Tattersalls Historic Sandown
A large late run of entries convinced organisers to grant Group N two grids, though it was close run thing, something the class should be aware of for next year.
Words Darren Knight. Pics courtesy James Smith Photography
Under 3 Litre
With a pole time of 1:30.0386, Russell Pilven (Datsun 1600) built an early lead while an intense fight for second erupted between Robert Hare (Capri) and Tasmanians Lew Bush (RX-2) and Chris Ellis (Mini Cooper S). Dean Bryant (Escort 1300GT) had his hands full keeping out the incredibly quick Datsun 1000 of Anthony Read as the Minis of Anthony Ramage and Ted Brewster swapped places. Ramage soon after was served a drive through penalty while Brewster retired after the oil filter gasket came adrift.
Former AUSCAR front runner Mike Oliver retired the ex Hare/Willison EH (now in flash silver war paint) after the throttle cable fell off while Bryant had an excursion at the end of the back straight, spinning off and just smooching the armco before continuing. The EH Holdens of Rod Gelston and HQ racer David Wood (guest steering the Fairlam machine) had a great dice for fifth as Pilven won from Bush and Ellis, then Hare who just beat Wood by .003 of a second. Gelston was sixth, then Roger Howard (Mini), Ian Watt (Triumph 2.5pi), John Bendell (Lotus Cortina) and John Luxmoore (Cortina GT). Fastest lap: Pilven 1:33.0466 (lap four).
Incredibly Pilven suffered the same fate as Oliver, this time on the warm up lap. He would restart from the back but then retire for good half way through as the quick fix failed. Gelston made a great start and was soon into the lead, Bush back up into second on the back straight. Lou Renatos (Cortina) rough weekend continued, soon retiring as did Read with fuel problems. Ellis began to pressure Howard and Watt on the back straight, cheekily going under both in one move on the run down into Dandenong Road corner. Tony Pejkovic (EH) retired with clutch dramas as a huge battle for the lead developed between Gelston, Wood, Ellis and Bush. Gelston just maintained the lead as the trio behind swapped places each lap, all three looking capable of attacking Gelston at any time in one of the most exciting contests the category has ever seen at Sandown.
In fact it came down to the very last corner. Looking to try an inside move, Ellis hurled the Mini under Wood, just catching the ripple strip on the inside and tipping the car onto its lid. Wood spun as a result, Bush was slowed momentarily and Gelston took the win, probably with eyes agog as he looked into the rear view mirror! Watt came through to take second, then Bush, Ramage, Brewster, Howard, Oliver, Wood, Bendell and Luxmoore. Fastest lap: Pilven 1:32.6156 (lap four).
Gelston again led early while Oliver rocketed off the line, soon past Watt to move into third. Pilven meanwhile was slicing through the field, up to fourth in no time as Howard parked his Mini. Bush and Oliver went hammer and tong for second while Pilven rounded them all up and stretched out a comfortable lead, going on to win from Bush then Oliver (a podium in his first Historic meeting, nom less). Wood beat Gelston home for fourth, then Brewster, John Battersby (Mini), Luxmoore, Read and Watt. Fastest lap: Pilven 1:32.4871.
Over 3 Litre
Tony Hubbards new Camaro led fastest qualifier Chris Stillwell (Mustang) early before the 351 Windsor powered beast blasted past on the back straight. Newcomer to the category Gary Edwards retired the ex Len Read Torana after the slave cylinder failed and Steve Bye retired his `68 Trans Am Mustang after it threw a fan belt, a problem that would plague the car all weekend. Fellow Tasmanian Anthony Frost (Torana) also called it quits with a steering problem as Glen Miles (Charger) battled Ford legend Murray Carter, who was guest steering Wayne Purdons Falcon. Paul Zazryn parked the Mk.II Jag with an engine problem as newly – crowned State Series Champion Scott Slater diced with Mt Gambiers Peter Burchell (Mustang). Darrin Davies (Monaro) was safe in third but couldn’t make inroads on Hubbard, old tyres with little grip hampering his efforts.
In his last ever meeting John Mann had struggled through qualifying with the Mustang not on song, then fell from sixth on the last lap. Stillwell won by a little over a second from Hubbard then Davies and Robert Braune (Charger), who just beat home Jervis Ward (Nb Mustang). The Kingswood of Phil Dunkin was next, then the warring Mustangs of Bill Trengrove and Michael Bugelly who crossed the line virtually together. Slater and Mann completed the top ten. Fastest lap: Stillwell 1:21.1987 (lap three).
Braune would not start after the Hemi six suffered ugly things internally towards the end of race one. Stillwell got the jump on Hubbard while Bye retired after getting into the top ten on the opening lap. Bugelly found a way past Dunkin then launched into a huge battle with Trengrove that would rage all race. Carter retired with an ignition problem while Manns career ended disappointingly when the `Stang blew a head gasket. Slater and Burchell again mixed it up as Hubbard also retired with an ignition malady that would end his meeting. Eddie Dobbs (Torana) diced hard with Tasmanian John Zeigler (`67 Camaro) towards the end as Stillwell won from Davies and Ward. Trengrove just beat Buges by the proverbial Bees "member" while Dunkin was next then the steadily improving Nb Mustang of Tino Leo. Slater narrowly beat home Burchell as did Grant Patullo (John Brash Monaro) over Miles. Fastest lap: Stillwells 1:20.7197 (set on lap two) just failed to beat Paul Stubbers lap record of 1:20.5700, set in 2002.
The warm weather continued, effectively ruling out any thoughts Stillwell had of trying to go under Stubbers record with the track now hot and slightly greasy. Mark Brewster (Torana) lined up after blowing a head gasket in race one then having dramas with new gaskets, just making it in time for a start. Davies hooked up very nicely and swept into the lead around the outside of Stillwell at turn one. Patullo lobbed the HK into the sand at turn one, bringing the Safety Car out shortly after. Stillwell went back into the lead when the green flags came out while Dunkin and Buges argued over fourth, Trengrove and Leo also having a great stoush for sixth. Making his car racing debut in this meeting after a number of seasons karting was Elton (son of Garry) Treloar), and was having an excellent run to be in 12th in the famous #99 Charger. Davies tried hard but in the end Stillwell made it a clean sweep, Davies second and Ward another podium. Dunkin beat Bugelly then next was Leo by the smallest of margins over Trengrove. Slater was eighth then Brewster and Miles. Fastest lap: Stillwell 1:24.2923 (lap two). Mann brought the Mustang out on the last lap to say goodbye to the flaggies and the crowd for the final time, bringing to a close a long and successful career, particularly in Historic Tourers where he really was the benchmark for many, many years. Thanks for the memories Manny.