We are lucky as a club to be supported by a strong committee made up of hard working and passionate people. You may know some well, but others not as much. So, over the next couple of weeks we are going to go behind the scenes and spend some time getting to know the people keeping our club running smoothly in 2020.
Wayne Wilson, Brabhams BT 21 and BT29 – Group O: A Late Starter who has Raced Around the World
By John Young
Wayne Wilson’s enjoyment of motor racing started early. He grew up opposite Westmead Speedway, and soon was attending the Sydney Showground Speedway, where he sold National Speed Sport, a newspaper devoted to Speedway. “Get your Speedsport, 10 cents” was the cry as he and a mate harassed punters in the stands. Another early memory was attending the Australian Grand Prix at Warwick Farm in 1967 and seeing Jack Brabham in the Repco Brabham.
For all this, Wayne didn’t take to the track for many more years. One day, a work colleague identified him as an enthusiast from the Ferrari Club (Wayne says everyone should own one) in the company carpark, and suggested they attend an HSRCA historic meeting at Amaroo together. “That was in 1996,” he recalls. “I was wandering around the pits and there was a Rennmax with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. It needed work, but I couldn’t resist the temptation and the deal was done.”
The Rennmax was taken to Herb Neal, who restored the car. By January 1998, at the last historic meeting held at Amaroo, the car was ready to race.
Wayne recalled, “Herb did a terrific job on the car and it was immediately competitive, but the learning curve was steep.” He continued, “Practice went pretty well, and soon it was time for my first ever race. I remember looking up and seeing Herb nearby and yelling, ‘How do you start these things?’ Herb shouted back, “Seven grand and drop it’, so I went out and did just that.”
Pretty soon Wayne was a top ten qualifier in what some people called the fastest push rod car of its type, maybe in the world. He competed in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia accompanied by his dad Peter (a former bike racer) who became famous for the meals cooked in the garages. But after a decade, Wayne found he wanted more, and a sign appeared on the Rennmax which read, ‘When I grow up I want to be a Twin Cam.’
“I won the Dawson-Damer handicap Trophy race in 2011 in the Rennmax and recollected the advice of Herb that “we are here for a good time, not a long time”. So, Wayne stepped up to a Brabham BT-29, which had been fitted with a twin cam engine in period for the American Formula B series. “The late Ron Tauranac was kind enough to describe it as being better than when it left the factory,” said Wayne.
The Sydney-based accountant had ankle surgery in 2013, and with a view on what it was like NOT to be able to race, decided to expand his racing horizons to the iconic circuits of Europe. Wayne contacted Tim Kuchel in Adelaide, who had a similar dream, and a great adventure was planned – HTP for the Brabhams, shipping, Motorhome, Trailer, a crew of helpers and ferry crossings were organised.
A Brabham BT-21C was acquired from Ed Holly at the end of 2014, which then competed at historic meetings at Silverstone, Monza, Spa, Brands Hatch, Nurburgring, Zandvoort, Dijon, Magny-Cours, Le Mans, and Snetterton. Highlights of this time included a class win at Pau in 2016 (a meeting which this writer happened to attend as a spectator) but the great memory will always be the 50th Anniversary of Jack’s win at Reims with three Aussie Brabhams.
As is so often the case, Wayne cited the camaraderie in the paddock as one of the factors that has kept him in the sport, remarking, “People are always prepared to pitch in and help both here and in Europe. The atmosphere is great and everyone always has a good time. If it wasn’t so, I wouldn’t do it.”
There seemed little point in asking Wayne what his dream racing car would be; after all, he has two Brabhams. Even so, there were hints of more things to come when we first spoke for this story. And the news has now broken: Wayne has sold the BT-29 and acquired a BT-35 from the family of his mate Tim Kuchel, who passed away last December. That car was restored by Tim as his last project and driven by Tim at his last meeting at Phillip Island 2019 – if it can get out of South Australia it will be at least on display at SMP in November.
As for road cars, he’s equally satisfied, his BMW M2 Competition being both quick and practical. Looking back, Wayne concluded, “I’ve found I can drive reasonably well, even though I was a bit intimidated to start with.” It’s been a great journey, and clearly one that isn’t finished.