2023Competition ReportsNews

The Last Hurrah

Island Magic 25 & 26 November 2023

Report by Chris Ralph with Chris Ralph. Pics by Ron Hossack, Daysy Motorpix, Brett Butler & Phil Wisewould  

Apart from major historic events, November’s Island Magic meeting has established itself as the most popular meeting of the year. Aside from three Cortinas and a Mini, muscle dominated the 33-car entry – twenty V8s, two Chargers, two Toranas and three Mazda RX2s, with six from interstate.

Championship Showdown

As with all exciting championships, the HTCAV Historic Touring Car Championship came down to the wire for the JUST CARS racers.
Would current and two-time champ ‘Black Pete’ Meuleman in his black pre-65 Mustang score more points in his class than former Club Champ and ex-President Les Walmsley would score in the Cortina class?

Separated on-track, they were neck-and-neck on the score card…

Qualifying – Saturday morning sort out

Qld’s Craig Allan looked to continue his all-conquering Historic Sandown form, placing his newly rebuilt Mustang Fastback on pole ahead of the two WA Camaro heroes, Paul Stubber and Aldo de Paoli.

Darren Collins whacked the Warhorse Mustang into fourth ahead of Michael Miceli’s and Qld’s Ian Mewett’s Fastbacks – but that was his highpoint, with a fire from a split fuel line burning under bonnet for several minutes in R1, ruining more than his weekend.

Brent Trengrove’s Camaro was next ahead of Andy William’s Torana, Adrian Moyle’s Camaro and Peter McNiven’s Mazda to round out the top ten, with Darren Hossack’s purple RX2 stuck to his bumper.

Race 1 – Saturday afternoon shake down

Such was the determination of WA’s Paul Stubber to re-assert his dominance over the Qld pole-stealing upstart he rocketed away from the start and immediately sliced .2 sec off his own outright Historic Touring Cars lap record, to set it at 1.45.3. Take that! He then lounged around in the 1.48s for the win (and the Alan McKelvie Memorial Trophy) while the battles raged behind him.

And rage they did. Craig Allan’s Mustang and Aldo De Paoli’s Camaro nipped and tucked with Aldo finally getting past on lap 6/8 before a final lap T1 lockup saw him take the wild ride across the run-off and gravel to rejoin at T2 behind Brent Trengrove’s Camaro. He threw everything at Trengrove to the flag, to fall short by .006 second!

It was just as torrid behind. The evenly matched blue Fastback Mustangs of Miceli and Mewett and Andy Williams’ giant slaying Torana made a flying wedge while attacked by the two Mazdas of Hossack and McNiven.

Miceli won out, while after being briefly usurped by Williams, Mewett regained the upper hand. Adrian Moyle’s ever-quicker Camaro had picked up three places to head McNiven, while Hossack was stuck in third gear and winding it to astronomical revs.

Further back, Stephen Pillekers took a T12 swoop to best Ben Dahlstrom’s Charger at the line while Jervis Ward’s Falcon Rallye Sprint had the pesky Mini of Richard Hill stuck to his back end like a blowfly.

Race 2 – Sunday morning slides

It was a slippery track but Stubber’s wildly optimistic guess at when the red lights would go out saw him bolt and be slipped a 15 second time penalty, knocking him back to third after leading the field to the flag.
Once again De Paoli and Allan were at each other, the former holding the Queenslander out for the first six laps before the tables were turned and Allan grabbed what would become the race win by .5 of a second, after withstanding an all-in De Paoli onslaught.

Behind them the nimble XU-1 of Andy Williams had scooted away from Miceli and Mewett, but Adrian Moyle had inserted his Camaro into the fray. Driving one-handed to hold third gear in, Darren Hossack was all over them in the corners, lights ablaze and lifting inside front wheels.

But on the slightly drying track it was Moyle’s Camaro muscle that held sway over the five-car battle, ahead of Miceli, Williams, Hossack, Mewett and McNiven, who after a grid stall had scythed his way back up the order.

This time Richard Hill’s blowfly tactics almost got the better of Brett Hotchkin’s GT HO, drawing level with him between T11 and 12 before sheer grunt won the Ford a .9 sec gap at the flag.

Race 3 – The Victorian Historic Touring Car Trophy

The iffy weather had worsened and in the dim, dank late afternoon (one hour after the scheduled start), Gorillas in the Mist with headlights lined up on the grid. This time Stubber walked his car off the line from his unaccustomed lowly P3 grid slot and soon grabbed the lead.
Behind him, Aldo De Paoli and Craig Allan continued their entertaining punch up, ahead of the Moyle and Williams stoush. The Mazdas of McNiven and Hossack ganged up on Mewett’s Mustang, as Glenn Miles watched amused from the Charger.

As is traditional, the WA Camaros confidently started their lairy demo 1-2 victory slides halfway through the last race, aided by the greasy track.

But it wasn’t over yet. Colin Larsen and Brett Hotchkin’s GT HOs were chasing the fleet Falcon Sprint of Jervis Ward. Larsen made a big lunge into T4 under Ward, locked up, lifted, locked up again and spun the Sprint, which limped home with a rubbing tyre, as Larsen sat stranded, unable to proceed.

Out came the Safety Car, only minutes before the pin was to be pulled on racing – but yes, there would be one last desperate lap to round out the year.

As the Safety Car pulled off at T12 the two WA boys bolted way before time – and both copped a 15-second penalty. Second car on the track was John Harrison’s lapped Cortina, with the pack breathing down his neck. No overtaking is allowed before crossing the Start/Finish line…

Then it was on! Craig Allan stretched to a one second lead over Andrew Williams who’d managed to get the Torana ahead of Adrian Moyle’s Camaro to the podium. places. Then Miceli, Hossack, Mewett, Miles and Trengrove in the frantic dash to the line.

Naughty boys Stubber and De Paoli were listed in 8th and 10th places.

A Fab Finale

The Saturday afternoon opener came to a very early and messy end with the red flag unfurled after two laps when the HQ Monaro of former six-cylinder HQ front runner John Alessi suffered a major blow up and deposited virtually all its engine oil across the track.

The Makulu Vehicle Storage Driver of the Meeting award went to Andrew Williams in the giant-killing Torana, while the Spirit of the Meeting trophy went to Brent Trengrove, who’d suffered distributor module failure in R1, couldn’t make R2 but stormed through the field in R3 from the back of the field.

And that all important 2023 Historic Touring Car Association of Victoria Championship result?

You can read all about that in the next issue of JUST CARS when we’ll review winners in every class for you. (But sshhh – if you can’t wait ‘til January, the car in its 60th anniversary of winning races in Australia was triumphant – the Cortina by two points!