2012 Australian Grand Prix. Groups A&C

A Grand Adventure

This month Jervis and Bill have a little GP trip

Pics courtesy James Smith. Words Jervis Ward

Yeah, yeah yeah. It does look like Bill and I spend a lot of our time racing. But just for the record you need to know Bill does and I don’t!!

So here’s the story. The VHRR have basically secured a slot at the Grand Prix. They have had it for several years and revolve different categories through it like F5000 and Groups A&C etc. Its a very tenuous slot and they guard it carefully. Any problems and they risk being cut in the future. So they’re on their best behaviour, as we are. And we’re constantly reminded about it too. OH&S and all that, you know!

Late last year some responsible drivers were invited to compete in the Group A&C event in 2012. I was lucky enough to get invited as was Bill and 38 others. The entry fee was very expensive, made up mostly of marquee rental. But I thought it good place to showcase the car.

All invited drivers had to pre-qualify at the previous Sandown Historics or Phillip Island Classic and practice the rolling starts. Rolling starts are deemed “safe” due to the fragile nature or many vehicles. The event had us slotted to practice and qualify on Thursday. Nothing on Friday and then the last race on Saturday at 6.20pm and first race on Sunday at 11.40am. Not ideal, but many of you will know how frustrating dealing with the big boys can be. And there could be no tobacco advertising so that all had to be covered up on cars, A-frames and anything else with it.

In qualifying the 3 BMWs came in 6th, 7th and 8th. Bill first, then David and finally myself. The total difference being 0.15sec.

My car has developed some interesting habits: it likes to sheer off exhaust studs and crack alternator brackets. All the usual things you’d expect from a high revving 4 cylinder engine, with no rubber bushings.

Race 1.

We were not allowed to start racing until we had cleared the apex of turn 2. This guaranteed we all got through turn 1 safely. Bill and I were side by side through turns 3 and 4, until the GIO Commodore spun in front of us, we slowed as the yellow flags and GIANT flashing lights came on, only to be passed by several cars behind us.

Bill and I ran nose to tail for many laps. He’s not easy to pass, and I was trying to work out how to do it. Our cars are very evenly matched but different in braking and cornering. I was still struggling with the stupid crash box and followed Bill as close as I dared, occasionally getting a bit panicy under brakes as I thought I may hit him in the bumper. As a result I had a “moment” on about lap 6, at turn 1, which dropped me back several car lengths. Then on lap 7, going up the back I saw the alternator light come on. She’ll be right I thought? Problem was the fan belt had departed the engine bay and it started to overheat. Then the “Computer says No”.

So I DNF’d on lap 7 of 8. Better than David Towe in the JPS BMW, who kicked a leg out of bed of his new engine on just lap 2. And Poor Jim Richards got T-boned by a repeat offender, who was subsequently not allowed to run the final race and went home with his tail between his legs.

We got my car back to the pit, screwed the alternator adjuster bracket back on properly and dobbed some silicon on it for good luck.

I started race 2 from the rear of the grid in 36th spot. And I had a ball. I only got to pass 25 cars and finished in 11th. Unfortunately our race was cut short to 6 laps instead of 8 and Gentleman Jum was the next car up the road. My best lap for the weekend was a 2.16.03, the fastest of the Beemers. Yeah!

The races were won by some other cars – turbo thingys I think – possibly Datsuns – or is than Nissans?? Dunno…. Anyway, Bill and I…and Jim had a great, fun time and hope to do it again