The Sounds of Thunder
November 9-10 2006
Words – Graham Slater, Pictures – Neil Hammond
With the VHRR the annual classic Historic Sandown as the return of the thunder, there was no doubt, we were under pressure to deliver the goods. A strong field of Formula 5000’s, an ever growing field of Group A & C original tourers, and to top it off a head on clash with a Biante round at Symons Plains V8 Super car round had the potential to leave Historic Tourers looking a little light on for numbers. Fortunately the troops rallied and we received support from as far away as Western Australia, and as close as Tasmania, South Australia and of course NSW.
Great stuff! A grand total of 53 quality cars and the promise of some spectacular action. With the numbers split into under 3 litre (25 cars) and over 3 litre (28 cars), the fields looked pretty well balanced on performance.
With bright sunny conditions the order of the day the under 3 litre cars opened the proceedings with Russell Pilven’s Datsun 1600 taking the pole slot with a 1.30.9sec. Brendan Hare was next in the V6 Capri 1.32.1sec (the wrong choice of camshafts for the meeting nobbling the V6’s potential), Brent Trengrove (1.33.6), and Mike Oliver (1.33.8) placed their rapid EH Holden’s on row two. Ian Pringle & Ted Brewster slotted their respective Cooper S’s into the top ten along with the Paul Trevethan’s Lotus Cortina, Peter Owens RS1600 Escort, Ian Watt (Triumph Mk 2 PI) and an elated Simon Browning (Cortina Mk1) rounding out the top 10.
Just outside the top ten the Peter Backhouse prepared Escort 1300 GT Of Dean Bryant had an all to tenuous lead over Tassie tiger Rod Gelston (EH), South Aussie Stuart Barnes (Cortina),current State Champ John Bendall (Lotus Cortina),Colin Doolan (Cortina GT), Ian Cuss (Triumph 2000),Steven White (Mazda RX2), the GT Cortina’s of Brian Deveson and “Fast Johnny Luxmoore made up the top twenty. While at the back of the grid a frustrated Don Knight was lamenting the ongoing throttle linkage problems that had put the twin cam Escort back with the tail enders.
When the over 3 Litre cars hit the tarmac the serious contenders were darn near doing it at full race pace. Les Walmsley in the GTHO and Tony Hubbard in the 1968 Camaro were so close the expectation from onlookers was they could touch but in true professional style the two top contenders finished the session unmarked with Hubbard on pole (1.22.4sec) with Walmsley alongside just a whisker away (1.22.9sec).
Jervis Ward’s Group Nb Mustang shared the second row with the E-49 Charger of Rob Burns, while the Mustangs of Lyndon Punshon, Darryl Hansen (Ex Stillwell Mach 1), Andy “Hollywood” (“I didn’t really fall over at the bar & bend my leg out of shape the floor was very wet”) Clempson and Geoff Taylor’s XU1 filled the next 2 rows. Mark Brewster (XU1),and Geelong’s Barwon Timber baron Bill Trengrove (Nb Mustang), rounded out the hotly contested top ten.
The Mustangs of Mike Bugelly and veteran Tino Leo were surrounded by a brace of XU1’s led by Doug Growcott, Marty Lambert, Mansfield’s fastest retiree Brian Dermott, Lawrie Nelson and Gary O’Brien’s V8 4 door Kingswood. The Toranas of Michael Lemmens, Stuart & Alan Brown (Alan’s former 186 LC model, now sporting an LJ body and a 202 power plant), while Peter Sneddon (LC-XU1), Gary Burton (Jaguar MK11) and NSW veteran racer Dave Clement (Torana) had the job of pushing the field around. The award for the best lateral thinker would have to go to Dave Clements spanner Andrew who when the Sydney sider limped into the pits with a handful of gear lever quickly grabbed a pair of vice grips clamped them onto the lever stump & sent Dave out to complete the session. Mechanical issues were minimal for the afternoon race with the exception of gearbox selection problems on the Trengrove Mustang and low oil pressure on Stuart Brown yellow Torana.
Yes all looked good for some healthy action later that afternoon.
Under 3 Litre Race 1.
As expected from the practice times Russell Pilven lit up the Datsun as soon as the flag dropped and in spite of a bagful of revs Brendan Hare’s 3 litre Capri just could not match the 1600cc power plants output. Initially not to far behind Trevethan’s Lotus Cortina, Brent Trengove & Mike Oliver (EH Holden’s),the Cooper S’s of Ted Brewster & Ian Pringle and the close matched duo of Stuart Barnes & Ian Watt tried in vain to stay on the pace.
With Pilven long gone, the main interest lay a little further back in the field, as Trengrove’s EH struggled on drum brakes to match the experienced Trevethan who was using every braking & handling advantage the Lotus Cortina had to stay ahead. Brewster & Pringle was en entertaining dice the wily veteran not showing any sign of submitting in spite of Pringle’s constant attempts.
