2021Competition ReportsNews

Magic Finish

November 27-28 2021

Report by Darren Knight. Pics by Phil Wisewould www.philwisewould.zenfolio.com

The popular Island Magic meeting capped off a strange year of two halves. Warm weather, an opportunity for longer races on one of the world’s truly great race tracks and a potential chance for someone to clinch the Club Championship and slap the number one on their door for next season usually encourages a big grid – this year was no exception, with 35 starters.

Michael Miceli (’69 Mustang) was always expected to be on the pace having won this meeting five times previously and he didn’t disappoint. A pole time of 1.50.6 was two seconds clear of Peter McNiven’s Mazda and the Camaros of Trevor Talbot, Brent Trengrove and Tony Hubbard. NSW’s John Harrison was next in the yellow ’65 289 Mustang, ahead of Darren Hossack (Mazda), Glenn Miles (Charger, David Brown (Datsun 1600) and with Mark Brewster (Torana) rounding out the top ten.

Race One – Saturday afternoon

The warm up lap was different. The HTCAV paying tribute to recently passed club member Alan McKelvie sent out his two former race cars (Torana and Mustang) to lead the field around to the grid. Members of Al’s family and the crew from his car preparer Mark Johnson Racing were rapt to see the two number 17s out front.

When the red lights went out Miceli sprinted away to lead as former Torana super star Trevor Talbot lost several spots off the line with massive wheel spin. Quentin Bland momentarily stalled his Capri with Rob Van Stokrom (BMW) taking to the grass to avoid the pommy Ford. Brent Trengrove slipped into second place as Talbot retired with an annoying miss in his 350 Chev-powered machine.

Former Supercar pilot and multiple Sports Sedan race winner Darren Hossack (Mazda) was showing impressive speed in his category debut by moving ahead of Harrison’s Mustang to grab third place. Fellow Group N newbie Brett Ferris hurled his stunning Torana into a great battle with the all-black Mustang of Pete Meuleman who was in with a great shot at the Club Championship. His only realistic rival, Simon Browning (Cortina) looked to have his chances dashed with his Mark I sadly overheating.

Trengrove retired after the centre ripped out of a front disc and Mark Brewster joined him with a blown head gasket in the Torana, having at one stage challenged the impressive Charger of Glenn Miles for fifth. The Mazda of Peter McNiven was right in contention for a podium until he became caught up behind a dicing pack of back markers on the final tour and fell off before re-joining.

Miceli was untroubled at the front and took out the inaugural Alan McKelvie Trophy – an impressive laser cut metal piece of the PI track layout fittingly with a number 17 at the top. Harrison was second then Glenn Miles, Hossack and Peter McNiven who recovered to be fifth. Bill Trengrove (Falcon Rallye Sprint) was sixth and first home in Nb for pre `65 cars.

Race Two – Sunday morning

Tony Hubbard (Camaro) would start from the back after missing race one due to a blown gearbox in qualifying, having been fifth fastest. Hossack also had work to do in electing wisely to start from pit lane with the Mazda sometimes sticking in gear. Harrison pressured Miceli in the early going while Craig Miles (debuting a flash new Chrysler Limelight Green paint job on his Charger) was out early after a holed sump dumped a heap of oil at the hairpin.

The very rapid David Brown spun his Datsun on said oil and fell from an impressive fifth place before re-joining. Second generation racer Stephen Pillekers (Torana) had a ding-dong dice with Bill Trengrove while Hubbard went out with an electrical gremlin as did the Torana of Nathan Gordon. Again, there was nothing between the Cortinas of Don Knight (GT) and Michael George (Lotus) with the pushrod coming out on top after some great racing.
Miceli took another victory from Harrison then Peter McNiven who bested Miles for third. Talbot sliced his way up from the back and posted second fasted lap on his way to fifth. James (father of Peter) McNiven punted his own Mazda into eighth in front of Bland and Ferris.

Race Three – the PIARC Victorian Historic Touring Car Trophy

This was the big one – the 10-lap final for the traditional Cup. Harrison made a great start to lead into Doohan Corner before Miceli roared up alongside and quickly switched back up the inside into the Honda hairpin to take the lead. Peter McNiven fell off at turn two and plummeted down the order as Darren Jones (Mustang) was heading in the other direction after starting from the back thanks to a fuel pick up problem in Race Two.

Glenn Miles came under sustained attack from first Talbot then Hossack as the luckless Hubbard again retired. “It needs a birthday!” the rapid veteran would later ruefully quip. Ben Dahlstrom (ex Les Walmsley Charger) continued dialling himself into his new steed as he battled Meuleman, Jones, James McNiven (Mazda) and the ex-Lawrie Nelson Capri of Historic open wheeler whiz David Crabtree.

Peter van Summeren (Lotus Cortina) was hassled by the Mini of Richard Hill as Talbot climbed into second and set off in pursuit of Miceli. Two wily panel beaters hard at it – but Miceli kept his head down and did not let the Camaro get any closer, as he cruised to his sixth 50km Island Magic Trophy.

Talbot was second, then Harrison third followed by Hossack, Miles and Peter McNiven who had been 24th at one stage after his opening lap excursion. NSW’s Quentin Bland lobbed into seventh ahead of Nathan Gordon’s XU-1, Ben Dahlstrom finishing his first meeting in the ex-Walmsley Charger and Mr Consistent, ex-Champ Stephen Pillekers in his Torana completing the top ten.

A mighty race weekend and a great finish to a year best forgotten. But the race to be the 2021 Club Champion was down to the wire – and you can read all about that in the next issue of JUST CARS…