2009 Nationllube Historic Sandown
The 18th version of the Historic Sandown meeting was held on 6-8 November. About three years ago the meeting was struggling to attract 300 entries – this was the number for Friday practise this year!
For the weekend it was record entry levels for a car race meeting at Sandown – 425. Of that special dispensation was given to the Formula Ford category to end of their 40th anniversary celebrations with a grid density field of 46 cars, with a couple of reserves (biggest FF field ever assembled in Australia).
Regularity cars attributed a combined 100 odd entrants across two fields. Group S (1960’s-70’s production sports cars also had, for the second year in a row a reserve list of 3 cars.
With such a big entry field there were so many highlights. It was an absolute honour to see three generations of the Brabham family at the track, with Sir Jack well enough to attend to watch son David and grandson Matthew compete against John Bowe in the speed comparisons.
The meeting also showcased the final round of the Biante Touring Car Masters series. Some of the closest and hard fought racing was had in the three races for the Biante cars across the weekend. The Biante cars are essentially Group Nc cars, but are allowed various freedoms like disc brakes all round. Their lap times, however, fell only 1 ½ seconds per lap below the current Nc record.
A few weeks before the meeting I personally felt Melbourne was going to miss Spring and Summer this year as Winter went for a few more weeks. But Sandown was different – 30 + temperatures across the weekend. I have recently been told that the 200 officials consumed 2,600 bottles of still water and 1,000 cans of soft drink over the three days – not to mention a few ales after the action each day in Garage 34!
There were so many great battles and scary moments at the 2009 event. For me, I ran my 1967 MG BGT in the regularity division 1 event. Although I didn’t finish at the top (best result being 11th on Saturday afternoon) I did manage to knock 5 seconds off my previous best lap in this car at Sandown! Like some others I had a scary moment. After passing two beautiful pre-war cars (the Little Alfa and a Singer Le Mans) under brakes into turn 1 I came through the corner to the sight of a Triumph spinning on the exit – drivers right. The Morgan of Tom ffrench had already darted to the left, and as I wanted to re-gain my lost position on him I was going to try to go behind the Triumph on the black stuff and the exit curb, but the better got of me (actually, there was no room on this part of the track) so I had a forced excursion across the dirt, re-entered and continued on.
But if I thought that was scary how about the two fires – yes, two. On both Saturday and Sunday different cars dropped their guts coming over the top of the back straight (the old Rothmans Rise) and left a trail of oil straight through the esses and into Dandenong Road corner. Sunday’s one happened during the Group C & A race and Bill Cutler was first to be effected in his stunning BMW M3, but fortunately managed to only het bogged in the kitty-litter. But it was not so lucky for the Roadways Torana APX, which hit the oil patch more severely and slammed into the wall so harshly that the impact split the fuel tank and the rear of the car burst into a huge, bon-fire type blaze. Full credit to the fire marshals who arrived on scene 20 seconds after the impact and had the fire out in a matter of seconds.The second accident involving fire was at turn two in the Formula Ford race where one car erupted in to flames. Fortunately, both drivers walked away from the incidents.
The weekend has finished off a year where Historic Motor Sport has prevailed in Australia as the biggest expanding area of our sport. The fields at the major events have not fallen to the Global Economic Crisis, but have only flourished.
Report by: Charles Rogers