Report by Geoff Vernon and Chris Ralph. Pics by Phil Wisewould
Race Report by Geoff Vernon
I arrived at Sandown around 11am well rugged up against the cold Melbourne day and wandered through the pits to find the boys.
First up, two BMW 2002s in the garages along the rear fence – Ralphy and Rob Van Stokrom keeping out of the wind and threatening rain. After a good chat with Rob about ever-growing car collections and understanding wives, Ralphy asked me if I’d write a report on the day’s race. Yeah sure, why not.
For a change, Group N isn’t the last category on the program so Race 1 starts at 1.10pm. After catching up with some of the others I head to Coxy’s truck for a chat and to warm up!
After a bite of lunch, the small but hardy band of drivers brave the cold and blustery conditions and saddle up for the first race of the weekend. As I stood on top of the garages wishing I was home in front of a nice roaring log fire, 13 cars are lined up on the dummy grid.
Hang on, 14 qualified this morning. Who’s missing? A quick scan of the grid sheet reveals it’s our club champion – Mr D Brown. A problem? The One Minute board is up, the horn sounds, and the little white Datsun makes its way (hurriedly) through the dummy grid entry. A very close shave DB – just made it!
Colin Larsen, grounded this weekend with a bad case of man flu, helps pole-sitter Darren (Spud) Smith’s crew push start the big Falcon GTHO and the rest of the field follows him out. As they form up on the start line a stiff tail wind is blowing fiercely down the main straight. Up go the revs with the 5 second board, out go the lights and they’re away.
A great start by the Falcon as Nathan Gordon makes up a few places from sixth whilst Andy Lane in the black Mustang disappears in a cloud of his own tyre smoke.
By Turn1, Smith and Keven Stoopman’s Kingswood hold onto first and second and are already starting to gap the field. Nelson’s Capri in third then a bunch of Toranas in hot pursuit.
By the end of the back straight, Smith is well clear. Further back, Brown’s Datsun is mixing it with Gordon, Cotterill and Pillekers in a trio of XU-1s. Pillekers hadn’t qualified all that well back in tenth – I knew why! (see note below).
By lap 3 with Smith and Stoopman way off in the distance, Brown jumps the Toranas, Van Stokrom edges away from the Minis of Read and Pringle, whilst Stupka’s Volvo Amazon cruises by in fourteenth place. Smith’s lead is out to half the main straight by the next lap. Pillekers comes past in front of Brown and Ralphy’s BMW has daylight front and rear.
By lap 5, it’s headlights on for David Moran’s Mustang as he menaces Nelson’s Capri for third place and Read passes Van Stokrom for ninth.
Six laps in and van Stokrom is back in front of Read but the Mini is not going down without a fight.
A lap later Moran retires, the big Mustang going off-song for some reason and allowing Pillekers, who had made his way to the head of the Torana queue, into third place.
Penultimate lap and either Spud has slowed or Keven’s found more speed as the Kingswood is now only five or six seconds behind. Pillekers now well clear in third but the length of the front straight behind the leaders.
Last lap and Smith comes home in a strong first place, with Stoopman six secs behind in 2nd and Pillekers a distant 3rd. Adrian Read beats the BMW home by 3 lengths.
A good clean race and time for me to head down into the pits to find the hot motors of Ralphy and RvS to warm my freezing hands on!
Well there it is. My first race report. I hope Ralphy likes it and I hope you do too.
Note: Earlier whilst catching up with the drivers in the pits, I came across Pillekers Snr moving the driver’s seat back 12mm because Stephen was uncomfortable in the morning’s qualifying session (hence only 10th). And I’ll quote Jon here: “ Steve’s been grazing on green pastures and has put on weight and the belts are too tight!” Good on ya Stebo!
And now for the Sunday.
Race report by Chris Ralph
(Thanks Geoff for that great first report. This subsequent one relies on an old and somewhat tatty memory, some six weeks after the event.)
Generous to a fault, the ASSA had provided us with long races and early starts, and so at 9.10 am the hardy be-icicled (with David Moran a nonstarter) took to the track for nine laps.
Pretty much the same early order was established but on the third lap Ian Pringle, who was driving con brio, tripped and fell on the right hander of the esses coming on to the main straight and served up some Mini Spring Rolls.
In the confusion the leader (Spud Smith) was waved into the pits; perhaps the marshall thought a red flag had been called. But the safety car had been deployed and Spud came out of the pit lane vastly in arrears. He decided to get past the scraggly field in front of him, not by sneakily picking ’em off, but by blasting past boldly to resume his original station. While under the SC for another few laps before the last lap flyer this obviously played on his mind – a black or meatball flag (for someone) was waved, he thought discretion was the better part of valour and retired.
Keven Stoopman took the flag in the 4-dr Monaro (now sold to former Datsun driver Danny Myers) ahead of ex-ACT, now Vic resident Daniel Cotterill and Nathan Gordon. Next came the astoundingly schmick black Mustang of Andrew Lane, finally on the track after a long and no-expense-spared build. Gaining more corner speed with every lap, Andrew was enjoying himself hugely. Welcome to the fray!
David Brown’s Datsun had a lashpad detach from the rockers (I think) which started a small chain reaction with enough damage to later require a pulldown; his retirement further reduced the field.
Only ten cars faced the starter for the 11-lap final. Darren Smith didn’t complete the first lap and it was Stoopman again, flag to flag. Lawrie Nelson’s now very rapid Capri was an early challenger but retired with Daniel Cotterill taking the second spot ahead of Andrew lane. They had travelled in a group of four with Nathan Gordon, and for eight laps Yr. Hmbl. Ed., hanging on and very pleased with himself.
But a lesson in impatience was waiting as the group swooped on Mick Stupka’s Volvo going into Dandenong Rd. Three got past and the silly Ed saw a gap on the outside and had a crack. Which closed as Mick calmly took his line, unaware of the loon behind. A swiping of the wall and a gravel beach were the Ed’s just desserts.