5-6 November 2022
Report by Darren Knight. Pics by Phil Wisewould
Historic Sandown 2022 came roaring back to its competitive best for the first time since 2019, blessed with sunshine, big crowds and great displays. Two big fields faced the starter and the racing was tight and torrid in each. Darren Knight called the races from the Tower and wrote this report.
Group One – Under 2 Litres NC and Under 4.5 Litres NB
The Safety Car made a very early appearance after the Cortina of NSW’s Jerry Lenstra suffered a fuel leak and subsequent under bonnet fire on the warm up lap. The flare-up was quickly doused as the field circulated under yellow flags for two more laps. At the first opportunity pole sitter David Brown (Datsun) bolted when the greens came out.
Behind Brown the rapid EH Holdens of Phil Shepherd and Claude Ciccotelli were both caught and passed by Rob van Stokrom (BMW) as the Mini of Magical 87-yrs old Ted Brewster kept the close-following Cortinas of Don Knight, Simon Browning and Stuart Bailey at bay.
Rod Evans parked his Cortina with a piston issue as Phil Barrow flung his incredible FJ Holden ‘Supercar’ into a big battle with the pushrod Cortina of Les Walmsley, the Lotus Cortina of Peter George and the Mini of Ian Pringle, who in turn pressured the similar machine of Paul Battersby in a great battle for sixth. In the end Brown took a comfortable win from van Stokrom, Ciccotelli, Shepherd and Peter van Summeren (Lotus Cortina).
Shepherd would not grid up for the Sunday morning race after discovering a valve train issue that would end his meeting. The well- deserved Best Presented winner in the pre`65 (Group Nb) class David Forbes also met an early end with the XM Hardtop suffering a gearbox failure in the opening race.
Brown didn’t make the best of starts but was quickly into stride and led the big field into turn one. Richard Hill (Mini) had qualified second, had to start from rear of grid in R1 and finished 12th. But he was soon mixing it up inside the lead pack with fellow Cooper S speedsters Paul Battersby (NSW) and Ian Pringle (SA).
The ex-Graeme Blanchard FE Holden of Eddie Dobbs was looking a lot stronger second time out, plunging up the inside of Barrow as Hill over-cooked it exiting T3 in his pursuit of third-placed Ciccotelli, running across the grass before rejoining.
The frantic closing stages saw Barrow retire with an internal engine issue and Queenslander Stephen Jeffs looping his EH at T1 before rejoining. Brown grabbed another win from van Stokrom, Ciccotelli and Hill while Justin Brown (BMW) finally found a way past Mike George (Lotus Cortina) on the last lap after an epic battle. Bill Trengrove coasted to an 8th place finish but with oil and smoke pouring out from under his EH thanks to a holed block.
The delay caused by the R2 oil clean up resulted in the final race being truncated to four laps. Ted Brewster was a little too keen to get underway and was immediately slapped with a (post-race) time penalty but David Brown got away well as did Ciccotelli who absolutely stormed away off the line and made a big lunge under van Stokrom entering turn one.
Alas it was tad hot for the drum braked Holden! The burgundy machine spun in front of the BMW which almost came to a complete stop to avoid T-boning the Queenslander, who had to wait for the entire field to pass before re-joining.
Hill grabbed the opportunity to nip up into second place with Battersby following him through. Van Summeren sliced through the field after a Race 2 DNF caused by a miss of some sort as Walmsley again showed a well-driven push rod Cortina was still capable of mixing it with its Lotus twin cam powered brethren.
Brown was again never headed but van Stokrom closed in slightly near the end having regained track position lost in the first turn incident. Hill snagged third.
Group Two: Over 2-Litres Nc and Over 4.5 Litres Nb
Guest steerer John Bowe (Joe Calleja `69 Mustang) blasted away from pole as fellow front rower Qld’s Ian Mewett (Mustang) lost traction off the line, letting the similar machine of Andrew Lane nip into second place. The five-strong Charger contingent was initially headed by Michael Hibbert and Ben Dahlstrom who swapped places constantly but Rob Burns soon made his presence felt in his familiar number 70 Mopar.
