Club President takes gold after a massive competition year. Here’s the story of the Top Ten.
Report by Chris Ralph. Pics by Phil Wisewould
The HTCAV Championship is not an easy thing to win. Based on class results, it offers equal opportunity for all cars great and small to take the prized John Mann Cup at years end. More points are won with more cars in the class, and the best five-of-seven rounds are counted.
So its every bit as serious for those Cortinas locked in battle as it is for the Mustangs thundering past them…
But this year’s Champ, Les Walmsley, didn’t just accrue points. He and his amazing Valiant Charger E49 R/T (motor untouched for 17 race meetings) won outright on at least six occasions.
With a combination of good handling and brakes, reliable power and silky driving skills, man and machine hunted down monster V8 Mustangs, Monaros and Camaros, to the glorious soundtrack of a bellowing straight six.
Underscoring the level playing field of the competition, second and third places were taken by Minis – Richard Hill and Adrian Read – seldom more than a second apart all year, swapping finishing orders and fastest laps. Adrian, second in the 2016 championships, scored the most points ever recorded in a year to win the President’s Cup. But it’s the five best results that actually counts…
They say racing is a young man’s game. But in fourth place and winning his class, just four points off the podium came the man who keeps scoring points: 77-year old ‘Fast Johnny’ Luxmoore in the Cortina GT. ‘Fast’ is fast becoming a legend in historic touring car racing for his enduring performances and dry wit (“I’m not here to be fitted for a suit!”).
Fifth was another character, Darren ‘Spud’ Smith, who claims his big white Falcon XY GT is “just a road car with a roll cage”. Winning the Over 5000cc class with a string of top performances against more fancied opposition means he’ll never say that again with a straight face…
2015 Club Champ Stephen Pillekers was fast Mr Consistency again to take sixth and top honours in the 3000-3300cc (the ‘Holden Torana class’), while Chris Ralph in the BMW 2002 took seventh and the Under 2-litre class win in his last year of racing, after 35 years in the category.
Early points leader, Nathan Gordon in his Holden Torana, suffered a big blow up at Phillip Island in October but still had enough points in hand to grab 8th, while young rising BMW star Gabriel Digenis put in stellar drives late in the year to jump into 9th.
Tenth was the man who loves building race cars and actually had four in the top 10, the two BMWs and two he used in the year, his Volvo 122S (now sold to rally hot-shoe Andrew White) and his Citroen 11D (hint: still for sale at a most reasonable price).
Behind every class winner were torrid battles and the accompanying highs and lows. Historic touring car racing has its fair share of those – but great mateship and instant willingness to help each other in the pits evens the score.
Interest has grown since JUST CARS became the category naming rights sponsor; more co-sponsors are now on board so more money is rebated to competitors, helping off-set the costs of racing old cars never built for racing in the first place!
On behalf of all the historic touring car competitors who raced in Victoria the HTCAV thanks its sponsors warmly for 2017, wishing them and all JUST CARS readers (the ‘old car tribe’) a happy and safe holiday season.
Don’t just come and see the show at the Phillip Island Classic, March 9-11 next year, come and say hello!