Report by Darren Knight. Pics by Phil Wisewould
Race days were clear for the 45th Historic Winton as drivers from WA, SA, NSW and Tas joined Vic JUST CARS racers for a mighty weekend. The immaculate rapid Holden Torana of Andrew Girvan, the sole Group Nc entrant, blitzed everything while behind him small car battles raged with nine Minis and seven Cortinas predominating.
Mini on pole
Quaintly still called ‘Practice’ – a hangover from the meeting’s earlier days – qualy saw the ex-Armstrong SA Mini of Jonathan French take pole with a 1.09.02 ahead of Girvan’s Torana, the only other car in the “nines” with a 1.09.3.
French’s pole first time out at Winton and his three-race domination of Group Nb earned him the coveted Makulu Vehicle Storage Driver of The Meeting award. Third, fourth and fifth on the grid would be the Minis of Richard Hill and the ex-Nick Stillwell car of former NSW TCM racer Adam Bressington, and Historic Touring Cars’ fastest lady, Linda Devlin.
Race 1 – late Saturday, 10 laps
From P2 Andrew Girvan leapt into the lead in front of a spirited four-way Mini battle for third: French, Bressington, Hill and Devlin. Linda Devlin of course had an unbelievable weekend-long stoush at this meeting last year with the Cortina of Nick Cascone, R1 this year saw a short fist fight with Peter van Summeren’s ill-handing Lotus Cortina (with a longer and closer dice on Sunday with Les Walmsley’s Cortina GT). Cortinas are the bane of her life!
A similarly high powered and entertaining dice erupted between the Cortinas of Peter George, Don Knight and Les Walmsley and W.A. based Mini racer Syd Jenkins. Walmsley threw everything at Knight but could not find a way past as the one and only Tino Leo (Cortina) found himself in a similar position right behind the stunning Mark II Jag of John Shuttle.
Jerry Lenstra was having a much better run after his recently acquired Cortina gave him plenty of grief at Phillip Island earlier this year. Ben Dahlstrom (S Series Valiant) slid off at turn one before re-joining but then retired near the end after veteran Scotty Taylor (Mini) tagged the Val`s front corner at the esses.
Girvan was never headed and in the blinding setting sun won from French, Bressington, Hill, Devlin and Peter Van Summeren (Lotus Cortina) rounding out the top five.
Race 2 – midday Sunday, 6 laps
Girvan again scooted away to lead early as Leo took to the grass off the line to get around a slow-starting Stu Bailey in the ex-Fast Johnny Luxmoore Cortina. Having bested Walmsley in R2 Knight ran wide at turn one allowing Walmsley through, who then gapped his pursuers with a change to a shorter diff ratio making the little Ford quicker out of Winton`s slow corners.
After decades based in W.A. the ex-Rob Semple XM Falcon Hardtop was out circulating in the hands of XK Falcon racer David Forbes and looking an absolute picture. A spring change after race one improved the 200 c.i. powered Ford somewhat but Early Bird nut Forbes has plenty more in store to get his new mount to his liking.
Phil Barrow (FJ) blew a gearbox after finding himself in his usual massive battle with several cars (people seem to gravitate to the old Holden both on track and off) while Girvan took another win under sunny skies with the top five the same as Race1, but with Walmsley up into sixth in front of William Walker (Mini) who had charged up from the rear after a DNF in the opener.
Race 3 – late Sunday, 10 laps
Barrow was back with a replacement `box in the final, as second generation Torana racer Girvan again made his getaway from the front while Bressington this time got the jump on French when the flag dropped and slottedinto second place.
French hounded Bresso until he finally squeezed past, while further back Barrow was having an almighty scrap with Jenkins, who eventually crossed the line only .5 secs ahead of the ‘FJ Supercar’. Both Lotus Cortinas of Peter George and then Van Summeren retired, as did Dahlstrom who had endured a frustrating weekend.
The black 3.8 litre Jag of NSW’s John Shuttle and the yellow example of Vic’s Greg Menzies held up the Union Jack with ‘Grace, Pace and Space’ (old Jag slogan), with the rapid Shuttle holding off Bailey and Lenstra in Cortinas and Scotty Taylor in the Mini over the line.
Girvan was flying high though, and made it a clean sweep with Winton newbie French claiming second, followed by Bressington, Hill, Walker and Devlin who had emerged victorious over the hard-pedalling Walmsley.
Beat the rain home!
There was little time for post-race niceties as black clouds threatened the scramble to pack and load the hot race cars and head on to the Hume. But all had agreed that it was one of the classic ‘good time’ Historic Wintons, up there with the best in long memories and setting a standard for the younger crop of racers, making them determined to repeat the exercise next year.
Next up for the JUST CARS racers – a support event for the Supercars at Tailem Bend in late July – then back at Winton on the long track for the Winton Festival of Speed. If you’d like to come but need to keep warm, the HTCAV has booked a room with a great view of the action… come along!