Gone But Not Forgotten – Australian Tracks of Yesteryear

Australia plays host to a number of internationally renowned motorsports events each and every year with Philip Island, Mount Panorama and Albert Park the most notable circuits on the motorsports calendar. But what about the tracks of yesteryear, the tracks that once held events which spectators would flock to in droves? What happened to these tracks and what lays in their place now? We will look to answer a few of these questions in this week’s blog. Oran Park Oran Park closed down in 2010 to make way for a housing development after almost 50 years of racing. The course held a reputation within both the car and motorcycle world as a tight, fast and unforgiving circuit which punished even the slightest mistake. The last Supercar race took place at the venue in 2008, in what also served as Mark Skaife’s final full time race event, Rick Kelly went to win the final race of the weekend while Garth Tander took the round win. Unfortunately, as a result of the housing development there’s not really anything left of the track at Oran Park, with only the street names such as Moffat St, Seton St and Peter Brock Drive to represent the racing of yesteryear.   Surfers Paradise Raceway Racing in Surfers Paradise began long before the days of champ cars, the Indy 300, A1 Grand Prix and Supercars as we know them today. Way back in 1966, Gold Coast Businessman Keith Williams (of Sea World fame) decided to build a co-existing race track and drag strip in Surfers Paradise. The popular track hosted weekly drags as well as the ATCC, Tasman Series and even the 1975 Australian Grand Prix with drivers such as Peter Brock, Dick Johnson, Allan Moffat and Bob Jane racing at the track regularly. As with Oran Park, Surfers Paradise Raceway was demolished to give way to the ever-expanding urban sprawl. Of course racing still continues in the form of Supercars on the iconic Surfers Paradise Street Circuit, so not all racing has been lost in the city.   Catalina Park   Opening in 1960, ‘The Gully’ as it was commonly known was one of the nation’s more treacherous racing circuits including rock walls, cliffs and a narrow track right in the heart of the blue mountains. As a result of its mountainous location, fog issues ensured that many race days encountered scheduling issues. While racing stopped at the venue in 1970, the track was utilised for one lap dashes with single cars up until the 1990’s. In 2002 the site was declared an Aboriginal place. Lobethal Considered by some to be Australia’s Spa-Francorchamps, Lobethal was a fast, flowing street circuit in South Australia. The almost 14km course ran through the towns of Charleston and Lobethal, with scores of spectators basing themselves at the local pubs to watch the racing. The 1939 Australian Grand Prix was raced on the Lobethal circuit, with racers completing 17 laps in the scorching Australian summer – a number of cars were unable to complete the race. The final race meeting was held in 1948, before closed-street racing was banned altogether by the South Australian government. Have you driven or raced around any of these circuits? Or do you have a favourite Australian circuit that’s no longer with us? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page and let us know in the comments section below.

Demolition Derby – Taking a look at the Winton TCM Crash

Back in May at the Winton SuperSprint, motorsport fans witnessed one of the bigger crashes in the history of the Touring Car Masters series. At Rare Spares, we love watching our favourite cars of yesteryear wind back the clock and hit the track in earnest. However, we can’t help but cringe a little when we see these beauties on the back of a truck being towed back to the pits in a crumpled mess! But, it is motorsport and we all know the risks when hitting the track, so in this article we’ll take a quick look at the incident, who was involved and what has gone into getting these masterpieces back on the track. Qualifying at Winton couldn’t have gone much better for Jason Gomersall who was able to place his Big Mate A9X Torana on pole for race 2, declaring it his greatest achievement in motorsport. The team was understandably stoked with the achievement, beating out racing legend John Bowe by mere two-one hundredths of a second. Unfortunately for Gomersall, the weekend became unforgettable for all the wrong reasons less than 24 hours later. Gomersall was off to a cracking start to the race, clearing his competition and heading into turn 2 with the track to himself. From here it all went pear shaped though, losing the rear end of the beautiful Torana he span in front of the oncoming field. What came next can be best described as complete and utter chaos. Gomersall span into the path of Eddie Abelnica and his XB Falcon before being collected by Mark King’s Camaro leaving both cars with very heavy front end damage. The ensuing pack had nowhere to go, with a number of cars finding each other or the surrounding walls. John Bowe was also caught up in the incident, resulting in a few broken ribs and a short stint in hospital. When all was said and done, seven cars were involved in the incident and the race was suspended. With a short turnaround to the Darwin round, many teams faced an uphill battle to get their cars back in racing condition. Gomersall’s Torana sustained extensive damage to the front cross member, steering rack and radiator, however the engine was largely undamaged and the rest of the car from the firewall back was almost unscathed. Incredibly the A9X was back racing in Darwin finishing in P4 for the weekend. Mark King’s Camaro wasn’t quite as lucky, however it’s well on its way to hitting the track again. In the meantime King has been behind the wheel of an incredible looking 1972 GTS Monaro. The TCM series continues in 2017 with rounds remaining at the marquee Supercar events held at Sandown, Bathurst and Newcastle, make sure you don’t miss any of the action! Do you own a TCM worthy classic car? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Pikes Peak 2017 Wrap-up

