Fantastic Nb Racing
Words Darren Knight. Pics Courtesy Neil Hammond and Martin Creely
Rumours of the Mini entrants requesting recent visitor, the Dalai Lama, to bring forth a holy rainstorm amounted to nothing, as glorious sunshine prevailed over the weekend.
The red flag came out in race one before the completion of the first lap after Ian Pringle’s Mini split a diff housing. David Moran (Mustang) beat pole winner Andy Clempson (Mustang) off the line at the restart as the usual gigantic Winton short track Mini battles erupted in earnest.
The crowd were also entertained with perhaps the biggest roll up of Na cars seen in Victoria. The two Austin A30s of Greg Payne and Allan Bryson were joined by the Simca Aronde of Geoff Rose and the magnificent Mk VII Jag of John Tupicoff.
Clempson slipped into the lead on the last lap and took the win (along with fastest lap) from Jason Armstrong (Mini) with Moran third. John Harrison (ex Greg Nichols Mustang) had overcooked a late lunge for third place and fell off at the end of the back straight, glancing the tyre bundle on the way through.
Behind Moran in third was Nick Cascone (Cortina), with the Minis of Robert Ford, Pete Melick, Anthony Ramadge, James Willson, Stephen Bruce and Helen Lindner (from 17th on the grid – go Hellcat) rounding out the top ten.
Another red flag curtailed the early going in race two after Ted Brewster bogged his brick at turn two. Clempson stalled and fell to dead last at the restart with the field doing well to avoid the stationary Hollywood.
Armstrong made the most of it by grabbing the lead after falling off at the sweeper whilst leading before the red flag.
He was never headed despite the best efforts of runner up Cascone. Ford was third from Melick, Moran, Ramadge, Bruce, Harrison, Lindner and the recovering Clempson just in front of Phil Shepherd (EH).
The final saw former Club champ Cascone hurling the Corty at some amazing angles in his pursuit of Armstrong who eventually proved too strong.
Melick grabbed third after displacing Ford while Clempson held out Moran for fifth followed by Harrison and Ramadge. John Bendell (Lotus Cortina) had a strong run into ninth with Shepherd tenth.
The front row was left vacant in memory of Club stalwart and competitor Graham Slater, who lost his battle with cancer on the Thursday before the meeting.
At the front of the grid it was a Bargwanna lock out. On the front row sat V8 Supercar star Jason on pole in Graham Hill’s Mustang alongside father Harry in his own Pony car.
The Bathurst winner would not complete the warm up lap however after a rear axle sheared. Michael Miceli (Falcon) would also not start after a fuel pump problem.
Gary Edwards (Torana) made the best start to lead, before falling to the grunt of Tony Hubbard (Camaro) and then Harry Bargwanna, the two V8s finishing one–two with the incredible RX-2 of Ben Read third.
Edwards was fourth from Les Walmsley (Charger) who actually posted the fastest lap on the final tour, then Russell Pilven (Datsun 1600), Steve Coad (Torana), Leo Tobin (Mustang), Rod Hotchkin (Falcon) and Michael Hibbert (Charger).
Harry Bargwanna stepped aside for son Jason to take over his car in race two after a suitable axle could not be found for the Hill machine. Miceli again just missed the start after the XW had an electrical problem later traced to a bad earth.
Stuart Barnes stalled his stunning Boss Mustang on the grid and the race director brought out the red flag just as the Ford finally fired up, but with the leader entering the esses had little option.
The red flag came out again after one lap when Jason Bargwanna broke a stub axle and pitman arm at turn one. Read was waved off the restart with a split oil cooler attracting a marshall’s attention.
Edwards again nailed the start but eventually Hubbard proved too strong for the Torana and took a narrow win.
Walmsley was third from Coad then Hibbert who set fastest lap, Tobin, Pilven, David Noakes (ex Don Knight Escort), Hotchkin and John Burke (Charger). After the race Jason Bargwanna was asked by your race reporter if he intended driving the transporter home, to which he replied: “f@#k no, I`m walkin`!”
Hubbard smoked the rear tyres in spectacular fashion off the line in the final allowing Edwards to streak away. Noakes made a brilliant start to be up to fourth having started eighth until he fell off at the sweeper.
Hotchkin joined him in the boonies after the rear brakes locked up as he tried to avoid the errant Escort. Hibbert climbed to second and began pressuring Edwards in a fantastic display of hard but fair racing.
In a dramatic final lap Hubbard went off at the esses but scrambled back on just in front of Walmsley. With former Torana racer Slater no doubt cheering him on from above, Edwards took an exciting win by .17 of a second from Hibbert with Hubbard just beating Walmsley to the line for third. Tobin was fifth from Coad, Miceli, Pilven, Peter Burchell (Mustang) and John Burke (Charger).
A gracious Hibbert commented post race that it was fitting that a Torrie took the final win in Graham’s memory.