Bathurst 6 hour
7-9 April March 2022
A dozen Victorian JUST CARS Historic Tourers journeyed up to Mount Panorama as part of the support card for the ARG-run Hi Tech Oils Bathurst Six Hour production enduro. Despite red flags and thick fog all reported a fantastic experience.
Mountain virgins, men and cars
Ben Dahlstrom (Charger), Club Champ Pete Meuleman and fellow Mustang man Andrew Lane were among a handful of Mountain virgins and all got through Practice and Qualifying unscathed by treating the place with the respect it demands.
Underlining the resurgence of Cortinas, no fewer than six Quick Vics were in the Dagenham Dashers. Great mates Rod Evans and Les Walmsley battled niggles in their recently acquired Fords while Don Knight (making his first Bathurst start in nearly 18 years) sheared an alternator pulley in his GT.
Coxy’s Motorsport Spares had a replacement (Gordon himself back in the hot seat debuting his very neat Mk. II Cortina GT) and NSW Lotus Cortina ace Chris Dubois re-wired it suit. Trouble-free Simon Browning (Pushrod) and Mike George (Lotus) made the cuppas.
The Tilley family locked out the front row with Brad on pole alongside Jamie with the two Camaros of Aldo DePaoli and Darren Collins filling the second row behind the Tilley Mustangs.
Race One went full term
Brad Tilley jumped out to an early lead after the rolling start as long time Falcon fast man Peter O`Brien punted his big XY past Jamie and into second before the Mustang snuck back past.
De Paoli and Collins both rounded up the Falcon which then came under attack from Michael Miceli (Mustang) and Keith Kassulke (Camaro) in an entertaining battle.
Wayne Seabrook (Porsche) led the invited Group S sports car contingent followed by Group N Mustang racer John Harrison, this time in his genuine Shelby GT350H – the H standing for Hertz, who commissioned Carrol Shelby to supply a batch for their rental fleet in the early sixties.
Jamie Tilley retired with gear linkage issues while Miceli looked set to challenge for the podium until a drop in oil pressure ended his charge and his weekend.
At one stage Brad Tilley led by six seconds but it all came to naught when he caught a gaggle of slower cars across the top and was left with nowhere to go.
Standing on the brakes hard with the ‘Stang writhing in protest, somehow Tilley managed to avoid contact and eventually get past.
De Paoli was now well within striking distance and with the flag in sight pounced at Murrays Corner to clinch the race-winning pass. Brad was second but suffering brake issues that would scupper his chances in the next race.
Collins took third in front of O`Brien, Kassulke and Seabrook. Steve Shepard brought the sole Mazda home in 20th while Dubois in 26th led home fellow Lotus Cortina campaigner Mike George and first pushrod Cortina home, Don Knight.
Race Two – racing ’til the red
De Paoli led O`Brien in the early stages with Brad Tilley having retired on the out lap with the aforementioned brake issues. Jamie Tilley was charging through from the rear with Luke Harrison in the stunning ex-Brian Potts HT Monaro trying to hang on for the ride after his own race one DNF.
Collins moved up to second as Adam Walton (Mustang) and Seabrook became involved in a massive scrap, as did Shepard and Bryan Taylor (Porsche) which unfortunately ended with both cars in the turn one sand trap after contact at Hell Corner.
At the same time Queenslander Stephen Scales bent the nose of his Camaro exiting the Dipper and with zero run off at that part of the track, the Chev had to be parked next to the fence.
With the car obviously in harm’s way (and with two cars already in the sand trap at Hell) Race Control had little option but to unfurl the red flag and declare the race a non-event with only three of the scheduled five laps completed.
Race Three – hello yellow
Sunday morning dawned with a real “pea souper” enveloping Mount Panorama. The organisers moved the scheduled 7:30am start to 8:30 in hope the fog might lift and while the top of the mountain was bathed in sunshine the lower reaches actually became frustratingly foggier!
The race started under yellow flags behind the Safety Car and would remain that way for the entire five laps, bringing a rather anti-climatic end to the weekend.
Special guest star Driver Observer for the meeting Andy Clempson had an eye-opening experience in Race Control and Category organisers Nic van den Berg and David Noakes put in a sterling effort at the track and in preceding months to get the whole thing off the ground.
Despite the race hiccups every driver to a man relished every single minute of track time on the hallowed Mount. Who knows when they will get the chance to do so again.
And from the majesty of the Mount to the wiggles of Winton – next outing for the JUST CARS tourers would be the 45th Historic Winton run on the original short track circuit.
You’ll read all about those adventures in the next issue!