Winton Festival of Speed

Lon track 11-12 August 2012

The second weekend of August saw the VHRR’s third long-track meeting, the Winton Festival of Speed. About 270 cars; racing, sports racing, production sports car, touring car, and standard road cars took part in on track action.

After an accident prone race, take two for the combined Groups M, O, V & FF grid on Saturday, Tim Blanchard did grandpa proud by taking a clean-sweep of wins for the weekend in the family’s Van Dieman RF88. The battles were fought behind though, with a hard fought battle for third place between David Hardman (Elfin 600 FF) and Nick Bennett (who has switched to a sister-model vehicle of the Blanchard car), crossing the line 1 tenth apart. Foggy was in his element in commentary watching the next generation takeover.

Using my ‘road kill’ hat to warm the tyres of Peter Strauss’ Brabham BT11A seemed to help out for Sunday morning’s race where he was the first of the Groups M&O racing cars home, ahead of the concours-prepared Elfin Mono of Norm Falkner.

Group S production sports cars contributed to the event with some good numbers, allowing the grid to be split into two – with an Sa & Sb grid, and separating of the Sc grid.

This paved the way for some exciting racing in the earlier era race with dices between Sa and Sb cars all throughout the field. Laurie Burton (TVR Tuscan) stomped away with the win Sunday morning from Jackson (Austin-Healey 3000) & Bartley (Sprite), while outside the top-three, the battle was on with Brian Duffy doing the A/H 3000 camp happy outdoing the photo finish between Brian Weston (MG Midget) & Andrew Begg (Porsche 911).

In the Sc races, Michael Bryne had an uncharacteristic off-track excursion in the Super 7 S4 while battling the Porsche contingent, but in race two made up ground and fought his way back into second place behind someone who’s not accustomed to not be at the front, Geoff Morgan. Chris La Rosa took to Spencer Harrison’s 911 like he’d being driving the car for years, but was pipped to the final podium place by Rohan Little who put on a stellar performance all weekend.

Entries were down for the more modern categories, which was evident in the P, Q & R event. It was a battle of the March entries; with Kim Jones (80A) & Andrew Makin (73B) swapping wins (although neither hoped for the swap).

The organisers worked with the programme in the lead-up & changed the Group N fixture, as they were grouped together instead of an over & under 3-litre field, and the Saturday Top 10 shootout was lessened to a Top 5. Sunday’s Rose City Touring Car Trophy race covered 20 laps, and by the end was a much strung-out affair with Michael Hibbert (Charger) taking out a huge win from Angelo Tarato (Torana) & Cam Worner (Falcon).

A seemingly similar non-attendance by the other major drawcard with the 10 entries taking to the track in the Group C & A event. Three did not survive the 15 lap ‘pit-stop’ race in Sunday’s feature time, including David Towe who expired with smoke pouring from the front brake area in his M3. Mike Roddy took a deserved win in the Jaguar XJS, miles ahead of the A9X Torana of Steve Parrott & the Milton Seferis Commodore.

Talk around the paddock was that some of the most interesting racing came from the J, K & L field, which was dominated by Group L cars. Ken Bedgood did the Penrite clan proud winning all three races across the weekend. Graeme Raper recovered from missing the first race to finish in the top 10 on Sunday (gearbox replacement Saturday night). The minor places on this podium changed during all three races, displaying the fine racing shown, but it was good to see Dick O’Keefe taking a second in the final.

There were two regularity events, plus an all-Porsche one, and combined the two regular regularity events made up for a vast portion of the entire event grid. Pete ffrench took out a mandatory win for the weekend, but left it to the final, and I managed to leave nominating a time to the final event!, and finished fifth, much to my surprise.

Report by: Charles Rogers / Historic Racing Australia

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