A superb day’s racing at the 40th Historic Winton on Saturday 28th May 2016.
The new track surface glistened under the late Autumn sunshine, making for great race conditions.
1960s Racing and Sports-racing cars were first cab off the rank with Pole sitter Keith Simpson (Brabham BT16) making a good start from Laurie Bennett (Elfin 600B). the two stormed away from the rest of the field and provided a close hard-fought racewith Bennett eventually taking the victory by less than 4,000th of a second. Robert McConville held on to an unchallenged third place in his Brabham BT29 well ahead of the chasing pack, led by the first of the Sports-racing cars, the Milano GT2 of Scott Whittaker. Bill Norman took the honours in the rear-engine Formula Junior section in his mighty quick Lynx.
Post war Racing and Sports-racing cars where soon on track, proving to be aurguably the race of the day. Norm Falkner handed over the steering wheel of his very desirable Stanguellini FJ to gun driver, David Hardman. Hardman fastest time in qualifying to sit on Pole position. David Reid got off to a great start in the Cooper-engine Faux Pas, but soon lost the lead back to Hardman with Graeme Marks (Mac Healey) also getting off to a flyer in hot pursuit. Dick O’Keefe (Proton Sports) though gained back the place, with Sam Dymond (Lola Mk1) hot on their heels. Dymond got up to fourth place, but was relegated back to fifth at the finish. Shane Bowden (Prad 5) lost ground early on and finished a strong sixth. The other highlight for the afternoon had to be the Pre-war race. It’s being awhile since we’ve seen such a strong entry of Bugatti at a historic race meeting in Australia, so to have no less than five Grand Prix cars on the grid was a true highlight. Top honours for the Bugatti cars went to Andrew Cannon in his Bugatti T51 finishing in sixth place behind the Aussie V8 Specials of the mid-late 30s design. Richard Longes (Bugatti T35B) in 15th, George Hetrel (Bugatti T35C) in 20th and Alan Telfer (Bugatti T37/35B) in 22nd, while Adam Berryman (Bugatti T37A) didn’t finish with spark problems. Graeme Raper won the event in the Aussie-special, Monoskate.
As daylight broke in nearby Benalla you could see by the brightening clear sky that we were in for a ripper day. On arrival to the circuit through the glazing sunshine the track and infield didn’t take long to loose the overnight frosty haze above the surface. A clear blue late autumn morning in northern Victoria to assist in making the 40th anniversary of historic racing events in Victoria ever more special.
1960s Racing & Sports-racing car (Groups M & O) were the first race of the day. Laurie Bennett (Elfin 600B) and Keith Simpson (Brabham BT14/16) continued their battle from the day before putting in some astonishingly good lap times with Simpson in pursuit. 1:01:69 for Bennett and 1:01:68 for Simpson. Peter Strauss (Brabham BT11 Climax) had qualified fourth on the grid on Saturday, but did so holding the gear shift in as it was popping out of gear – so drove one-handed. Choosing to take discretion he found a substitute car in the garage – his Brabham BT6 Formula Junior, so with a broken gearbox in the BT11 moved to the BT6 and had to crawl his way through from rear of grid. The FJ honours in this race went to Bill Norman from northern NSW in his Lynx Mk3. The battle though was well and truly between the front two drivers who were practically glued together for the 6 laps.
It was Simpson who got the jump in the afternoon race taking an early lead. This was until an uncharacteristic spin relegated him back to finish in 8th place. Bennett taking the hat trick of wins for the weekend.
The Coad Memorial Trophy Handicap race for 1950s Racing & Sports-racing cars (Group LB) took to the track with the handicappers nearly getting it spot on. The first three finishers were untroubled for most of the race, but the chasing pack of about 15 cars crossed the finish line in very close order. Well done to David McIndoe (Elford) for the win and rounding out the podium were Andrew Woodall (Slotus) and John Anderson (Cooper Butler).
The afternoon’s Mark Dymond Trophy race was full of action too. Saturday’s race winner, David Hardman (Stanguellini FJ lost the lead early to David Reid (Faux Pas) who stormed away to a very convincing win. Sam Dymond (Lola Mk1) was running in third place until the esses before the finish line when she lost control and spun. No contact was made (apart from possibly a bruised ego) and finished in 10th. Of note was the performance by Brian Simpson (Cooper JAP Mk9) who finished well in 8th. Pre WWII racing events for the day started with the running of the Lou Molina Trophy. It was the later era ‘Aussie-built Specials’ that dominated the top positions of the race with Graeme Raper adding to previous trophy wins in Monoskate. Andrew Cannon (Bugatti T51) was the first of the Vintage Grand Prix cars to finish (sixth). In the afternoon’s Col. Arthur Waite Trophy Handicap race it was the fast cars that conquered with Jim “Stumpy” Russell (Ford V8 Special) taking a memorable victory from Raper, with John Lockey third in his replica of the Alan Tomlinson 1939 AGP-winning MG TA Special. Production Sports Cars of the ‘80s & 70s (Groups Sb & Sc) put on their usual dose of close racing with Paul Blackie (Corvette Stingray) the man to beat. The third and final race of the weekend was the thriller with two Series 4 Lotus Super 7s battling with a Porsche for spots on the podium. The ever quick Mike Bryne (Lotus) was first on the hunt to pass Tony Floreani (Porsche 911), and did so before being passed back, then for some rason dropped off the pace mid race. So from red to orange-red Floreani’s mirrors were quickly filled with the second of the Super 7 S4s with Queensland’s Grant Craft having a blinder of a race giving havoc to Floreani in middle section of the Alan Jones Memorial Trophy race only to retire on lap 6. The consistent Adriano Dimauro (Alfa Romeo GTV 2000) managed to grab back third place through all of this, and in a near photo finish pipped the hard-charging Bryne to the finish line by 2,000 of a second. A thriller finish with Bryne also lowering his existing lap record time with a 1:06:73 on lap 7.
To cap of a marvelous weekend of historic motor sport we witnessed another close-fought Production Touring Car (Group N) race. Darryl Hansen (Ford Mustang) took out race one on Saturday afternoon, but then Les Walmsley (Chrysler Charger) had dusted off the cobwebs by Sunday and took the final two races in convincing fashion. The chasing pack including Hansen, Tony Hubbard (Chev Comaro) third, Peter Van Summeren(Ford Escort) fourth, and Jason Armstrong rounding out the top five in his Mini Cooper S. With only one reasonably major incident the weekend was dominated by heaps of track time and great spectator viewing. The next Historic Winton will be on the traditional last weekend of May date in 2017.