2013 Wakefield Park Historic

23 – 24 February, 2013

The HSRCA was no doubt disappointed when the first NSW historic meeting for 2013 attracted just 140 entries. The competitors, on the other hand, must have been delighted by the extended track time and terrific value. In fact, some categories had fielded so few cars, the organisers were forced to amend their planned program, with just seven fields sufficiently supported to be viable. All were offered seven races, with Group N asking for and getting six slightly longer races instead.

Group Sc/Sb/T
Geoff Morgan started 2013 as he had finished 2012, and won all five races he contested. However, Saturday morning’s wet weather played into Brian Weston’s hands, his nimble MG Midget coming home second ahead of Michael Burn’s Lotus Seven. But Weston’s success turned out to be a one race wonder, with the Midget succumbing to a mechanical malaise in Race 2 from which it didn’t recover. This left Burn – who frequently travels from Victoria to compete at Wakefield – a chance to keep Morgan honest in the drying conditions. When Morgan decided that five races was enough, Burn was rewarded with a win in Race 6. Impressing all weekend was Clay Hunwick from Queensland in his ’57 Group T Corvette, and his win in the seventh race was well deserved. It’s interesting to note the changing face of Group S. Not long ago, the grids were full of MGBs – yet not one was entered for Wakefield. I don’t recall this happening since Sb was introduced.

Group JKL/Sa/Na
This mixed bag of classes is always surprisingly compatible, although the size of a Healey 3000 must be daunting for the driver of a 500cc Cooper. At the pointy end, Brian Duffy’s Healey proved unbeatable, scoring six wins from six races. Paul Armstrong in the Jewitt Holden grabbed second late in the group’s first race, relegating Colin Goldsmith – who had started on the front row – to the last podium position. Next came Fred Geeneklee in his 500cc Cooper Mk 6, Brian Simpson in the Cooper JAP and Dick Willis in the Gladiator. Geoff Morse won all Group Sa point-scoring events in the 1600-2000cc class in his Sunbeam Alpine from Michael Rose’s Alpine, but Rose finally turned the tables on Morse on Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, David Gleen, who had failed to finish his first race, started working his way through the field, and by Sunday morning was giving Duffy some hurry-up from second position in the Anderson Holden. By the final race, several front-runners had loaded their trailers and left, leaving Rod McMullin a chance to win in the Ford V8 Indycar Special from Colin Goldsmith’s Healey. The sole handicap race of the weekend was won by Michael Rose (Alpine) from Richard Rose (MGA) and Bruce Richardson (Nota).

Group M & O Sports and Racing
Wet weather qualifying set the pattern for the weekend – well, almost. Phil Harris in the Brabham BT23c grabbed pole from Paul Hamilton and Ross Hodgson’s Elfins, with Max Pearson’s Brabham BT29 and John Macey’s BT18 following. Further back, John Evans led the sports car brigade in his Lotus Seven. The first race saw a form finish; but when Harris failed to appear for the very wet afternoon race, Hodgson triumphed over Hamilton, and Pearson spun the Brabham – not for the last time as it turned out. On Sunday morning, Harris returned to the fray, leading Hamilton and Hodgson home, while Pearson performed the neatest of pirouettes in the Gurgler. Race 20 on the program was undoubtedly the best battle for the class all weekend. Hamilton won the start, but Harris soon squeezed past. Hamilton was having none of it and forced his way through at the top of the hill, but ultimately it was Harris’s race. Only ten starters turned up for the next race, with Wayne Wilson, who had been getting progressively closer to the front, scoring a win. Then came the “all podium race”. The rain bucketed down deterring all but three drivers, with john Macey recording a win in the BT18 from Wilson and Richard Knox.

Formula Ford/Formula Vee
Horrid conditions for Saturday morning’s practice saw Cameron Walters qualify ahead of Mark Lowing. Once racing commenced, however, things had dried out nicely, and Lowing finished first – as he would in every race he contested. Elwyn Bickley was second with son and father Cameron and Geoff Walters next, the trio doing their best to confuse commentators with their yellow race cars. Late in Saturday afternoon’s race, Bickley and Geoff Walters spun in close company, with Bickley out for the rest of the weekend. Meanwhile, David Cutts had asserted his authority in Formula Vee from Paynter and Nagal. The best battles of the weekend were in middle of the Formula Ford field, with Don Holland, Doug Matley, John Pymble and Kendal Barry-Cotter trading places. Sunday afternoon’s all Formula Ford race was run in the dry, with Lowing again leading the field home. The Formula Vee drivers, however, weren’t so lucky, with a downpour just before the start of the all Formula Vee race. Cutts decided discretion was the better part of valour early in the proceedings, leaving Tony Paynter to take a well-deserved win.

Group N
The strongly supported Group N category provided more competitors than any other class over the weekend – and three different winners. Wet conditions in practice didn’t suit the big V8s, and despite drying conditions, Michael Anderson who started seventh in the XY Falcon GT couldn’t catch Bill Attard’s Mazda RX2. Anderson looked like he had the next race in the bag, but Harry Bargwanna hadn’t read the script and slipped by Anderson on the last lap. Meanwhile, a terrific battle unfolded between the Minis drivers, John and Paul Battersby, Santino Di Carlo and David Wheatley… a scenario which was revisited throughout the weekend. By the third race, Michael Anderson made sure he kept the big Falcon in front, and Bargwanna couldn’t do a thing about it. For the remaining races, Anderson led Bargwanna’s Mustang and Attard and Rogerson’s RX2s, with John Wright (XU1) and Jerry Lenstra (Escort) never far from the leaders. For all the action at the front, however, the sight of Victorian Rodney Wood’s 48-215 humpy Holden probably drew more comment that any other Group N entrant.

Getting it “just right” is never easy in Regularity, but when you nominate a dry time and it rains while you’re sitting on the dummy grid, it’s pretty near impossible. So all credit to Graham Henshaw for winning the first Regularity event in these difficult circumstances in his Mini, and to Joshua Parsons who came second his unusual SWB BMW. Henshaw proved a master of the art by winning the next event, which was held on a dry track, and by scoring two more victories as the weekend unfolded. Other winners included Barry Bates in the Lister Jaguar replica, Danny Berry in a Mini and Phillip Hoad in an XU1. Other regularity regulars recording strong results included Graham Leese (MGB), Kevin Kirk (MGB) Michael Irwin (Alfa) and Heidi Jackel who must have found the Valiant Pacer a handful in the wet.

A good weekend
The best way to finish a weekend’s racing is to drive your undamaged car straight back onto the trailer and head home. In all but three or four cases, the competitors at Wakefield Park could do this despite the conditions – a tribute to them all. And here’s a number to think about: for just 140 competitors, over 90 officials signed on at the tower. Who’d want to run a race meeting?

Report by: John Young

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