We’re back from an eventful weekend at the 2023 HSRCA Summer Festival, which ran over the 25th & 26th of November at Sydney Motorsport Park. Time to catch up on all the action on and off the track.
Having enjoyed a picture perfect weekend at the 2023 HSRCA Sydney Classic, the weather for the first half of the Summer Festival presented a few more challenges. Rain fell freely through Friday practice, and while things improved for Saturday, we were still left with intermittent rain and hot and humid conditions. Sunday turned the weather around with sunshine to dry out the track and a pleasant breeze that kept humidity in check. We even had a few surprise sun showers just to keep things interesting.
Entries were solid, if not spectacular, and the full field numbered just over 170 once we accounted for some unfortunate withdrawals waiting on parts or repairs. The pits and paddock were, as always, friendly and relaxed with drivers, mechanics, family, friends and spectators taking the opportunity to enjoy the racing and catch up with each other after the long break following the Sydney Classic.
Private practice was hosted by the ARDC on Friday, giving competitors an opportunity to get settled in, test and tune ahead of a big weekend of historic motor sport, particularly important considering the challenging conditions. Supersprint opened the meeting on Saturday morning, and we ran 41 events between then and Formula Ford’s final race on Sunday afternoon – an impressive effort not possible without smooth collaboration between drivers, officials and organisers. Thank you!
Group S and Group M & O featured at the Summer Festival, with the former running an enduro race that well lived up to its name on Sunday morning, and the Dawson-Damer trophy contested after lunch on Sunday.
Qualifying on Saturday morning was met with the worst conditions of the weekend for Group S, with Wayne Seabrook’s pole time some 13 seconds slower than his fastest lap over the weekend. A cautious session led to a somewhat jumbled grid for the first race, which settled into a more representative spread after the first four-lap dash.
Sunday morning dawned sunny and dry, and we were pleased to see six or seven drivers take the opportunity to complete the driver change in the Group S enduro race, including Wayne Seabrook took a comfortable win driving alongside Spencer Rice, the pair reaching the finish line with nearly a minute of clean air back to second place Doug Barber. Doug enjoyed a less relaxed finish, third place finisher Simon Meyer hot on his heels and just two seconds behind in the Midget after more than 40 minutes of racing and 22 laps.
Following the enduro race, the group held a trophy presentation provided by the Royal Automobile Club. Simon Meyer received the perpetual trophy for Group Sb, outrunning his brother Damien whose name already adorns the trophy more than once, with the trophy for Sc going to Wayne Seabrook.
The Dawson-Damer trophy was brought home by Victorian Laurie Bennett, who secured a comfortable win in the 1970 Elfin 600B. While Laurie enjoyed nearly 30 seconds of clean air, things were much tighter through the rest of the field, which presented a well fought and closely matched competition. Club President Wayne Wilson finished the race second, with long serving ex-Vice President David Kent in third.
The full L, M, O & P field saw a wonderful selection of classic machinery compete, everything from the quick Rennmax, Brabham and Elfin M & O cars to the oldest car that ran this weekend – Peter Lubrano’s 1947 MG TC Special.
Richard Carter was quick out of the gates, running a 2:07.52 in qualifying that saw him nearly three seconds faster than David Kent and John Ashwell, but Laurie Bennett found his feet in time for race one and took the first win of the weekend, David Kent moving into second. Carter was back on top in race two ahead of Bennett, with Paul Hamilton appearing on the podium following in a close fight with Kent. In fine conditions on Sunday morning, Bennett was back on top, Wayne Wilson now in second, a result they repeated in the final race of the weekend.
Taking a look at the timed classes, the Summer Festival saw our first efforts to introduce the new Early Modern Regularity class to historic competition, and we were pleased to be joined by some new drivers in support of the class. We look forward to developing this class, offering new opportunities to compete and introducing new drivers to the community.
Supersprint was supported by a varied and interesting field that included the first of these cars. Brad Robinson in the Torana topped qualifying, running a 2:00 in the damp conditions, followed by Garth Selig in the stealthy grey Lotus and Andrew Cook in third. Next was an impressive array of Mustangs, including the superbly presented Warren De Guara example, a Nova, Clubman, Phil Hoad’s very tidy XU1, the beautiful Ferrari replica and the Elan of John Culvenor.
Moving on to the first run of the day, the order was repeated, although Selig and Cook were getting things dialled in and closing the gap to Robinson’s Torana. Run 2 saw the order move around with the Cook BMW, Selig Lotus, Finch Clubman and Hoad XU1 filling the top four places.
Cook, Finch, Robinson and Lewis claimed the top four in run three, which also saw the lovely A9X hatchback of Zochling out in the sunshine. Run four rounded out the weekend, but unfortunately was cut short due to an incident. Prior to the red flag, Finch got into the 1:49s with Cook and Selig close by.
Regularity drew 19 cars to the race meeting, and continues to attract a wide variety of vehicles. Alongside Alfa, Healey, Lotus, MG, Alpine and Porsche, we were pleased to see the very neat MG ARA Special from our international visitor Eli Solomon and the unique Buckle Lightweight of Kristy Crampton. We also welcomed Thomas Derwent from the newly promoted Early Modern Regularity group and the return of an older long term competitor of the group in Warren De Guara, who debuted his immaculate newly built Mustang.
