What a Classic!

Report by Darren Knight. Pics by Phil Wisewould www.philwisewould.zenfolio.com

JUST CARS and Historic Touring Cars kicked off the second year of their partnership in spectacular style at Phillip Island in March. The weather was fantastic and the grids huge, with the welcome return of the Over 3-Litre cars after they took an rostered bye last year. The racing would turn out to be bruising and brutal with frantic action in each of the five races in both capacity classes.

Under 3 Litres. But over the top…

Although the smaller of the two capacity classes, the leading Mazdas and Capris could have been at the pointy end of the big banger race – pole man Jason Humble’s fastest lap of 1.51.2 would have put him among the top five in his RX-2. Bad luck dogged him through the weekend – but heroic drives from the back of the grid won him the much-prized VHRR Driver of the Meeting award.

In Race 1 Humble missed the jump but soon recovered to become involved in a fierce first-lap battle with fellow NSW Mazda man Bill Attard, as David Brown in his HTCAV Championship-winning Datsun 1600 spun off after a huge fight for third.

But coming on to the main straight for the first time Attard had a half-spin in front of the entire field, jamming on the brakes to avoid hitting the inside pit wall. Humble was right behind with no option other than to slam on the anchors himself. The two Rotaries touched; both retired with bent steering. Incredibly, everyone avoided the stationary Mazdas as Wayne Rogerson (RX-2) took the win, after squeezing past the Capri of fellow NSW driver Steve Land on the final lap.

Race 2 saw Brown tag Land, with the RX-2 of local driver Ben Read sustaining damage. Rogerson won from NSW’s Quentin Bland (Capri) and Humble after the first of his incredible back-of-grid drives. In Race 3 Bland couldn’t move off the start after his brakes locked on, allowing Humble to power away to the win from Attard and Read – Rogerson had been slugged a time penalty for an incorrect restart after the safety car to remove Bland`s stricken Capri.

In Race 4, pole man Humble also failed to get going after a battery died just as he gridded up. Attard won from Rogerson (a huge drive up from 15th on the grid) and Read who had some cracking dices with Victorian Rob Burns (Alfa) and SA’s Mini Cooper S fast man Jason Armstrong, who set an incredible 1.54.6 class lap record in the process.

The final race saw Humble again slice his way through the field, just missing the podium by following home Bland in third with Rogerson second and Attard the victor.

Over 3 Litres. Big bangers, big bangs

Tekno McLaren GT3 racer Fraser Ross put his Dad’s Trans Am Mustang on pole for the first Over3-Litre race and skipped away to a race-winning lead in Race 1. Fellow Victorian GT young gun Elliot Barbour (Torana) tangled with WA’s Darryl Hansen (Mustang) sending the Ford off at turn one. The only two Falcon Sprints in the field driven by local Jervis Ward and Qld’s Marty White came a cropper with each other at Siberia, while almost within sight of the flag Vic’s Leo Tobin clouted the pit wall hard in his Mustang after spinning in oil dropped by an exploding Torana engine. Local Andrew Williams (Torana) and the thundering big block Camaro of Warrnambool’s Garry Treloar completed the podium.

Williams muffed the start in Race 2 allowing the Camaro of Darren Pearce to take up the attack on Ross, the Tasmanian squeezing into the lead as Ross climbed all over him. Barbour, Williams and Treloar were three wide into the hairpin, resulting in panel damage to all three after some incredibly intense racing. Pearce slowed with gearbox issues as Ross took the win from ACT’s Ben Wilkinson (Mustang) and the battered Barbour.

In Race 3 Barbour found himself relegated to the back after stewards deemed him to be at fault for the Race 1 incident. Ross grabbed the early lead from Qld’s Craig Allan (Torana) with HTCAV President Les Walmsley making a rocket start in his Charger but held back after Wilkinson bogged down then got sideways off the line.

Sporting his trademark all-black livery, Victorian Rusty French was showing great speed in his stunning new `69 Mustang and challenging the top five as NSW’s Scott Bargwanna (Torana) ended up in the Southern Loop sand trap after contact from the legendary local John Mann who was making a comeback in an ex-Laurie Donaher `69 Camaro. Ross won from Wilkinson and Allan with Barbour charging up to tenth from 39th on the grid!

Ross would not line up on Sunday morning Race 4 four after copping something metallic in his eye during the previous day’s events, necessitating a trip to hospital to remove it. Wilkinson posted fastest lap and looked set to take the win until his Ford stuck in gear at the hairpin on the last lap, allowing Allan to sweep through and take a narrow win from Williams, to make it a Torana 1-2. French was third from Barbour and Harry Bargwanna (Mustang) with Hansen just catching Walmsley at the line to bag 6th.

The final race ended after just two laps when the right front brake calliper on French’s Mustang did not release at the end of the superfast main straight, steering him Scott Bargwanna driving his father’s car. They both cannoned into the bank on the inside of the corner with such force that French wound up in the sand trap on the other side of the track.

Both drivers emerged unhurt, but the same could not be said of their previously pristine mounts. The Armco safety sustained enough damage to finish the meeting’s racing with one event still to run, a less than happy end to an otherwise typically fantastic meeting. Expertly run by the Victorian Historic Racing Register, great support was given by the JUST CARS Historic Tourers, which comprised almost a quarter of the entries.