2022Competition ReportsNews

The most classic Classic ever?

11-13 March 2022

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

The end of lockdowns and State border closures saw JUST CARS Historic Tourer entrants from around Australia leap at the chance to race at the 33rd Phillip Island Classic, a meeting now recognised as one of the world’s great Historic meetings. Seventy-five entrants ensured there would be two grids with a different split this year – Under 2 litres and Over 2 litres, with the flying rotary powered Mazda RX-2s set to run with the big boys. With races from Friday through to Sunday, it was a big test of man and machine…

Under Two Litres and Invited Cars

David Brown (Datsun 1600) had grabbed pole at a 1.54.4, just over half a second clear of Group S Alfa racer Adriano Dimauro, who was enjoying a guest steer behind the wheel of Rob Burns’ Alfa, and New South Welsh BDA Escort punters David Noakes and Mark Lenstra, with Rob van Stokrom in the BMW 2002 in fifth ahead of Peter van Summeren’s Lotus Cortina.

Race 1, Friday afternoon

Dimauro showed immediate speed to head the field in the early going. Brown had a great battle with of Rob van Stokrom until he fell off at the tight MG corner before re- joining behind the Escort of David Noakes.
Peter van Summeren (Lotus Cortina) slid up into the top five as Richard Hill (Mini), Queenslander Jim Schilling (Volvo), while Great Grandfather Ted Brewster (about to turn 87) in his Mini and NSW’s David Roberts (Mini) had a real ding dong struggle not far behind. Former Charger man Les Walmsley retired with ignition woes as his team worked through various issues with his recently acquired but still largely unsorted Cortina. Dimauro took the win from van Stokrom and Brown.

Race 2, Saturday morning

Brown lost a couple of spots with wheel spin off the line at the start but was soon back up at the pointy end and all over the tail of van Stokrom. It all came a cropper though, diving into Honda hairpin on the inside when a touch to the BMW’s rear wheel saw it pointing the wrong way and losing many places as Rob waited for a gap in the traffic to re-join.

After head gasket problems earlier in the meeting Spencer Rice (Alfa) was hurtling through the field and up into sixth having started from the back. Van Summeren and Hill were locked together while Roberts (Mini) and Andy White (Volvo) ran in close company with Helen Lindner (Mini) showing all her old pace, knocking on the door of the top ten having done very little racing in the last few seasons.

Rice posted fastest lap on the final tour as he caught Dimauro entering the straight, the two Alfas hitting the line side by side in a dramatic finish that saw Dimauro take the win by .03 of second.

Race 3, Saturday afternoon

The two Alfas scooted off into the distance during race three with the Minis of Brewster, Hill and Roberts three wide for a brief moment while White suffered a major mishap with the Volvo holing its block and dropping oil everywhere at the hairpin. The Lotus Cortina of Peter George spun and was collected by the hapless Lindner who had nowhere to go. Dimauro had his own moment, running off between turns 11 and 12 but re-joining without losing his second place as a now untroubled Rice took the win with van Stokrom third from van Summeren and Hill.

Race 4, early Sunday morning

Brewster posted a rare DNS for the next race with a gearbox issue as the Alfas once again ran in close company at the front. The real highlight was a monumental scrap between the Cortinas of Peter George, Paul Atkins, Walmsley, Mike George and Don Knight. The small Fords absolutely climbed all over each other, harking back to the mid 90s when grids featuring upwards of a dozen examples were a common sight. Phil Barrow was right on their heels after earlier maladies had struck down the fastest FJ Holden in the land. At the flag Rice just held off Dimauro in another great finish with van Stokrom again on the podium.

Race 5, late Sunday afternoon

With tanks topped up for the 8-lap final the 19 remaining contestants lined up for the 61st and last event of a fantastic three-day weekend of racing for more than 400 individual competitors. Don Knight’s Cortina bogged down badly off the line with a dislodged float in one of the Weber carbs but Atkins was flying to lead the pack of nine Cortinas, as was Barrow who decided he had enough of looking at Cortina rear ends, the Humpy barrelling into the hairpin during his fight with Michael George’s Lotus but looping on the exit and facing the wrong way.
Rice saw off the challenge from Dimauro and collected another win, rounding out a top weekend for the Sydneysider, while Rob van Stokrom took third to wrap up his “best weekend of racing ever”, ahead of van Summeren’s Lotus, Schilling’s Volvo, Pringle’s Mini, five Cortinas and Helen Lindner’s Mini.

Over Two Litres

West Australian Aldo De Paoli (Camaro) was back after a two-year break from the Island and rewarded himself with a mighty 1.47.3 pole, a full second ahead of Queenslander Ian Mewett, Victorians Michael Miceli and Andrew Lane’s fastback Mustangs and Marc Tessari’s HQ Monaro. Daniel van Stokrom was top Torana ahead of Qld’s Craig Allan and then – Jason Humble’s Mazda, showing with a time of 1.50.0 that rotaries are right up there with the big iron.

