It’s the Pits: August 2018

Catch up on all the news in the world of J, K and L with Mal Reid’s August 2018 edition of the newsletter for pre-1930s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s historic racing and sports cars, covering 2018’s Historic Winton and Historic Queensland.

It’s the Pits: August 2018

By Mal Reid

This year’s Austin 7 Historic Winton, held over the weekend of May 26 – 27, was blessed with some of the best weather we have seen for years. There was no driving rain, no freezing winds – just beautiful sunshine and ideal racing conditions.

A reasonable field of cars was entered including 31 Ls and 21 JKs hitting the track for practice. This compared favourably with last year’s entry, which was a relief to the organizers after entries were down at the big Phillip Island meeting earlier in the year.

The Ls were first out on track and Brian Simpson in the little Cooper J.A.P. put on a demonstration of why this car is so suited to the tight Winton layout. He secured pole from David Reid in the Faux Pas. The Photon Lotus of Dick O’Keefe and Lola Mk1 of Samantha Dymond filled row 2. All but Greg Smith in the MG-Holden (head Gasket) and Dick Willis, Nota Major (lost wheel) completed qualifying, leaving a solid field to face the starter for the Mark Dymond Trophy race on Saturday afternoon.

Track conditions appeared to be very good, with the Repco-engined Faux Pas getting the better of Samantha Dymond. A best lap of 1.09:9 and only a second separating the two cars set the scene for some top racing over the weekend. It was a disappointing result for Samantha, as she would have dearly loved to win the race which was held in memory of her brother Mark. At the trophy presentation on Saturday night, Mrs. Dymond presented David with the trophy and jokingly suggested that had Dave been a gentleman, he would have let Sam win.

The first race on Sunday morning was the Coad Memorial Trophy handicap race. As a handicap race, the result is always a bit of a lottery and the scratch markers have the difficult task of passing 25-30 cars in only six laps. Andrew Woodall in the Slotus Clubman crossed the line with a comfortable win some twelve seconds in front of John Evans’ Elfin Streamliner and Fred Brock’s MG TC special.

After a few early retirements, the field had thinned a little for Race 3 on Sunday afternoon. Following the retirement of the beaut little Nota Minx on Saturday, David Reid offered the Faux Pas to Rob Leslie to drive, jumping into the Sulman Singer for the day. Brian Simpson finally got the Cooper operating after two DNFs and crossed the line first in Group L and second overall to the Group M Invited Lotus of Dick O’Keefe.

The most miserable weekend award has to go to Greg Smith, who picked up three DNFs from three starts in the MG Holden Mono, which spent the whole weekend playing up.

As mentioned earlier a solid field of 21 of our older cars practiced. Even though they’re aging, some of them are going faster than ever! Graeme Raper in the George Reed Monoskate Ford V8 was simply in a field of his own. He set an amazing time of 1.11:98 to secure pole position. Jim ‘Stumpy’ Russell (Ford V8) was a little off the pace with a 1.16:35 in second, although still ahead of the big six-cylinder Dodge Special of Andrew Box and Rob Harcourt’s Lancia Meadows.

It was disappointing to see just one Austin 7 entered for the meeting. Graham Steinfort handed the driving duties over to his son Stuart for the meeting, which was great to see. The family involvement will keep many of our cars active for years to come. I know that both David Reid and I get as much fun seeing the Sulman Singer being driven by a “works driver” as we do driving it ourselves. As Racing Ronnie Reid always said – these cars are made to race, not sit in a shed.

The J & K Douglas Briese Trophy was the first event for our older cars, and Graeme Raper simply ran away from everyone else. He finished over 30 seconds ahead of Jim Russell. Rob Harcourt proved too good for the rest of the big-engined cars, claiming a terrific third place in the four-cylinder Lancia.

Some magic battles took place a little further down the field. Only four seconds separated the Gerard Miller Plymouth, David Stewart’s Dodge, Peter Statton’s Mercury V8 and yours truly in the Sulman Singer. It was also great to have a 100% finish rate, with no retirements and a full field ready for Sunday’s first race.

The Lou Molina Trophy was the first JK race on Sunday morning and saw the mighty Monoskate continuing on its winning way, setting a new Group K record to boot. Graeme posted a 1.11:93, breaking Greg Neal’s long-standing mark. Well done Graeme!

Neil Murdock was the great improver in the race, pushing the MG TB to a fine fifth place ahead of several big bangers. The TB is a beaut – a top running car and very enjoyable to watch in Neil’s hands as he improves with every outing.

The Monoskate helped Graeme net three from three for the weekend with another win in the last race, but it was Rees Mackay in the Riley 9/14 who leapt from the back of the grid to finish seventh. There was some truly terrific mid-field action during the race, and I for one had some of the best dices I’ve had for ages, with six cars finishing the race less than three seconds apart.

All in all this was another quality meeting – one ideally suited to our old bangers. You couldn’t complain about the weather either, and it even held out until after most of the cars were safe and sound on their trailers.

The HRCC’s Morgan Park Historic Queensland was next on the calendar, and the following report is thanks to Dick Willis.

The HRCC’s 2018 Historic Queensland

By Dick Willis

Historic Queensland over the weekend of the 14th & 15th of July was a huge event for Queensland and the historic motorsport community in general. The event attracted nearly 300 entries and a great turnout of spectators. Unfortunately for us, the bulk of the entry was in the form of tin tops, but that seems to be the way of the world these days.

Our JKL events attracted 20 starters, which comprised five Formula Juniors, one Group M Racing, two Group M Invited sports, a Group K, five Formula Vees, another Group M Sports, An Austin Healey Four and just four Group Lbs. Thanks to all for entering.

While Vees might be considered compatible with our cars because they lap in somewhat similar times, they achieve this by cornering and braking better while being bog slow on the straights. At Phillip Island they solve this problem by having them start in a grid of their own some 30 seconds behind the main grid if they must be combined with JKL fields. Why can’t they follow this Phillip Island example at other circuits to avoid us tripping over one another?

The three quickest Formula Juniors were expected to be the class of the field, but they hadn’t counted on the enthusiasm of David Reid in the Repco Holden-powered Faux Pas, who showed them the way home in two of the races. On the way, David set a new Group L record of 1.29:624, which will take some beating!

David made the long trip from the Southern Highlands of NSW accompanied by Frank Cuttell and John Medley, so you can imagine what a riot of a trip that would have been.

In fifth place was yours truly in the Nota Major, now back on four wheels after its Winton disaster. Somehow it lost its braking effectiveness in that episode, so it’s back to the drawing board there. Next was Warwick McBean in the Holden-powered Lotus Sports, until the engine bearings cried enough in sympathy for his Nota TACE, which suffered a similar fate at Wakefield Park recently. Barry Bates in the Thompson Lola ran reliably and had some close tussles with Mike Gosbell in the Sabakat, until Mike found that it would go quicker if he pushed the loud pedal further down.

Meanwhile, Steven Anderson in the Group K Woltri (Wolseley engine and Triumph chassis, or is it the other way around?) and Craig Carlson in the green TC Special were closely matched.

So, as they say in the classics, a great time was had by all except for the dust, etc. (there’s a drought on you know). The circuit and hospitality are something to be enjoyed, and it still beats me why more of our southern friends don’t take advantage of it. If a horde of Humpy Holdens from down south can do it, why can’t our fellow racers with proper racing cars?

Dick Willis

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