The Winton Festival of Speed was targeted by the HFVAA as a preferred meeting based on its location close enough from Sydney and close to Melbourne. This was rewarded with an entry of 24 vees, 12 from NSW and 11 from Vic and Don as usual representing SA. It was fantastic to see around 20 cars parked in the garage together.
It was great to see some new young faces from Victoria. Shame they brought their weather with them. It didn’t rain all the time, only mostly. And the only reason to put the beer in the fridge was to stop it getting too cold.
Most of the NSWelsh arrived on Thursday afternoon ready for Friday practice. An early scratching was Kevin O’Toole who’d left Sydney at 2 am on Friday morning to make the second practice session on Friday. After the first session his handling problems were traced to an ineffective camber cable. Repaired for the second session all was good until Kevin received a phone call to say his wife was ill. So Kevin had to pack up and head back up the highway. Kevin has battled bad luck with the car for a number of meetings but has persisted. It’s a shame that the car problems seem to be solved but fate intervened in another way.
So the rest of us splashed our way around to refresh our memories or in some cases learn the circuit. A large puddle on the apex of the turn onto the back straight caused some of us to return from the first session soaked through. As usual the green parts of the circuit hid some very brown mud so a few cars came back looking like extreme off-roaders. As the weekend went on many more came back looking like cow pats!
President Kevan would like it recorded that his car was not one of them!
The wet track tends to expose issues not so obvious in the dry. After spinning every time he braked Ian B found that his brake bias was totally to the rear. It wasn’t until overnight on Saturday that he managed to overcome the problems with the balance bar. Those among us, including your reporter, who were caught out be lack of availability of new Dunlops and hence running old tyres with nearly no tread found the conditions testing.
On Friday evening the Glenrowan group had an early beer and meal. Some headed off to a warm bed for early lights out while others stayed on to review the day’s proceedings until a little later into the night. It was a leisurely start on Saturday as most had scrutineered on Friday and practice wasn’t until 11.30. Practice was again on a damp to drying track. Nigel Hooke set a best time that would have been acceptable in the dry, followed by Nigel Jones and Daniel Bando. Grant Kelly missed setting a time due to gear linkage problems after a gearbox swap. A number of the cars returned to the pits with a coating of mud.
The first race was a Nigel benefit, Hook in front of Jones. Connor Ryan made it to third 3 tenths behind NJ. The track was drying and probably the best we were to see all weekend. Your reporter’s support team had arrived at the circuit and the pressure was on to improve a very mediocre starting position. A great start saw me get from 16th up to 9th before a little too much speed and some off line into the esses saw me join the dirty car brigade. How do you get mud on the top of the seat back? As I went rotary to the inside of the track I spotted someone else rejoining on the other side. And we weren’t the only ones! The prize goes to Don who reportedly went straight ahead at turn one, across country through the pond behind the marshall’s hut and rejoined the black bit of the circuit at turn 3. This earned him the commentator’s most entertaining water spray of the day award!
The Glenrowan team again convened for a beer and meal at the pub, the group expanded by the arrival of Matt’s family and Ms Cutcher. As usual many of the drivers were supported by family and friends including the Kelly family all present with their heater in the pits, Daniel’s dad in the role of ‘transport officer’ (according to Daniel), Nigel’s brother, Tash supporting Ian B as usual and Denise and Lisa supporting Kevan and Pete. And many others that I didn’t get to meet.
Sunday was again a relaxed start with our first race scheduled for midday. With no improvement in the weather a few elected to put cars on trailers including Alex, Peter Mohacsi and Geoff Stone. Maybe Geoff was still dizzy from the day before and the task of cleaning the car too daunting. And he told me his tyres had grip! Yeah!
Race 2 saw a new winner, Conor Ryan. Nigel Hook took second with Pete Iredale in third. Nigel Jones had car issues and joined the other three Rennmax Mk2’s at the blunt end of the field. Phil Parkinson was thrilled to be the first Mk2 to finish!
Our third race was the last race of the day so many elected to head off early. While they were packing up I watched the Group N’s and S’s on a wet track. Even the lowest powered N’s were getting wheelspin up the incline out of the esses. The Group S race was one of the most entertaining I’ve seen for a long time. It started with a Geoff Morgan spin in the first corner and thereafter it was constant action. At least 6 cars spun on the short straight out of the esses, fortunately without any contact.
In the early afternoon the weather fined up and the radar showed no rain in the area. A dry race at last! 11 cars faced the starter for the third race. Your reporter again took advantage of the dryish track to pick up a number of places on the first lap. And then – down came the rain! After yet another spin at the end of the back straight due to lack of grip under brakes I decided to just do the best I could in the circumstances while staying pointed in the right direction. Ian B was suffering similar tyre disadvantage and a spin at the same time so we had our own private race until Ian got past and disappeared into the distance. So a first for me, last that is!
This race saw Conor with another win. Pete got to the chequered flag second this time with Grant Kelly overcoming his disappointing start to the weekend with a third. Daniel was uncharacteristically down the order. Maybe the warm up lap spin spooked him?
Any racing weekend is a good weekend and this had its high points. But the weather was testing. It was great to see a garage with around 20 vees and few more elsewhere around the pits. There were very few mechanical issues and Grant was the only one to lose track time. You need to do Friday practice Grant! Despite the number of spins and dirty cars there was no damage all weekend.
It was also great to see virtually equal numbers of entries from Vic and NSW. It’s been a goal for a long time!
And it’s great to see some of the young guns winning.
And I’m off to buy new tyres!