2021Competition ReportsNews

Historic Sandown welcomes back motor racing

November 6-7 2021

Report by Darren Knight. Pics by Phil Wisewould & Ian Smith

The JUST CARS Historic Tourers were finally back on track for the first time since Historic Winton in late May. This edition of Historic Sandown was the first since 2019 thanks to the pandemic and the longest city-wide lockdown in the world. To say competitors were looking forward to it would be a champion understatement, despite the stringent control on numbers that saw the paddock seem almost deserted.

New unofficial lap record

Touring car legend John Bowe would line up at the wheel of Joe Calleja’s stunning Fastback Mustang to headline a strong near 30-car entry. His pole time of 1.19.118 was 0.1111 faster than Paul Stubber’s track record in the Camaro, set at the same meeting in 2014. But track records can only be set during a race, so the old mark still stands. Andy “Hollywood” Clempson and Michael Miceli’s Fastback Mustangs were next ahead of Brent Trengrove and Tony Hubbard’s Camaro with Bill Trengrove’s Falcon Rallye Sprint rounding out the top six.

Race One – Saturday afternoon

Bowe blasted away from pole to quickly build a fair-sized margin to his pursuers as Pete Meuleman (Mustang) pit lane start was hampered further by the appearance of safety vehicles in front of him as he approached turn one! The Boss powered Mustang of Michael Miceli was retiring in a cloud of smoke immediately after the start with a split sump.

Tony Hubbard (Camaro) was also out early with the Chev stuck in gear as Brent Trengrove (Camaro) and Andy Clempson (Mustang) ran in close company as did Michael George (Lotus Cortina) with Ben Dahlstrom (Valiant) and Don Knight (Cortina) further back in the field. The similar Ford of Simon Browning had snuck ahead of that trio after a rocket start. Making a welcome return was the FJ of Phil Barrow after a substantial repair job following a T-boning at Mallala some months ago – it looked so good he won Best Presented Car. But alas, a broken fuel line ended the comeback temporarily.

Brent Trengrove slowed momentarily with clutch issues (later traced to a slave cylinder problem) but continued and had enough time in hand to stay in a podium position. Bowe took an easy win from Clempson and Trengrove followed by Dom (son of Tino) Leo in the ex-Chris Stern ’68 Mustang and 2019 Club Champ Harry Draper (Datsun 1600).

Race Two – Sunday morning

Heavy rain late on Saturday afternoon and evening had thankfully cleared to a grey overcast Sunday morning. Bowe again galloped away as Nathan Gordon (Torana) made a blinder to be briefly in fourth until the big bad V8s got into their stride and shuffled the Aussie Six back a few spots. Brent Trengrove held third until again slowing and eventually retiring while father Bill Trengrove (Falcon Sprint) was showing encouraging pace having not started Race 1 – the Sprint has misbehaved almost as soon as it appeared in the Trengrove stable, after been campaigned at the pointy end for many seasons by W.A.’s Bill Meeke.

Hubbard meanwhile was powering up through the order as the Cortina punch-on went up a notch with Knight diving down the inside of Browning at turn one before George bested them both near the end. Meanwhile two absolute Club stalwarts in Eddie Dobbs (FE Holden) and the amazing 86-year-old Ted Brewster (Mini) ran in tandem during the early going until Dobbs eventually shook Teddy off.

Meanwhile Clempson retired in a massive plume of smoke after the oil filter broke a seal and pushed out nearly seven litres of oil. A quick-smart reaction from “Hollywood” saved the 351 Windsor from any damage.

Richard Hill (Mini), Andy White (Volvo) and Rob van Stokrom (BMW) all mixed it up with John Clarke (Mustang) at various times as Bowe took another untroubled victory with Hubbard and Leo next followed by Meuleman, Gordon and Bill Trengrove.

Race Three – Sunday afternoon

Bowe hooked up nicely again and soon had the customary buffer out in front as Clempson and Brent Trengrove wasted little time slicing through the field from the back. Bill Trengrove was also quick away as the naughty Falcon looked finally able to put two solid races together. Further back the three Cortinas climbed over each other with Barrow joining the party in the Humpy.

But Clempson was going like a train. At the end of the first lap he was in 7th, then 4th by the second lap and having passed Dom Leo he was 3rd on the third lap with Brent Trengrove in his wake. He then set about the second-placed Hubbard, closing on him impressively.

Then, disaster…

On lap five of eight the `Stang rounded up the Camaro rapidly around the outside across the highest part of the circuit at the end of the back straight, but then plunged down into Dandenong Road corner at unabated pace. Clempson speared off the racing line, skipping across the gravel trap made firmer by massive rains and cannoned into the tyre barrier, the car bucking up into the air and landing rear end first on top of the tyres.

Red flags came out to end the race as medical and safety cars appeared instantly. Andy was despatched to hospital where five broken ribs and a punctured lung were diagnosed. Later forensic car examination found a fatigue crack in the brake balance bar, which failed leaving no connection between brake pedal and master cylinder.

His pace down the hill suggests this occurred at the very fastest part of the circuit, it must have been an horrific ride indeed. The pits were hushed until word came back that he was conscious and talking. The whole category wishes Andy a speedy recovery with the paddock set to be slightly less raucous with his temporary absence. Mr A. Clempson did not receive the sobriquet “Hollywood” for no reason!

And on a cheerier note

No doubt Andy will be pleased to hear he was still awarded third behind John Bowe and Tony Hubbard as the results were reset to the previous lap. Next followed Brent Trengrove, Dominic Leo (winner of the Makulu Vehicle Storage Driver of the Meeting Award) and Pete Meuleman in the Nb Mustang who is getting faster every meeting.

Nonetheless, there was no mood for prize giving after the event, which will now take place at Island Magic at Phillip Island on the last weekend, where another strong field will greet the starter. And you can read all about that adventure in the next issue of JUST CARS!