Renovation and Races

Baskerville Historics

1-2 October, 2016

Report by Peter Miles. Pics by Peter Miles and Phil Wisewould www.philwisewould.zenfolio.com

Tasmania here we come! We had been looking forward to seeing this racetrack renovation for months. (Probably more so me – Andrea’s heart was more for wilderness time and seafood chowder…) yet my mind raced back to the days of John McCormack’s Charger and the relative benefits and drawbacks of various cylinder heads for the mighty Holden 6 motor. Clearly a simple three days at the track will be just what Andrea needs.

The good folk at The Baskerville Foundation (led by Peter Killick) have been working hard fundraising, aimed at bringing Baskerville back to top condition, and the Baskerville Historic meeting plays a big part in the renovation plan. Entrance fees, raffle tickets, etc. all into the kitty. I think what they have achieved so far is remarkable; getting the old track in use is really something. I think before this meeting they were three and a bit years into a five year plan.

Friday – The Flood

It’s a rainy day as we fly in, pick up the campervan and head to the track. It’s a shock when we get there. The place is flooded! The Historic meeting lies underwater and right now Baskerville itself is being washed away before our eyes!

What we had expected to be a happy sunny renovation has quickly turned into racetrack rescue. Crisis. Thankfully there are willing helpers and equipment put to work. The Tasmanians are a determined lot, and there’s an easing of weather in the afternoon. No on track action obviously, but a spontaneous working bee breaks out.  Drainers and plumbers to the fore, with some excavator equipment to relieve the pits of some water.

Saturday – The Mud

Woke to the sound of rain. It looked to us like the meeting was a bust, as rain continued to fall. Baskerville doesn’t have much in the way of hard floor – some sealed surface in the pits, but most other places are/were grass. Now there’s quite a bit of mud (understatement). The working bee continues with big Mack truck deliveries of pinebark spread underfoot. The spectator hill is in a class of it’s own. Anyway, much to our surprise, the racing was a goer! Just, whatever you do, keep your car on the track.

At this point it wasn’t really about strict racing; the main feeling just that it was great to give the cars a run, all things considered.  And the cars weren’t all strictly historic, more a run-what-ya-brung feel. Regularities were full. And two lots of bikes (including a chook chaser dirt bike embarrassing plenty of grand-prix bikes).

There were some fantastic cars in action including the Garry Rogers Bathurst 2000-winning Commodore (Tander/Bargwanna) and the Gowans Celica Sports sedan from the 70s. The Commodore has been kept exactly as it finished the big race. The Celica has just been rebuilt, with its original 5 litre Repco engine; a real beautiful beast. One of the classes was “Muscle Car Cup” – perhaps something like Improved Production rules?  And of course plenty of six cylinder Holdens, I reckon they’ve been a mainstay of Tassie racing forever.

Group N was high in popularity. Henry Draper, James and Michael Holloway in minis and David Forbes in the Falcon represented Victoria with style and speed. Lachlan Thomas scored pole and John Talbot’s Mustang did most of the winning.

And Phil Wisewould, HTCAV’s documenter of daring and capturer of chaos, did maybe more than his usual superb job. Check out his gallery, superb pictorial storytelling! You may even feel led to purchase a pic or two.

Sunday – Thud

A big crowd of over 3000 turned out to witness some great sights and sounds. Sure there were some difficult conditions underfoot, and tractors were well used towing vehicles out of a bog, but a bit of sunshine was a great tonic.

The on-track action was mostly pleasing, but unfortunately there was also some damage inflicted. The biggest incident occurred just after the start line in the Muscle Car Cup. Ask Phil about it.

It was great to wander the pits and check out some superb machinery amongst friendly people. There was a grid walk which was very enjoyable, and if you fancied, a mini-mountain climb up the spectator bank to take in the panorama (I made it about half way). It’s a great little circuit, sort of Winton-sized but with elevation changes.

The 2016 Baskerville Historic was memorable indeed. The effort put in at short notice to rescue, and then push on with the meeting was remarkable. Sunday night meant victory night.

Monday –The Wash up

Front page on the Hobart Mercury!  The Baskerville Foundation fundraising story was given good coverage. There is still a shortfall to the target, but it action is underway in this regard. The really good news is the track surface is scheduled for a complete resurface in December-January. Looking to 2017 Baskerville Historics, I can recommend making the trip. As for Andrea, she loves a good resurrection story…