Mark Shatz in the BMW 2002 had fought through from the back of the grid (a penalty of missing practice) and was fast catching up, along with a fired up Don Knight (with full throttle at last) and the Cortina GT of Brian Deveson. Helen Lindner’s Cooper S had recovered from an oil pressure line problem in practice but was way to far back to challenge Pringle & Brewster.
Mike Oliver’s race was run on lap 5, as the rapid silver EH expired but in typical never say die form Mike would ready the vintage Holden to return to the fray on Sunday.
Rusell Pilven’s Datsun went on to an all to easy win, from Brendan Hare,with Paul Trevethan some 20 seconds in arrears a distant third. Brent Trengrove managed to keep Ted Brewster at bay for fourth spot. Then came Ian Pringle, Stuart Barnes, Ian Watt, Colin Doolan, and Rod Gelston just ahead of Simon Browning’s fast finishing Cortina.
Results: 1st. Russell. Pilven. Datsun 1600. 1.31.7sec. 2nd. Brendan. Hare. Capri V6. 3RD. Paul.Trevethan. Lotus Cortina
Over 3 Litre. Race 1.
There was an air of anticipation around the first of the “big banger” races. The clash of the titans loomed as Hubbard fired the Camaro out of the pole slot only to see Walmsley’s GT crawl away from the line crippled by the typical twenty cent part breakage – a snapped throttle linkage. With that challenge gone it was up to the Mustang quartet trio of Ward, Punshon, Hansen and Clempson plus Rob Burns Charger to challenge the fast disappearing GM Muscle machine. The Torana XU-1’s led by Mark Brewster, Geoff Taylor, Doug Growcott, Marty Lambert and Brian Dermott looked set to devour the remaining Mustangs of Mike Bugelly and Tino Leo, when totally out of the blue the Shepparton based veteran had a frightening moment on the top of the rise on the back straight leaving the track at very high speed. The Mustang flew up in the air and struck the Armco very hard, badly damaging the whole front of the car. Thankfully Tino was OK though a little shaken, later contemplating how such a incident occurred.
The resulting delay to clear the wreckage enabled Les Walmsley’s crew to effect some running repairs to the XYGT and by the time the race was restarted Les refocused on wearing down the flying Hubbard. Growcott’s challenge soon expired with an annoying oil surge problem, joining Lawrie Nelson in the dead Torana car park. This left Brewster, Taylor, Lambert and Brian Dermott to carry the XU1 flag. Bill Trengrove had worked steadily through the field & was sitting in sixth place just a whisker in front of Hansen’s ex-Stillwell Mach 1, and the “Lil Green”, sixty four Mustang of Andy Clempson. Peter Sneddon’s 186 engined LC XU-I was performing well until a clutch problem forced the Linamint coupe into the dead zone along with the Gary Edwards Torana with yet another broken gearbox. Not a good look for the GMH product with 4 of the normally reliable XU1’s out of action.
Walmsley’s challenge failed to materialise and it was a stress free win to Tony Hubbard’s Camaro from Rob Burns after a close tussle with the rapid Nb Mustang of Jervis Ward.
Mark Brewster took out the Torana battle from Geoff Taylor and a fired up Marty Lambert. Gary O’Brien was next in the V8 HQ, followed by Brian Dermott and a fast recovering Dave Clement.
Weather permitting Sunday’s racing held the promise of some switched on action.
Results: 1st. Tony. Hubbard. Chevrolet Camaro. Fastest lap 1.23.5sec. 2nd. Rob.Burns. Charger E49. 3rd. Jervis. Ward. Ford Mustang
Sunday’s weather looked a little threatening early and those in doubt were ready to “chuck” on the wet weather rubber at the first sign of precipitation. Fortunately the track was dry for the first race in and Russell Pilven was again the hot favourite for a win in the under 3 litre category.
Under 3 Litre Race 2.
Right from the drop of the start flag it was Pilven’s Datsun into the lead from a frustrated Hare the V6 Capri still unable to haul the blue 1600 up and down the power sensitive Sandown straights. Anxious for a good result on the mainland Tassie EH punter Rod Gelston quickly dropped the hammer on Trevethan’s Lotus Cortina, Ted Brewster Cooper S, Brent Trengrove’s EH and Brendan Wilson’s FC Holden. Don Knight was pushing the Twin Cam Escort hard and began to pressure Trengrove for fourth place. Ian Watt’s Triumph 2500PI was only just holding Ian Pringle’s Cooper at bay while Colin Doolan (Cortina), Mark Schatz (BMW) and Helen Lindner (Cooper S), had a three to four second buffer over Bendall, Craven, Deveson and Steve Whites in the RX2.
Russel Pilven went on to another solid victory around two seconds clear of Hare’s Capri and a long gap back to Rod Gelston’s EH in third place.
Results: 1ST Russell Pilven. Datsun 1600 Fastest lap 1.32.39sec. 2nd Brendan Hare. Capri V6. 3rd Rodney. Gelston. Holden EH.
Over 3 Litre Race. 2.
