26-27 November 2022
Report by Darren Knight. Pics by Phil Wisewould
What’s in a name? There’s always something magic about the last meeting of the year and a huge field of over 40 JUST CARS Historic Tourers made this season’s edition of PIARC’s Island Magic, their 32nd, something special. From every state in Australia they came, creating fierce battles right through the order. Six Camaros, six Mustangs, three Falcons and a lone Monaro bellowed a V8 tune, with roaring sixes, howling rotaries and screaming fours making the action as good to listen to as it was to watch.
Qualifying – a non-record record
The two West Australian `69 Chev Camaros of Paul Stubber and Aldo De Paoli locked out the front row. Stubber recorded the fastest Group N time ever of 1.45.17 – but qualy times don’t count for the record book. Trevor Talbot (`68 Camaro), the incredibly quick Mazda of Darren Hossack, Darcy Russell’s Fastback Mustang, Nathan Gordon’s Monaro, Chris Stern’s ’68 Trans Am Mustang, Tasmanian Mick Cross’s Torana and Andrew Beard’s Camaro rounded out the ten.
Race One – big drama, little result.
Out went the lights. Up went De Paoli’s arm out of the window as he stalled on the line. There were some close calls but everyone avoided the stationary Chev as it finally fired up and joined the race right at the back. The recent acquisition by the HTCAV of one-way race radios to enable race control to warn of such incidents certainly paid off in no uncertain terms.
Fellow Sandgroper Cono Onofaro found himself the subject of the next radio transmission after his Mini exited the final corner onto the main straight slightly wide, spinning rapidly and spearing into the inside concrete barrier before bouncing back into the middle of the track. Cars went everywhere in avoidance with Michael George (Lotus Cortina) slewing sideways and just being clipped by the unsighted Jerry Lenstra (Cortina).
The red flags came out shortly after with earlier delays preventing a restart. With just two laps completed of the nine scheduled the race was declared a non-event. A frustrating Saturday for all.
Race Two – back in business big time
The second outing on Sunday morning would now determine the winner of the Alan McKelvie Trophy, instigated for Island Magic last year in honour of the former Torana and Mustang racer.
No problems this time – De Paoli blasted away in secure fashion as Stubber grabbed an early lead whilst newcomer Adrian Moyle’s meeting came to an end with a blown clutch in his Best Presented winning `68 Camaro. The stunning black and silver Chev was previously campaigned in W.A. by Greg Freeman.
More drama for the Bow Tie Brigade came in the form of Stubber retiring with smoke trailing thanks to a blown rear brake cylinder. Tassie Torana tyro Mick Cross became immersed in a huge battle with Chris Stern (Mustang) and Glenn Miles (Charger) while reigning local Club champ Pete Meuleman (Mustang) battled South Australian Justin Elvin (Mini) in a resumption of their spirited contest at this year’s Supercar round at The Bend.
The Mini men had been in cahoots to make this a sort of unofficial champs for the little bricks. Elvin and Jason Armstrong represented SA, Onofaro and Dan Forster WA and Adam Bressington NSW, while Vic’s Graeme Hill had a drive in brother Richard’s car. Finishing ninth outright with a 1.55 lap time settled the argument in Elvin’s favour.
Slight drizzle began to dampen some parts of the circuit, which combined with concerted pressure from Hossack, saw Nathan Gordon (Monaro) slide off into the Southern Loop gravel trap, bringing out the Safety Car. At the resumption De Paoli scooted away to again lead from Talbot as Hossack finally rounded up the ever-improving Boss Mustang of Darcy Russell, the purple Mazda hiking front wheels in spectacular fashion.
Miles’ impressive run came to naught when he looped the Charger at Miller Corner (the old Honda hairpin) on the final lap, De Paoli taking the win and McKelvie Trophy on a now thoroughly greasy track followed by Talbot, Hossack, Russell, Stern and another newcomer Andrew Beard in the ex-Graham Jarrett `69 Camaro.
Race Three – the Victorian Historic Touring Car Trophy
A much drier track greeted competitors for the finale with De Paoli wasting little time in building a lead with rear-of-grid starter Stubber having plenty of time within the scheduled 13 laps to mow down the 37 cars in front of him and challenge for the win towards the end. By the end of lap two he was already into fifth place, running three wide (and sometimes sideways) on numerous occasions as other drivers were engrossed in hard fought battles of their own.
Further back the Cortinas of Les Walmsley and a battle scarred Lenstra fought tooth and nail as did the two South Aussies Elvin and Kirk Davis (Mazda). Geoff Munday (Camaro) was on the move and getting into a big fight with Miles and Meuleman inside the top ten but had a ten second penalty for a starting infringement hanging over his head.
The last lap board appeared one lap early with Stubber now all over the rear of De Paoli and looking for a way through. With the chequer at the ready and only a couple of corners to go the bellowing number 31 nipped inside to snatch the lead and just held on to win in an excitingly close finish.
Talbot was third in front of Hossack, then Russell. Munday slipped from 8th to 13th with the penalty applied while Meuleman was awarded that 8th place and emerged Group Nb (pre `65) winner. Justin Elvin claimed the trophy for Best Performed Mini. The Makulu Vehicle Storage Driver of the Meeting accolade was awarded to Darren Hossack.
As ever, Island Magic had lived up to its name, rounding out a full year of competition in grand style. The JUST CARS Historic Touring Cars return to the fray in February at Sandown before they’re back at the Island Classic in March with two huge grids of old-time racing.