31st Historic Winton
Winton's reputation for terrible weather at Historics time again proved unfounded, with glorious conditions across the weekend.
By Darren Knight. Pics Neil Hammond
The brave souls who attended the V8 Supercars the previous weekend would disagree however, the many puddles still in the paddock a week later proof of the heavy rain those spectators endured. For the first time the big Historic Tourer grid would be split into Nb and Nc, in contrast to the usual fastest and slower groupings.
Henry Draper made one of his rare appearances and showed he has lost absolutely none of his Mini maestro skills. Draper landed pole and was untouchable in both scratch races, winning easily from Andy Clempson in the only Mustang entered. The most exciting racing was found a little further back between a whole fleet of Minis.
In the first scratch race Tasmanian Chris Ellis just beat home fellow Cooper S drivers Pete Melick and Lindsay Seibler, who was competing in his first circuit race for nearly twenty years after being one of the leading Brick punters in the mid eighties. Len Read (Mini) was close behind in sixth then Ian Pringle (his Mini converted back to Nb after previously running as Nc), fellow Croweater Paul Atkins (Cortina), Tassie Grant Bingley (ex Bailey/Sluce EH) and Ted Brewster (Mini).
Draper again leapt out to a big lead in race two as Mike Oliver (EH) ran wide at turn one and Clempson and Seibler had a great battle in the early stages for second. Jerry Lenstras horror run at Winton continued after he clouted the wall at turn two and ripped off a wheel.
The Imp lunched an engine in major fashion at last years event. Eddie Dobbs was finally having a good run with the ex Blanchard FE, hounding Brian Deveson (Cortina) with Brent Trengrove (EH) also joining in. Bingley had wild excursions at turn one in consecutive laps, electing to bail out and watch after the second lose into the sand. Draper won from Clempson and Seibler, who held out Read, Ellis and Melick after another fantastic dice. Pringle was seventh then Atkins, Brewster and Anthony Ramadge (Mini).
Sydney Mini steerer Troy Williams won the handicap from Ramadge and Mick Stupka (Imp).
Pole man Robert Braune (Charger) was equally dominant with two wins but there were some great battles for the minor placing's. Drama unfolded at turn one of the first scratch race when the fast starting Alfa GTV 2000 of Spencer Rice was tapped into a spin after a clash between front row starter Rob Burns (Charger) and Tony Hubbard (Camaro). Rice received heavy damage to the rear of the Alfa after at least three of the following pack could not avoid him. Ian Watt (Triumph 2500PI) retired after he also received a knock in the melee, the engine actually found (post- race) to have moved on its mounts.
Queenslander Kevin Heffernan, driving his father Johns original Group C Torana (now running as Nc) had a great battle with Harry Bargwanna (Capri) while Don Knights wretched weekend finished after the Twin Cam Escort holed the block.
During free practice on Friday, Knights Graham Ritter-liveried Ford had sustained heavy damage after the Bingley EH spun and rolled back into his path. Braune took an easy win from Burns and Hubbard after an intense and sometimes heated battle for second.
Alf Bargwanna (Torana) was next then Gary Jackson (HQ Monaro), Heffernan and Harry Bargwanna. Finishing its debut in eighth was the brand new Anthony Read RX-2, which had recovered from fuel pump wiring dramas on the warm up lap. Michael Hibbert was almost alongside in ninth (the third Charger in the top ten) with John Bourke (Torana) completing first ten.
The second scratch race was a much calmer event, again easily won by Braune who was nevertheless giving the Mopar the berries onto the front straight and getting the tail way out there. Hubbard held out Burns for second by a very small margin with Alf Bargs fourth then Heffernan, Jackson, Gary O`Brien (HQ Kingswood), Harry Bargs, Hibbert and Edwards.
Bill Cutler (BMW 2002) was the first of the four cylinders in both scratch races by finishing 11th in both events. The handicap was red flagged while Watt led Paul Dobson (XT GT Falcon) and Dean Bryant (Escort 1300GT) after Alf Bargwanna spun and was collected lightly by Gary Edwards (Torana) who stalled. Just as the red flag came out Edwards got going again but it was too late.
The new Ford versus Holden/GM race was also cut short when Peter Owens BDA Escort expired and dropped copious amounts of oil on the front straight, lobbing him into the sand at turn one. Burns, Braune and Justin Browns BMW 2002 all followed him in after slipping off on the slick.