Historic Winton

29-31 May 2009, Winton Motor Raceway

The 2009 Historic Winton, the 33rd running of this event was staged to honour the memory of the Late Lou Molina. One of my fond childhood memories of Lou in competition was seeing him with his Bugatti Brescia.

So to honour Lou’s memory I joined a group of Bugatti owners on the Friday of the event for a leisurely drive from central Melbourne to the event in regional Victoria. Team Bugatti comprised of Neil Murdoch, Adam Berryman and Andrew Cannon, and me in my equally priceless! MGB GT. Each of the cars in our group has a significant history.

The Murdoch Brescia is a one owner car – been in the Murdoch family since new, and could possibly be the only one owner Bug in the world. This car has recently been restored to a sympathetic condition under Neil’s guidance. Although I mentioned earlier that I had joined a Bugatti drive, Adam Berryman did not bring his 37A as it is currently undergoing an engine freshen up, so Adam chose to bring his MG K3 from 1933.

The K2’s significance lies in its chassis number 002, which took part in that year’s Mille Miglia. Andrew Cannon chose to bring his Bugatti 37A, which has a unique history on both sides of the world. This car won the Duke and Duchess of York Trophy at Brooklands, was driven by one of the famous lady Bugatti drivers in the late 20’s, and also Dick Seaman. The car was later fitted with a Ballamy independent front suspension, and remains the only Bugatti in the world to have such a component.

The day started for Andrew and I at his Melbourne laneway office for a cup of tea. We met up with Neil and Adam at Whittelsea where from here we drove in convoy to the Flowerdale Hotel. This section of the drive was simply awe-inspiring as we were driving through many devastated areas of the February bushfires. It was interesting to see re-growth already well advanced.

The four of us parked along the front of the hotel and went in for a typical pub lunch. The cars attracted some interest from patrons, who fortunately were given a couple of spare weekend passes by Cannon.

We hit the road again, this time with a driver swap as Berryman and Cannon swapped cars – unfortunately for me (probably fortunate for Neil) was that we did not swap cars. Maybe next time. On our journey towards our destinations we stopped at the iconic Tatong Pub. After consuming an ale or two here we made our departure as the sun began to set.

A fabulous day to commence what was to be undoubtedly the best Historic Winton yet.

Berryman and Cannon were both competing in the J & K races – for pre-war racing cars. Both were further back and not in contention, however, some spectators commented on how Cannon managed to stay in the car as he enthusiastically egged the Bugatti on around the corners by leaning out the car. The action up the front was quite fearsome between Graeme Raper (Ford Monoskate) and Jim “Stumpy” Russell (Ford V8 Special), although Stumpy didn’t quite have the power to hold on to the Raper car. John Payne (MG J2), Rod McMullin (Ford V8 Indy Special) and Mark Woodberry (Dodge Special) all tussled for the last podium place.

Group S races for the weekend were an eye opener with the emergence of the Tony Karanfilovski and his Alfetta GTV on the front row alongside the Porsche 911 of Terry Lawler. The corner layout of the Winton track definitely attracts cars like the Alfetta to the pointy end of the field. Lawler and Karanfilovski had a race long battle in all scratch races, while Brian Weston (MG Midget) held on to third with little competition. Peter Jackson (Austin Healey 3000) held off constant battle from the Porsche 911 of John Asbhy.

Jervis Ward made an awful start to the first Group Nb race from the front row, falling back to about 10th place by the first corner, hence leaving Henry Draper(Mini Cooper S) all on his lonesome. The hard charging Ward soon made up for his poor start and was battling with Draper for the lead by the final lap, but was piped by Draper at the post.

It was good to see the 1934 MG L-Type of Warwick Anderson completing it’s first full weekend of racing without too many dramas. This is thanks mainly to changing compression ratios and pistons in the Offenhauser engine to allow for normal petrol as opposed to alcohol. The car completed approx. 45 laps over the three days with Warwick in regularity on Sunday only and Greg Smith racing in the J & K class for the three days.

The weekend was topped off by glorious weather with record crowds – which in fact eclipsed the V8 Supercar crowds two weeks beforehand. This further strengthens the interest in the historic racing movement in recent times.

Report by: Charles Rogers / HRA

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