Big grid, maximum entertainment at Historic Winton

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

The JUST CARS Historic Tourers converged on a chilly Winton Raceway near Benalla in North East Victoria for their second all-Historic meeting of the year. Run by the Austin Seven Car Club on the original short circuit, Historic Winton is one of the oldest Historic meetings in the world with this year’s edition being the 41st. Uniquely, the cars share the programme with some magnificent vintage racing bikes across several eras, allowing plenty of two-wheeled perving time in between the car action.

A full field comprising three Group Na (pre-58) cars, 22 Nb (pre-65) and 12 (pre-73) historic tourers took to the track in qualifying on the Saturday morning. Former local, now Queenslander, Gary Edwards won pole in his Torana and in Race 1 led into the first turn as former Sports Sedan legend Tony Hubbard (Camaro) squeezed inside Les Walmsley (Charger) and both latched on to the red Torrie’s tail.

Half a lap later Hubbard had the lead with Walmsley following him through in the same move. Andrew Girvan (Torana) harried Edwards for third with the Winton-loving Minis of Richard Hill and Robert Ford all over each other in a huge battle for fifth. The similar machines of Lindsay Siebler and Ian Pringle also put on a great dice as did fellow Mini veterans Len Read, the evergreen (and still ultra-competitive!) Ted Brewster and the rapid Twin Cam Escort of Jerry Lenstra. Adrian Read parked his Mini with a stripped third gear having already swapped the head after qualifying while the proverbial blanket covered the first four cars in a fantastic display of close but fair racing.

Hubbard used all his vast experience to hold out Walmsley and take the win with Edwards edging out fastest-lapper Girvan for third and Hill, the first Mini home in fifth. Wayne Walters rotated his rare Studebaker Cruiser literally within sight of the flag as he exited the esses while a stunning drive from Nick Cascone (Mark I Cortina GT) saw him finish 10th off the back of the grid.

In Race 2, a multi-car incident at the first corner saw the red flag out with the Walters Studey damaged and the pristine EH of Tony Pejkovic sadly copping a hit as well. The delay worked out well for Edwards though, who gridded up in third for the restart after ignition issues saw him take the initial start right at the back. Hubbard hooked up nicely to lead early as Edwards went under Girvan who had made a great start, but then retired shortly after with engine issues.

Gordon Cox from Coxys Motor Sport Spares was having fun debuting his Austin A90 Westminster as he chased the Volvo 122S of Mick Stupka, having earlier seen off the rare Simca Vedette V8 of Vince Parisi to take a trio of wins in Group Na. Cascone and Nathan Gordon (Torana) had a ding dong struggle as Walmsley climbed all over the rear of the Camaro but could not find a way past. Hubbard took another narrow victory (.15 of a second in fact!) with Edwards third, after posting the fastest lap and Ford this time getting the better of Hill in fifth.

Showers after Race 2 and ever-darkening clouds prompted some runners to wait until the very last moment to choose which tyres to run, with a number bolting on wets for the final stoush. Hubbard and Walmsley again fought tooth and nail at the front until Edwards clouted the old pit wall on the inside of the main straight, having survived a similar “tank slapper” on the previous lap. The tension at the front continued after the restart until Walmsley pulled an unbelievable outside move to grab the lead just before the hairpin onto the back straight.

The Minis meanwhile were revelling in the slippery conditions with young Tasmanian driver Jeremy Bennett and second generation racer Linda Devlin surging into the top ten, as did the always-fast EH of Tasmanian Phil Shepherd with the big XY Falcon of Colin Larsen not far behind. Walmsley cribbed a few car lengths’ lead and took the win from Hubbard with the hardy crowd giving both drivers deserved applause after some incredibly close racing devoid of any panel bashing at the front. Hill was third from Cascone who took home the coveted Makulu Vehicle Services Driver of the Meeting Trophy.