Known as one of the most extreme racing events in the world, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb roared into Colorado once again in June, with highly accomplished drivers and riders making their way from all corners of the globe to have a crack the famous ‘Race to the Clouds’. While in its current paved form, the course isn’t quite as insane as it once were (check out the iconic short film ‘Climb Dance’ to see what old school Pikes Peak was all about), there’s no doubting the task at hand is only suited to the supremely talented and/or the slightly crazy. Taking the win in 2017 was Romain Dumas, a French Porsche factory driver and former Le Mans 24 hour winner. For Pikes Peak he took the wheel of his Norma MXX RD Limited to take victory for the third time in four years. Despite the impressive victory and a respectable time of 9 minutes and 5 seconds, Romain was left somewhat disappointed in the run and explained that mechanical issues put a stop to having a run at Sebastien Loeb’s incredible record run (8min13sec) in 2013. “It’s difficult to put words to this victory. The primary objective was to win, which is what we did and it’s never easy here. Never. I even questioned whether I’d get to the summit....We got first place, but we wanted so much more that I’m unable to feel completely satisfied today” Said Dumas. While one-off prototypes are undoubtedly incredible, at Rare Spares we can’t help but cast our eyes through the results to find how the classics went! In a throwback to the old school Pikes Peak days, an Audi Quattro S1E2 drew cheers the whole way up the mountain on its way to a respectable to time of 12 minutes and 18 seconds. The 44 year old Porsche 911 RSR driven by Christopher Lennon found itself inside the top 25 outright and 3rd in the open class with a seriously impressive time of 10 minutes and 50 seconds. Arguably the crowd favourite was R J Gottieb in his amazing sounding ’69 Chevy Camaro who was able to tame the mountain in a tick over 11 minutes to wind up inside the top 35 outright. Australia’s best hope of victory in the car category came in the form of Tony Quinn, who piloting his 633kw VR38DETT-powered Ford Focus bodied machine came within 3 kilometers of setting a lighting fast time before his brakes gave way. Although disappointed, the failure hasn’t dampened Quinn’s spirits who has stated he will back to take on the mountain again next year. The most impressive Australian result this year belongs to Sydney born Rennie Scaysbrook, who riding a brand new KTM Super Duke 1290 R finished second outright in the bike category. By doing so, Scaysbrook became only the 3rd man in history to break the 10 minute barrier on a motorcycle. The Pikes Peak Hill climb holds a certain prestige, with competitors and spectators alike respecting that this mountain is a special beast, capable of wreaking havoc on those who take it lightly. Many have stated that the incredible Sebastien Loeb/Peugeot record from 2013 may never be broken, and in fairness no one has come even close yet. However, with a number of incredible custom built hill climb machines popping up across the world, it’s unquestionable that Pikes Peak is sure to retain its incredible reputation long into the future.

