2024Competition ReportsNews

Hooray for Historic Winton

25-26 May 2024

Report by Darren Knight. Pics by Colin Rosewarne, Peter Knights, Throttle Jam Photography, Ian Smith & Grant Bressington

Brilliant sunshine and brilliant racing all weekend – well worth the trip to the Northern Victorian circuit for the 47th edition of one of the world’s oldest historic race meetings. A special one-off Cortina-only race celebrating 60 years of Australian race wins would be held for the first time, attracting a very healthy 15 entries of the ever-popular small Ford.

The Cortina Challenge, mid-afternoon Saturday

After three years in the shed Nick Cascone’s rapid yellow Mk.1 GT demonstrated all its old pace by jumping into the lead in front of the hard-charging Lotus of Peter Van Summeren. An almighty battle erupted between the GTs of Stuart Barnes, Don Knight and NSW’s trio of John Harrison, former Jaguar racer John Shuttle and Jerry Lenstra, with the proverbial blanket covering the quintet. Lotus-mounted Chris Dubois (NSW) fell from third place after slipping on oil exiting the esses and re-joined well down the order. After a frantic five laps Cascone took out the special trophy with Van Summeren second and 2023 HTCAV Club Champ Les Walmsley third in his GT.

This extra race was a great success and a testament to the vision and hard work of long-time stalwart of the HTCAV, Jim Collins.

Race 1, late Saturday

NSW’s Adam Bressington (Mini) had lost a wheel after setting pole in qualifying, but he shrugged that off to grab the early lead over Vic’s Richard Hill (Mini). But all hell broke loose behind him after Van Summeren had a big tank slapper exiting Turn 1. The following cars went in all directions to avoid the Cortina slewing back across the track, but in a cloud of dust there was inevitably some panel crunching in the melee. Barnes and Lenstra were out on the spot while Vics Kim Shearn (Lotus Cortina) and Phil Barrow (FJ Holden) continued but with hefty damage. Hill, back after copping a big hit at Phillip Island in March kept maximum pressure on Bressington but could not quite catch the Sydneysider at the finish as a huge dice for third raged between Tony Hubbard (Camaro), Cascone and the Minis of NSW’s Tom Tweedie and Linda Devlin with the quartet finishing in that order after ten laps of great racing.

Race 2, mid Sunday

Hill got the drop on Bressington this time to grab the lead with the two Minis haring off into the distance, virtually locked together at the head of the field. Hubbard made an eye-catching lunge at the end of back straight to snatch third from Cascone who soon had Devlin all over his back bumper. Barrow was in his element hunting Cortinas in an amazing 11th outright, closely followed by Dean McLaughlan (Datsun) and Harrison. Shuttle pressured veteran South Aussie Ian Pringle who was posting his fastest ever laps at Winton as fellow Mini man David Cheney dropped a wheel into the dirt but stayed ahead of Walmsley just inside the top ten. At the end of six exciting laps Hill just edged out Bressington for the win with Hubbard similarly just besting Tweedie for third in front of the waring duo of Cascone and Devlin.

Race 3, late Sunday

With the late afternoon sun right in drivers’ eyes the final ten-lapper saw a slightly messy start with a few jumping the start and a few missing it! Bressington was not hanging around to find out and bolted to build a handy lead with Hubbard slotting into second in front of Devlin. In contrast, Hill dropped spots but was soon back on pace and picking off cars at will. Cascone and Van Summeren ran side-by-side for a fair part of a lap as Hill fell off while hounding Tweedie for third but re-joined. Worse was to come for Hill though as he was tapped into a spin by Hubbard during a three-way Mini attack. Cascone’s skilful avoidance on the grass just brushed the stranded brick as Tweedie nipped under Hubbard whose tyres were now well past their best.

Start line infringement penalties lopped five seconds from ex TCM racer Bressington and Sports Sedan legend Hubbard’s times but such was the former’s margin it was still a ‘Bresso’ win ahead of Tweedie, with Devlin elevated to third. Adding Hubbard’s further 15 sec penalty for the Hill tap, Seymour’s fastest Camaro punter was relegated to eighth in the closely packed top ten.

One can only hope the racing (and incredible weather) will again feature at Winton for the VHRR’s Festival of Speed on the full circuit layout on the first weekend in August.

You’d be crazy to miss it!