Three days of sunny winter conditions hosted the 31st Annual Historic Winton on the traditional last weekend in May date, although the bright sun also appeared numerous times with the amount of red flag incidences – particularly on Sunday.
The old track (as usual) was used for the weekend, which allowed for better spectator vantage points and closer racing by pegging back the bigger capacity cars, which tend to perform well at circuits like Eastern Creek and Sandown with their long straights. Competitors made their annual pilgrimage to Winton to continue battles started one, two or ten years ago. The battle continued in the early Group Lb races.
The battle royale was between the Coopers of Dick Willis (Mildren Cooper) and Fred Greeneklee (Cooper JAP) who fought in close battles in the weekends two scratch races, whilst back in third place most of the weekend was “the mighty roar” of Bill Morris’ Keift Grand Prix car, which was driven by Greg Snape.
Some of the most exciting battles of the weekend took place in the Group O, Q, & R racing car events. The young guns in their less developed cars swapped positions all race, every race well ahead of the more advanced RALT’s. Jamie Larner in his Chevron B42 and Andrew Makin in his March 73B both tussling for the lead in all races. Best performing RALT went to Geoff Calvert, although Andrew McCarthy is quickly coming to terms with the nature of his RT4, which he acquired recently. Laurie Bennett was in a class of his own all weekend in Group O in his Elfin 600 well ahead of the other O cars and battling with some of the RALT’s.
Production Sports car races became a Porsche benefit after a knock to Peter Hall’s Datsun 240Z sent him to the rear of the field, a position he continued to make up across the remaining part of the weekends two scratch races, notwithstanding the handicap event on Sunday morning. The handicap event was won by Barry Finlay (Lotus Super Seven S4) from Don Bartley and Hamish McLennan in Austin Healey Sprite and MGB respectively. The final event was won again by Verwoert in the RS Carrera followed by Terry Lawler and Michael Byrne snuck the Louts Super 7 S4 in for a hard fought third. The horsepower duo fought hard throughout the race with Ross Jackson (De Tomaso Pantera) not being able to get by George Nittis (Shelby American GT350).
Without doubt the best racing of the weekend came from the Formula Ford field. One could not be a betting man as the lead and places changed constantly. Eventually, though Jonathon Miles won the feature in his Reynard R Type from. Nick McDonald came back to finish third after a spin, narrowly beaten by Keith Simpson in the Penrite Oil Van Dieman.
Peter Brock was remembered across the weekend with the first appearance in over 40 years of his first car – an Austin 7 (see the event photo gallery), which has been renamed BROCK 01. The Peter Brock Foundation has aquired the car, which forms a significant part of showcasing the history of the early days of Brock. This was followed up with a Ford vs Holden battle on Sunday, as well as the increasing numbers in the tribute to Great Aussie Specials parade. 7 Delage’s took part in the parade lap too, celebrating the 1927 World Championship win.
Report by: Charles Rogers / Historic Racing Australia