Race 1, Friday afternoon

De Paoli was a little too eager at the start of race one, rolling before the lights went out and earning himself a ten second penalty. Marc Tessari (Monaro) and Michael Miceli (Mustang) had a great scrap before the Ford grabbed second place down the front straight. The Toranas of Daniel van Stokrom and Craig Allan engaged in a huge dice with Jason Humble’s Mazda as former GT and TCM racer Keith Kassulke dialled himself quickly up to speed inside the top ten in the ex-John Mann `69 Camaro.

Nathan Gordon was another driver acclimatising to a new mount with his HQ Monaro originally built by Paul Stubber’s crew in W.A., who also produced the Tessari HQ as well as the DePaoli Camaro – which greeted the chequer first but fell to third in the results once the time penalty was applied. Miceli was awarded the win after fighting off Tessari with Hogs Breath Traralgon proprietor Andrew Lane (Mustang) fourth, then van Stokrom who just held off Allan.

Race 2, Saturday morning

Tessari would not start this due to an oil leak nor would John Harrison, whose immaculate `64 Mustang shot a push rod clean through a rocker cover! Lane came in early with electrical gremlins as De Paoli built an unassailable lead, winning from Miceli and the ever impressive Humble. Allan just held off Peter McNiven (Mazda) for fourth and NSW’s Adam Walton and Vic’s Darren Hossack, making it four Mazdas in the top seven finishers. Nathan Gordon (Monaro), Keith Kassulke (Camaro) and Darryl Hansen (Fastback Mustang) rounded out the top ten.
Race 3, Saturday afternoon

Miceli made a great start shadowing De Paoli for the first half of the seven laps before grabbing the lead on the fourth. Was De Paoli just foolin’? No, they’d tried something different on the car and it hadn’t worked and Aldo was throwing everything he had at Miceli. Meanwhile Ben Dahlstrom pitted his Charger with a severe flat spotted tyre as former Supercars steerer Darren Hossack (Mazda) and Qld Torana man Ashley Heffernan (son of former Supercars steerer Kevin) raced hard with Gordon’s big blue HQ.

Humble and Allan climbed all over each other in a fantastic scrap until the latter had a big “tank slapper” at Siberia, forcing Humble off who lost several places before re-joining. Darren Jones (Mustang) fell off at MG on the last lap after harassing reigning Victorian Club champ Peter Meuleman (Mustang) – the two had been glued together in all previous races, just as they had at Sandown a few weeks previously.

Miceli led within sight of the flag but DePaoli used all of his extra 48 cubic inches to finally grab the flag by just over a tenth of a second. Peter McNiven was third in front of Allan and Hossack.

The Peter Brock Trophy, Sunday midday

This stand-alone five lapper would celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Holden Dealer Teams XU-1s Bathurst victory with the Trophy awarded to the first Torana home, with Craig Allan’s quest made slightly easier after the demise of Daniel van Stokrom’s car with a cracked head. De Paoli built an early lead (Miceli and a couple of others had elected not to run with the main 12-lapper being run in just two hours’ time) as Humble shook off the attentions of Allan to consolidate second place.

Meuleman slid off entering the front straight in spectacular fashion and somehow kept his car from spearing back onto the race surface, the closely following James McNiven (Mazda) doing a superb job of slowing up in time and not pole-axing the Mustang. More drama followed on the last lap when Gordon lost the Monaro at Southern Loop whilst trying to hold on to third in front of a hard charging Kassulke, the Camaro cannoning into the HQ’s rear corner.

With a big lead and only a few corners to go in this demonstration race, De Paoli began to throw his Chev into some lurid, smoke-belching drifts to the delight of the big crowd. Humble chipped in with a couple of big slides of his own on his way to second from Allan who snatched Brock Trophy honours in third in front of the fastback Mustangs of Lane and Darcy Russell.

The Main Event, 12 laps Sunday afternoon

With the grid for the final reverting to the finishing order of Race 3 Miceli was back to challenge De Paoli – but before that he had to fight off Tessari who was again showing impressive pace in the Monaro as a relative newcomer to the JUST CARS Historic Tourer ranks. Marc and brother David had previously won just about everything in the tightly contested six-cylinder HQ Kingswood class.

Dahlstrom and Brett Ferris (Torana) had a close dice in the early stages as Adam Walton charged up from the rear of the grid and into the top ten in his 289 powered `64 Mustang. Russell drove around the outside of the battered HQ of Gordon which was clearly not handling 100% with Heffernan also getting through shortly after.

Allan and Tessari had a huge battle with two laps to go until the Torana had a half lose at the hairpin, Tessari and Humble sweeping past the rapid Queenslander. DePaoli eventually built a winning lead and took the final win followed by Miceli and Tessari, with Humble, Allan, Peter McNiven, Andrew Lane, Darcy Russell, Heffernan and Walton completing the top ten.

What a fantastic weekend of motor racing was enjoyed by the JUST CARS racers. The big fields, the number of races, from short sprints to what almost amounted to enduros for these (minimum) 50+ year old cars, the great weather and celebrations made it one to remember. And 170 people celebrating the 2021 HTCAV Championship Awards Night in the hospitality rooms above the pit garages on Saturday just topped it off.

Next JUST CARS adventure is the elective support round for the Bathurst 12-hour at Easter, before the big field at the iconic Historic Winton meeting at the end of May. That’s a meeting for every old car enthusiast!