As with the first race on Saturday Hubbard’s well prepared Camaro looked to be facing a strong challenge not only from Rob Burns Charger, the revitalised GT Falcon OF Les Walmsley a whole bunch of Mustangs led by Jervis Ward, Bill Trengrove , Daryl Hanson’s 351 fastback and Andy Clempson were right on the spot waiting for the GM product to falter.
Hubbard got a great start and quickly led the field up the back straight. Walmsley had blasted past Burns into second with Ward, Hanson, and Clempson, in hot pursuit. Mark Brewster was the first of the Torana’s from Gary O’Brien’s HQ 308, then came Mike Bugelly’s 67 Mustang coupe, and a whole bunch of closely matched XU1’s, led by Doug Growcott, Brian Dermott, Dave Clement (NSW), Marty Lambert, Lawrie Nelson, Alan Brown, Peter Sneddon and finally Stuart Brown. The big Torana dice was another race within the main event and providing the crowd with lots of action after the V8’s had gone by.
In spite of maximum effort the yellow XY GT just couldn’t haul in the flying Camaro and a happy Tony Hubbard took a clear win from Les Walmsley and the third placed Charger of Rob Burns.
Results: 1st Tony.Hubbard. Chevrolet Camaro Fastest lap 1.22.82sec. 2nd Les.Walmsley. Falcon XYGT. 3rd Rob Burns Charger E49.
Le Grande Finale – Under and Over.
Under 3 Litre Race 3.
With a little extra tweaking between races Brendan Hare’s team was keen to put maximum pressure on the Pilven Datsun. Mike Oliver had sharpened up the EH with a clear goal to keep ,both Trengrove and Gelson off the podium, while the Cooper S’s of Ted Brewster and Ian Pringle were well positioned on the grid to slip up the ladder should the bigger EH’s falter.
Pilven again got the jump on Hare’s Capri but this time the V6 was closer. Rod Gelston was the first of the Holden’s closely shadowed by Brent Trengrove, Trevethan’s Lotus, Knights Escort then Brewster and Pringle’s battling Cooper’s, just ahead of Ian Watt in the fuel injected Triumph 2500PI. Colin Doolan held a narrow lead over the Cortina’s of John Bendall and Stuart Barnes, while Mark Shatz had the rapidly improving BMW 2002 comfortably clear of Dean Bryant’s Escort 1300 GT, Stephen Whites RX2, Simon Browning (Cortina), Len Read’s Cooper S and fast Johnny Luxmoore in the ever green Cortina GT.
While the unchanging battle continued up front between Pilven and Hare Mike Oliver had rapidly pushed through the field and slipped by first the retiring Lotus of Trevethan, then Gelston and Trengrove to slip into third slot.
Russell Pilven went on to win number three by two seconds again from Brendan Hare and Mike Oliver another two seconds clear of Brett Trengrove.
Results: 1st Russell. Pilven. Datsun 1600 Fastest lap 1.30.86sec. 2nd Brendan Hare. Capri V6. 3RD Mike. Oliver. Holden EH.
Over 3 Litre. Race 3.
If you were a betting person you would have to place an even money bet on the big banger final. Hubbard had taken the first two races but with Walmsley right next to the Camaro this time the odds looked pretty even. Once again Ward, Burns, Hansen and Clempson were right there on the next two rows just waiting for the primary players to make a mistake it would be a sizzler.
Hubbard’s Camaro got another great start and led Walmsley’s GT Rob Burns Charger and the Mustangs of Ward, Clempson closely followed by Mark Brewster’s Torana XU1, then Gary O’Brien’s V8 HQ and South Australian Lyndon Punshon (Mustang), who had made a brilliant start from 19th grid spot to be in the top ten by the end of the first lap.
The XU1’s of Dave Clements and Doug Growcott were also quickly working through the field as were the similar cars of Laurie Nelson, Brian Dermott and Marty Lambert.
All hell broke loose on lap two when the XU1’s of Alan Brown and Marty Lambert were taken out in a big incident at the top of the back straight when Lambert’s engine blew causing a re-start while the track was cleared of debris fortunately both drivers were OK but both cars would out of the restart. Tony Hubbard again took the start for the second time and drove a brilliant calculated race to once again take the chequered flag from Les Walmsley, the hard charging Rob Burns, Jervis Ward, Lyndon Punshon, Andy Clempson and Daryl Hanson in the last of the Mustangs.
Doug Growcott was the first of the Torana’s, closely followed by Dave Clement, Mike Bugell’s Mustang and Gary O’Brien.
Results: 1st Tony Hubbard. Chevrolet Camaro Fastest lap 1.22.99sec. 2nd Les Walmsley Falcon GT. 3RD Rob Burns. Charger E49.
Summary: Once again in conjunction with the MG Car Club the VHRR had pulled off another great Sandown Historic we all look forward to the next great Historic event from the VHRR at Shannon’s Historic meeting at Phillip Island in March 2007.