Another Car in the Wall – The Nick Mason Car Collection

Better known as the drummer from the iconic band Pink Floyd, Nick Mason is also the proud owner of a car collection that would rival that of most around the world. With approximately 300 cars passing through his ownership over the last half a century, Nick Mason is fortunate to have driven every single one of them, and in many cases has hit the track in some of the most iconic vehicles in automotive history. Mason’s collection currently sits at over 40 and features classics such as the Bugatti T35, Porsche 962, Ferrari 213 T3 and Aston Martin LM18. As impressive as these are, there are still a handful of cars in Mason’s possession that surpass these classics. Ferrari 250 GTO Worth potentially north of $40 Million AUD, Mason was able to purchase this masterpiece for 35,000 pounds back in 1977, and admits to feeling a little bit stupid at the time to be spending so much on a car. Little did he know it would go on to become one of the most valuable cars in automotive history! One of only 39 built, this GTO lives a cosy life, however has been used in the past to drop the kids off at school and has even been spotted parked on London Streets!  Maserati ‘Birdcage’ Tipo 61 Owning the lucrative title as possibly Mason’s favourite car, the Tipo 61 earned the nickname of ‘Birdcage’ as a result of its roughly 200 chro-moly steel tubes welded together to form it’s chassis. The ‘Birdcage’ still hits the track, and has cut laps at the famous Goodwood Revival on more than one occasion. McLaren F1 GTR Unfortunately this car hit the headlines for the wrong reasons earlier this year, as Mason lost control of the car during a demonstration at Goodwood resulting in some relatively high speed contact with a tyre wall. Fortunately the damage was not terminal, and the GTR will live to see another day. To give you an idea of how rare this car is; there were only 106 F1’s built, and of those only 28 wore the GTR badge. The GTR was essentially the race going version of the iconic McLaren Supercar and dominated various GT racing series in the mid-late 90’s. Ferrari 512 S A spectacular car, the Ferrari 512 S did a lot of things right, it had oodles of power and looked absolutely fantastic. However, according to Mason, they didn’t quite get the aerodynamics right, which has led to some interesting moments behind the wheel of the prancing horse. Powered by a 5 litre V12 (hence the name 512), this Ferrari led a somewhat disappointing racing life as it had to contend with the all-conquering Porsche 917. Rules were eventually changed to close the loophole which allowed heavy 5 litre cars to race against the lighter 3 litre cars in the early 70’s sports car racing world, thus rendering the 512 S somewhat obsolete on the track.     This spectacular collection is up with the best we’ve ever seen! Do you know of any other celebrities with impressive car collections? Or maybe you have a burgeoning collection of your own? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Roaring Heart – The Aussie Powered Alfa

In 1986 Paul Helstead and Formula 1 engineer Barry Lock set about building one of Australia’s first supercars; a rear-wheel drive Alfa Romeo Sprint. The initial plan was to pair the Sprint body with a mid-mounted 2.5 litre Alfa Romeo V6, coupled with a ZF 5-speed transmission and Brembo brakes. This hot coupe was to be named ‘Giocattolo’, which translates in Italian to ‘toy’. Shortly after testing began, the Giocattolo team was to face issues in guaranteeing a steady supply of engines from Alfa Romeo, thus the search began for a replacement power source. Halstead and Lock were to eventually decide on the Holden Walkinshaw 5.0 litre V8 Group A engine as the new power plant. Producing 220Kw/500Nm, the new engine package was a rocket, capable of powering the Giocattolo to 0-100kph in just 5.4 seconds, whilst having an electronically limited top speed of 250kph. As a result of the upgraded tires, brakes, transmission and a high tech Formula 1 style rear suspension setup, the Giocatollo possessed handling characteristics not dissimilar to a road registered go-kart on steroids. The interior of the Sprint was also modified in the Giocattollo build process. The standard seats were replaced with leather Recaro’s, a Momo steering wheel was added and the dash was modified to fit the extra gauges. Other interesting features were the new centre console with integrated handbrake lever, power windows, air conditioning and even central locking. As a result of the $80,000AU price tag, the Giocattolo did not sell particularly well, with only 15 of the Italian-Australian supercars were built, including 3 prototypes. In 1989 the Giocattollo closed its doors after 3 years of production, finding that it was not the right time for such a car in the Australian market. Of the 15 built, car number 007 was destroyed in an accident in 2001, whilst one other is unaccounted for. Car number 007 was originally owned by the Brisbane Bears Australian Rules Football Club and was painted in the club’s colours; with a gold exterior and maroon interior. Car number 011 is also believed to have been owned by Lindsay Fox at one point in time, whilst the Queensland Police were even considering using Giocattolo as their pursuit car! All known remaining cars are reported to be in great condition and have been known to change hands for well over the original $80,000 price tag. What is your favourite uniquely Australian car? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Bucking the Trend - How Australia fell in love with the 240z

