November 4-6 2016
Report by Darren Knight. Pics by Phil Wisewould www.philwisewould.zenfolio.com
The JUST CARS Historic Touring Cars demonstrated the huge nation-wide popularity of the category with a bumper 70-car entry for the VHRR’s 25th Edition of Historic Sandown – a remarkable turnout considering nearly 80 cars had competed just the weekend before at Sydney’s annual Muscle Car Masters.
Smaller cars: Group Nb Under 4.5L/Group Nc Under 2L
Race 1 turned into a non-event after the red flags came out early with an unfortunate engine fire for Peter Owen in his re-liveried Escort. The blaze was extinguished but not before some heavy damage resulted to the immaculate little Ford.
Race 2: The two quickest men in qualifying Rob Burns (Alfa) and David Brown (Datsun) were chomping at the bit and leapt out of the blocks to make an early break. Jerry Lenstra (Escort) copped a black flag for a jumped start after mixing it with the top five while Gabriel Digenis (BMW) came in with an alternator issue after holding down a strong third. Fellow 2002 exponent (or Panzer Division comrade?) Chris Ralph also retired when the diff cried enough, as a huge dice between the Minis of Danny Berry and Adrian Read raged on, in the spirit of the nutso Mini battles of Bathurst 50 years ago. Queenslander Ian Mewett had his MkII Jag purring inside the top ten while Eric Spokes rotated and stalled his FJ coming onto the front straight with a lap to go. Burns was too quick for Brown with Peter Van Summeren (Escort) third.
Burns got the jump again in Race 3 while Ted Perkins (Lotus Cortina) made a great start mid-field to snaffle a few places off the line. Len Read (Mini) slowed and then retired with clutch issues as Eddie Dobbs (carrying the number 60 to celebrate 60 years of the FE Holden instead of his familiar 27) chased the Cortinas of Fast Johnny Luxmoore and David Schofield. The incredibly quick EH of Tasmanian Phil Shepherd battled the Escort of Peter Van Summeren for third as Ralph and Digenis clawed their way up from the back. Another rear-of-grid starter Lenstra was also on the charge and setting very fast lap times until retiring on the last lap. Brown chased hard but could not catch Burns at the front with Van Summeren third in front of Shepherd and Berry.
Larger cars: Group Nb Over 4.5L/Group Nc Nc Over 2L
Tino Leo had made a welcome return with his original, recently re-acquired Kent Youlden-built HQ Monaro, the big Holden back in its original orange splendour after several years in Sydney wearing dark blue war paint. Sadly the reunion wasn’t to last more than six laps in qualifying with an engine problem putting the former Sports Sedan legend out for the weekend.
Race 1 and Kevin Stoopman (Monaro) grabbed an early lead from pole sitter and Carrera Cup racer Fraser Ross (Mustang) who soon found himself in a big battle with Ben Wilkinson, the former EH fast man showing big speed in his new `68 Mustang. Bill Trengrove (Mustang) was working hard from the rear of the grid having qualified seventh but copping a penalty for a yellow flag infringement in qualifying. Stoopman took the win from Ross with Angelo Taranto third, his Camaro tuned up nicely having run with the Queensland-based Australian Trans Am Series at Muscle Car Masters the previous weekend.
Race 2 saw Ross grab an early lead as some incredible battles developed inside the top ten, featuring Garry Treloar in his big block Camaro, Rod Hotchkin (Falcon) and Les Walmsley (Charger). The ’68 Mustangs of Darryl Hansen (who had gearbox dramas in race one) and Andrew Whiteside were also at it hammer and tong until the red flags came out – the stunning Boss Mustang of Stuart Barnes had spun on oil at the end of the high speed back straight and clouted the armco, thankfully with no harm to the South Australian. Ross claimed the win from Stoopman and Taranto.
Race 3. Stoopman’s HQ had begun making some nasty noises from the rear end so he made a rather gentler launch away in the final allowing Ross and Hansen to streak away at the front. Hotchkin’s race came to an early end after a spin on the back straight amidst some frantic dicing while Craig Allan was finally having a trouble-free run in his ultra-rapid Torana as he battled with Andrew Cannon (Mustang) and gun engine builder and former HQ champion Keith Davidson (Kingswood SS) who in turn was all over the Falcon of Darren Smith. Darrin Davies (Mustang) pressured Walmsley as Ross built a race-winning lead in front of Hansen to make it a Mustang one-two at the flag. Stoopman collected third (and Driver of the Meeting) as Treloar just edged out Wilkinson for fourth in an exciting finish.
Capacity JUST CARS historic touring car fields are now expected for the biggest historic meeting of 2017, the Phillip Island Classic on the 17-19th March. Put that date in your diary!