

John Hogbin: A big Thankyou to all the drivers that helped in making this such a wonderful day for my grandson.

Rob Nolan: Congratulations & appreciation to Ian & Steve for organizing such a great day!
Excellent & enjoyable route traveled to Bryant Park. A brilliant day was had by all, honing the driving skills & getting the corner approach lines right. Big personal thanks to Steve & Ian for the experienced cornering & braking tips!

Peter Bradley: What a blast! Haven’t experienced  an adrenaline  rush like that for a while. Wonderful day to be out enjoying the company of fellow club members again. Another scenic drive with  interesting history thrown in.
                  Thanks Ian and thanks Steve.

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MONTHLY DINNER MEETING, Drouin Golf Club – Thursday 18th November

Members enjoyed what was our final dinner meeting for this on-again, off-again year, on an evening when the government finally lifted all restrictions on density caps and numbers at hospitality venues, retail and other forms of gatherings across the state. With some form of normality now returning, we can confidently look forward to a more active car club during 2022 – at least for those of us who are fully vaccinated.

Daylight saving and warmer weather now provides us with an extra opportunity at our monthly dinner meetings, to display half a dozen or so of our members’ sporting and classic vehicles on the road in front of the function centre. Unfortunately, planting an ugly great SUV in the middle of this display area used up the space where another classic (or two) could have parked, and ruined the opportunity for a group photograph this month. Thank you though, to those members who brought along their classics and displayed them in front of the building, it’s always great to see these special cars out and about. When we hold events at this venue, please remember to park your SUVs, utes and Camrys in the general car park and leave the area outside the function centre for the types of cars that we, as a club like to encourage.

On display inside the dining room this month was Ed Denovan’s latest acquisition, an immaculate 1987 Mercedes 560 SEC. This model was the Mercedes flagship coupe of the 1980s and was based on the S-class W126 chassis. The 560 was powered by the largest engine in the range driving through a 4-speed automatic transmission. Despite being such a heavy car, the 5.6 litre, 220kw V8 could achieve a 0-100km/h time of 7 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h. “It’s a lovely car to cruise in” says Ed, “but very thirsty!”

After a glowing assessment from his brother-in-law, Ed purchased the car sight unseen through Shannons on-line auctions during one of Victoria’s extended lockdowns. When new, it had initially been sold in Sydney before being picked up by a collector and eventually another enthusiast who looked after it very well and kept a thorough documented history of its maintenance. The odometer shows 260,000km but because of the car’s condition you could easily believe it was half that distance. As a flagship model, the 560SEC is very well equipped. Ed likes the large steering wheel which makes for more relaxed driving, and the seat-belt butler which delivers the seat belt to within easy reach whenever you turn the car on. He also likes the white-wall tyre look which are in fact ‘flappers’ fitted to the wheels sitting up against the tyres.

Physically, it’s a much bigger car than it first appears. There is a huge boot area and the interior has ample room for 4 adults who access the pillarless coupe through its large doors. Perhaps it was an incentive when purchasing the car, but Ed is now looking forward to driving his son and daughter around in it when they return to Australia early next year.

COMMENTS:

John Cobbledick – Love your comments about the UGLY  SUV  Steve . Could not agree more.

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BRYANT PARK HILLCLIMB, Sunday 7th November

It had been a long time between drinks. The last hillclimb at this spectacular venue was back in May – just before the State plunged into its final lockdown, so there were plenty of people keen to put the helmet back on and reacquaint themselves with the track. Seventy-three entries and the longest version of the track meant that there was a fair wait between runs for competitors, but that time was well spent catching up with mates and admiring the incredible range of machinery in the pits.

Four members of the Sporting Register were competing on the day and it was great to see Allan Richards assisting on the start line. These events can’t run without the help of many officials who volunteer their time so that those participating can enjoy a fun and safe event. A big thank you to all who officiated at this event, it ran like clockwork. As far as I know there was only one minor track incident when an MGB left the track and came to rest against an embankment after the splines in the steering wheel boss stripped, resulting in a car that didn’t respond to the driver’s steering inputs. Frightening, but thankfully there was no damage to the car or driver, leaving the recovery teams little to do.

Fastest of our little quartet was Jim McNiven in his Toyota Corolla, a very well sorted car that had been sitting idle for almost 18 months. Jim suffered “Brain Fade” on his first run, entirely forgetting to repeat the bottom loop of the track and arriving back at the finish line with what would have been the fastest time of the day, if it had been allowed. Later in the day Jim made amends for his mistake by recording a time of 88.53 seconds which placed him 12th outright in the results.

Ian Maud was our next fastest competitor with a best time of 92.33 seconds in his Fiat X 1/9, placing 23rd outright. Ian is still working at improving the performance and reliability of the mid-engined 1500cc Fiat. He was pleased to finally have a chance to run on his set of sticky Avon race slicks that were purchased pre-lockdown and hardly used since. This time the car held together and his times kept improving.

Ahead of Ian up until the last couple of runs, Steve Schmidt’s historic racing Cooper S turned in consistent runs varying by no more than 0.6 of a second between his slowest and fastest time – a 93.42 on the last run, placing him in 29th outright and five places ahead of John Moss in the red, 2.5 litre “Improved Production” BMW. John’s best lap time was 93.91 seconds, recorded on the third of his four runs. John also stood in as an event Steward on the day and we hope that he didn’t have too many issues to contend with.

The weather was fantastic, the track was in excellent condition and food van gets a 9 out of 10 for their Breckie Burger. Thank you to the Gippsland Car Club for helping us on the road back to normality.

NOTE: If you would like to have a non-competitive drive around the Bryant Park circuit just to see what it’s like, the Sporting Register are having a social drive to the venue on Sunday 21st November.

Details are in the November edition of IDLE CHATTER.

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