When Mr Yataka Katayama was employed by Nissan Motor Company back in 1960, he was tasked with marketing a car to the lucrative US market that strayed from the company’s roots of producing no-frills transportation to the local Japanese market. After failing throughout much of the sixties to produce the car that would penetrate the US market, in 1966 development began on a project named ‘Z’. The aim for project ‘Z’ was to produce a car that was powerful, comfortable, had great handling characteristics, looked nothing like a typical Japanese car of the time and it had to be affordable! After 3 years of development, the Datsun 240z was released to the US public in 1969 featuring a SOHC 2.4 litre six-cylinder power plant, disc brakes upfront and independent suspension. Whilst none of those features individually were particularly ground-breaking at the time, the 240z was the first car to include all of these features in an affordable package After any initial problems were ironed out, production of a right hand drive 240z commenced in 1970 before being distributed around the world. The Datsun 240z proved immediately popular amongst car enthusiasts in Australia and has developed somewhat of a cult following in the decades since. Powerful rear-wheel drive cars have always proved popular in the Australia market, and the 240z was a way for the average punter to own a car that was quick, even by today’s standards. The 240z was capable of achieving 0-60mph in 8 seconds before accelerating to a top speed of 125mph (201kph). The 240z was immediately well received in Australia, despite being more expensive than both the Ford GTHO and Cortina. The Japanese 240z benefitted from favourable magazine reviews that in many cases compared the vehicle with miss-matched competition such as the Triumph TR6 and four cylinder offerings from Alfa Romeo and Lancia. These outdated and underpowered cars were no match for Datsun’s comparatively modern 240z. Datsun’s focus on performance during the production process meant that the 240z proved immensely popular in the aftermarket industry, with the car ultimately proving to be a competitive racing package. Although racing of the 240z in Australia did not take off immediately, it was in the Sports Car Club of America meetings where seeing a 240z leading the pack was becoming all too common. Datsun’s involvement in racing in Australia eventually came in the form of the national Australian Rally Championship, with Ross Dunkerton driving the 240z to a series victory in 1975, and the incoming 260z in 1976 & 1977. To this day, the Datsun 240z remains a popular option for car collectors and heritage racers alike, with mint condition, un-modified examples selling for north of $50,000AU. Have you ever owned or driven a 240z? Let us know about your pride and joy on the Rare Spares Facebook page and below in the comments section.

A Word From Cam McConville

13. August 2013 10:19 by Rare Spares in General  //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Normal 0 false false false EN-AU X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} It's been a crazy month since my last post with Rare's but I have finally taken the foot off the gas pedal for a few days. After kicking off the HSV Drive Experience in sunny QLD, I flew to Austria for a FIA Young Driver Academy. This three day driver camp is something that I can now reveal to all of our Rare Spares Facebook fans that I will be running in Australia for CAMS! This was the European version run by former F1 pilot, Alex Wurz and in October I will run the Asia Pacific version in Sydney. The camp focused on driving skills, fitness and sports physiology, all valuable skill sets for a budding race driver. After just three days in Europe (via Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Dusseldorf) to get there it was straight back to Brisbane for the Queensland Raceway V8 Supercars round. Finally on the Sunday night I flew home but only for four hours sleep as our HSV Drive Days kicked in at Sandown on the Monday morning. Bruce (our lucky Rare Spares winner) had a ball and I Iook forward to having more Rare Spares guests along later in the year so stay tuned!! Cheers, Cam.

Win A Day In The Drivers’ Den with Cameron McConville!

Rare Spares are offering two lucky winners an incredible HSV Drive experience with our Ambassador Cameron McConville.   Don’t just meet Cameron McConville, join him for a lap around the track and a full day thrill-seeker experience, learning the tricks of the trade. Improve your skills behind the wheel and enjoy a refreshing lunch with this fantastic prize offering from Rare Spares.  Valued at over $650 The Day in the Drivers’ Den package includes: The chance to meet Cameron McConville and other top racing drivers Experience the GEN-F range: drive the 430kW GTS, the race-bred ClubSport R8, the tradesman’s nirvana, the Maloo R8, the sophisticated Senator Signature and the ultimate freedom machine, the ClubSport R8 Tourer. Learn new skills around circuit driving, understeer/oversteer, ABS and swerve manoeuvres, seating and steering technique and more. A lap around the track with Cameron McConville A smorgasbord lunch with refreshments throughout the day                    "The ultimate HSV drive experience is for any thrill seeker looking to enhance their driving skills in an action-packed day on the track"  Cameron McConville  To enter this promotion click here! Entries close 3pm on July 23rd 2013.