For the 2008 Historic Winton i chose to drive there in my 1967 MG BGT – the first time I have driven the car to Historic Winton since purchasing it in early 2005. Quick side story, however! The first race track the car visited under my ownership was in fact Winton, albeit on the back of my father’s trailer as we were driving back from buying the car south of Sydney.
Enough reminiscing about my beloved car!
Cold starts to both days (but not cold enough to be classed as freezing) were soon forgotten as the beautiful sunshine shone over the short circuit at Winton Motor Raceway for the 32nd Annual All Historic meeting.
Early highlight for the car enthusiast at Winton was in the first event of the weekend – the M & 0 Sports and Group Sc race. It was fought closely between Ian Ross and Max Brunninghausen. Max drove his heart out in the BMW powered Chevron B8, but could not manage to slip past the similarly light-weight Elfin 360 of Ross. The two saw little competition from their contemporise when Luke Doige stalled his Clubman on the front row of the grid. He almost had the entire grid pass him as Brian Sampson came storming through after starting from rear of grid in his Elva and had nowhere to go, slamming into the back of the Clubman. Fortunately both drivers came out fine, however, the Elva was shortened somewhat. The usually quicker group Sc cars like the De Tomaso Pantera of Perry Spiridis, struggled for cornering pace at the track more suited to light-weight and less engine capacity cars.
In the racing car era of M & O Groups the three weekend races were dominated by the Elfin 600 of Richard Carter, although it wasn’t without a fight from Laurie Bennett in a similar car. Star performer for the Formula Ford contingent was Nick McDonald, and his Birrana managed to keep Tim Kutchel’s Brabham BT18 at bay until the final race where he spun at Penrite allowing the Brabham to move up a place.
Rob Braune had it all his own way in the Group Nc races, but the Nb races were a different story. Three races and three different winners – all driving Mini’s. The usually dominant Henry Draper had a battle on his hands this year as Ian Pringle grabbed an early race lead in the first event to clinch his first win. Clerk of Course at events such as the Phillip Island Classic, Michael Holloway lead the field across the finish line to win Sunday mornings handicap race. Son James finished third in his Mini. But the final event for the weekend was on for the Group Nb cars and Colin Doolan cam to grips with the layout after a couple of years absence coming through the field to finish in 6th – first non Mini home. The battle was a colossal one fought at the front between a brace of Mini Coopers. The lead changed on numerous occasions, but at the conclusion of the eighth lap Anthony Ramage came home victor ahead of Draper and Pringle.
Guest appearance in the P, Q & R races was none other than John Bowe who pushed Roger Ealand aside for a drive in the Rondel Brabham BT36-1. Bowe took the early 1970’s Formula 3 car to 2nd place after qualifying and in doing so put himself amongst the more developed Ralt’s. He had a good dice with Sean Whelan in the first part of the first two races before the Ralt found its feet and drove away with the wins.
The organisers pulled off an excellent display of Bugatti cars. No less than 4 genuine Type 37’s and 2 Type 35’s and another 4 replica Type 35’s competed in Group J and regularity events. This was supported by a further contingent of Bug’s in the parade laps including 2 Brescia models and the first appearance of the freshly restored Type 57. The meticulous four-year restoration was carried out by Victorian specialist restorer Graeme Smith (who competed at the event in his ex. Stan Jones Allard J2) for Queensland collector (and occasional historic racer) Nick Daunt.
Another first appearance in the Bugatti camp at the 2008 event was the re-but of the Ballamy Bugatti – the only period competition history Bugatti in the world to have been fitted with independent front suspension. The car ran well throughout the two days (apart from minor gremlins) after its recent return from a restoration in New Zealand for current owner, Victorian historic racer Andrew Cannon. This car is likely to appear in an Aussie assault at the 2010 Grand Prix Historique de Monaco.
They say things come in three’s! The third is the latest “Aussie Special” built by New South Welshman Frank Cuttell. This comes after the sale to the UK of his Cirrus aero-engined special recently. The Gipsy Fiat special has been on the ‘production line’ for a few years and features a Gipsy Moth aero plane engine housed on a Fiat 501 chassis. The car has been designed to appear like a piece of art – as well as to go fast!
Report by: Charles Rogers / Historic Racing Australia