Thomas Derwent in the Mazda and Geoff Burgess in the Alfa Romeo led the category most of the weekend, but it was the wise old owl of Bruce Melville in the Lotus Elan that kept the Regularity point score in check and won the event with 764 points.
Being the final event of the year, the Summer Festival was the venue for the group’s annual awards ceremony, with the Ian Forsyth Trophy presented to the point score champion Richard Rose, the Graham Henshaw Trophy presented to the best performing Touring Car in Brad Robinson and the Peter Finlay Trophy awarded to Eli Solomon in the MG ARA Special.
We were particularly pleased that Graham Henshaw joined us from far north Queensland and was there to present the trophy which bears his name. Thank you Graham!
Sticking with the tin tops, Group N saw a dominating performance by Jamie Tilley in the newly-completed ’69 Mustang, eventually dropping into the low 1:46s and running nearly 5 seconds a lap quicker than anyone else. Competition was close throughout the field, Tom Tweedie an Andrew Bergan evenly matched in the Minis and keeping the Mustang of Graeme Woolhouse and Charger of John Burke honest, Quentin Bland in the Capri and David Noakes junior in the Escort also quick and making their way to the podium in the final two races of the weekend.
Looking at entries for the Vees a clear favourite emerges – eight Spectres on the time sheets at the Summer Festival. Four of these appeared in the top six in qualifying, which Tony Paynter led in his 1971 Stag Formula Vee. Race one saw David Cutts demote Paynter to second, Dean Briggs moving into third, a result repeated in race two.
Cutts was just as good in clear conditions on Sunday morning for race three, leading Paynter with Stephen Normoyle moving into third and again finishing in that order for the final race. Accordingly, David Cutts was awarded The Bernie Haehnle Trophy as the winning driver. Two new drivers raced on the weekend in Justin Pogson, new to motor racing, and Paul McDonald, returning after a break of numerous decades.
In Q & R Sports & Racing Malcolm Oastler was the quickest to find his feet in the wet conditions, leading Sean Whelan and Aaron McClintock in qualifying. Malcolm remained on the pace in the first race of the weekend, Malcolm Boyd moving Aaron McClintock into fourth despite Aaron running the fastest lap of the race – his 1:52 more than four seconds faster than the lead cars.
In dry conditions and following an unfortunate DNF on Saturday afternoon, Chris Farrell took the Ralt RT 2 to his first race win early on Sunday, Andrew Kluver also moving the Budweiser Lola T332 CanAm car up into the pointy end after struggling to find his feet early in the meeting.
Formula Ford did the honour of closing both the meeting and our 2024 historic motor racing season. Qualifying found Peter Lucas comfortably at the head of the field, leading Bruce Connolly and Mark Lowing, setting up an order that would persist throughout the weekend until Lucas suffered an unfortunate DNF in the final event. This promoted Connolly and Lowing and gave some space to Kieran McLaughlin from Canberra to finish on the podium in third.
There were two major incidents on Sunday afternoon which required medical intervention. We are able to say that we have been in contact with both drivers. The driver in the Group N event (who has requested privacy) is recovering in hospital with non life-threatening injuries and is expected to make a full recovery. The driver from the Sprint event is also in hospital where he is under observation and may receive further treatment.
We never like to see these incidents in our historic events but we all know that motor racing is dangerous, and we continue to express our gratitude to the ambulance and rescue crews who attended these incidents, and indeed to all the trackside officials that watch over us. Our motor racing chaplain Richard Cormick assisted at the circuit and has attended the hospital, conveying our best wishes for a speedy recovery.
We’d like to extend our most important ‘THANK YOU!’ to the many people who support us in making an event like the Summer Festival possible, from the many volunteers and staff who perform vital roles around the circuit on the weekend, to all those involved behind the scenes in the months that lead up to it, as well as the circuit and ARDC for hosting and running private practice.
We are also deeply appreciative of all of the competitors, family and friends who continue to support our events and the HSRCA, particularly in these challenging economic times.
We’d be going nowhere fast without you and are greatly appreciative of all that you do.
Thank you from Robyn, Noel, Rod, Wayne, and the HSRCA committee for your support of the 2023 HSRCA Summer Festival, and the club and community in 2023. We’re looking forward to working and playing with all of you again in the new year, and wish you all the best for a happy holiday break and healthy and successful 2024 and beyond.
Speaking of 2024 – our dates are locked in, with hopes for more at our favourite countryside circuit on the way. Join us at the 2024 Sydney Classic June 8 – 9, the 2024 Summer Festival November 30 and December 1, and, for the first time, in support of the inaugural Canberra Festival of Speed, March 2-3.
Until then, click through the following links and enjoy a wonderful selection of images with thanks to the many talented photographers who help us document our meetings.
With thanks to Campbell Armstrong Rider, Grant Carroll, Steve Haskell, Wayne Jones, Steve Koen, Seth Reinhardt, Mark Richards, Stuart Row, Geoff Russell, Peter Schell, John Smith and Mark Walsh. Click their names to head to their websites for more, or email Seth at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re looking for something from him, Mark Peter or either Steve.