Sandown first-timer Jason Humble had his Mazda firing big time, rounding up Qld’s Graeme Wakefield (Mustang) and Nathan Gordon (Monaro) who had plenty of TV air time recently during the Bathurst 1000 support races where he put in a sterling drive in greasy conditions.
Tony Hubbard (Camaro) made steady progress after starting from pit lane while Dahlstrom’s race ended on the back straight in smokey fashion after an oil fitting let go and sprayed the black stuff everywhere under the bonnet, a small fire (and a big mess) the end result.
John Alessi (Monaro) skated through the Dandenong Road sand trap as Bowe took the win from Lane and Mewett with NSW’s Ben Wilkinson (’68 Mustang) next in front of the extremely impressive Falcon Sprint of Qld’s Marty White with Humble sixth. Post-race, Mewett would take ill and be forced to fly home to Queensland with the whole category wishing him a recovery just as rapid as his fastback `Stang.
The second encounter saw Bowe again lead into T1 with White getting a blinder and grabbing third early on before Wilkinson, er, put him to the sword. Meanwhile a humungous all Aussie six-cylinder battle erupted between the Chargers of Hibbert and Burns and the XU-1 of Tasmanian Mick Cross. The trio left absolutely nothing on the table in a hugely entertaining scrap which came to a head entering T1 for the final time.
Cross found himself up high on the inside ripple strip and traded paint with Burns, the Torrie spinning while Burns continued. There was more drama as Humble retired with distributor issues, the resultant yellow flag at the scene seeing several cars “check up” with the Mustang of Darren Jones tripping over the similar Ford of Pete Meuleman and cannoning into the Armco.
Thankfully Jones was fine but his pony did suffer fairly hefty damage all down one side. Jervis Ward also had a frantic moment right at the end after his Falcon Sprint decided it didn’t need front brakes. Bowe, Lane and Wilkinson filled the podium.
Incredible work (and a late night) by Liam Reed and his team saw Dahlstrom grid up at the back for the final as did Hibbert who had retired late in R2 with the same oil fitting failure that had originally struck down Dahlstrom! Who knew it was contagious? Luckily the volume of oil sprayed about was not as severe.
Bowe hooked up well to grab the early lead as Wilkinson showed Lane he wasn’t going to settle for another third place and slotted his 302 powered Ford into second. Chris Stern (Mustang) had a wild ride in his pursuit of Gordon, the ex- Whiteside machine spearing off at T1 before car (and driver) regained some composure and rejoined.
Fellow Mazda racer Darren Hossack lent Humble some dizzy bits to join the final race but it all came to naught as the RX-2 began emitting a slight puff of smoke before eventually calling it quits within sight of the flag.
Race leader Bowe slowed and began dropping places thanks to an intermittent fuel pump. Ward snuck Burns but then found the stationary Camaro of Hubbard (who had lost gears) facing the wrong way entering the front straight. A couple of cars including Gordon somehow missed the Chev but Ward just kissed the side as he straightened the Falcon out to avoid T-boning Hubbard.
After overhauling Wilkinson Lane found himself in the lead and duly greeted the chequer with White again strong in third. It had been a strong finale for the JUST CARS racers right through the field – down the back John Clarke (Nb Mustang) pipped NSW’s Fred Brain (Monaro) by just .3 sec after a race-long battle.
Island Magic next
At end November more than 30 cars will contest the fabulous Phillip Island closer for the racing year. Once again, some of Australia’s best exponents with ensure fantastic battles – from WA Paul Stubber and Aldo de Paoli will headline the five-strong Camaro entry while from SA fierce antagonists Jason Armstrong and Justin Elvin top the six-car Mini entry.
And of course, out of this meeting will come the HTCAV outright champion for 2022… Read all about it in the next issue of JUST CARS!