Story and photos by Vince Johnson
Drivers from the United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Belgium, Germany and New Zealand joined the Aussies at the 28th Phillip Island Classic on the weekend before the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix. Attracted by the sweeping island circuit south of Melbourne, they enjoyed three days of racing across nineteen categories.
Following practice and qualifying, the oldest of them all, (car not driver) Alan Telfer’s 1926 Bugatti 37/37B was the most consistent of the forty-one competitors in the first Regularity matched-lap-times event on Friday afternoon. During the weekend, second places were earned by Gerard Knapp’s 1974 Alfa Romeo 1600 GT Junior and Bob Pinkerton’s 1955 Peugeot Belchamp GP. Others to do well were Trevor McPherson’s 3rd in his 1968 Alfa Romeo 1750 GT Veloce, Ernst Luthi’s 4th in his 1971 Alpine Renault A110 and Peter Axford’s 1970 Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato. Richard Longes’ 1927 Bugatti 35B almost matched Telfer’s in the age stakes.
Also running in Regularity and just a little different was Steve Boyle’s 1972 Fiat 125T. One of 86 cars produced for homologation in Production Saloon Car Racing in New Zealand, the target number was 200 so it was never homologated. Delivered to Torino Motors Auckland, North Island NZ, its early history includes competing in the Benson & Hedges 500 Mile Race in October 1972 as one of the 3 works entries, finishing 7th outright – driven by Peter Hughes and Tony Lawrence. It also competed in Historic Racing in the late 80’s and early 90’s, taking at least one class title and competed in the inaugural Targa NZ Tarmac Rally.
Since acquiring it in 2007 Steve has returned the car to its original specification with just some extra engine tuning, resulting in now 160hp (125hp was original) from the Twin Cam 1608cc. Used in competition whenever possible, it travels all over the country from home base in Western Australia. The car is a real warhorse and has seen more track miles in its 45 years than all but a few.
At the Island the car was driven in Regularity Division 1 and 2 categories by Steve and Martin Piercey, resulting in 63 laps completed with a 2nd and 3rd place finish from 4 events. Having kept it as refreshingly original as possible Steve plans to keep using it in any meeting that will have it.
1983 Le Mans winner Vern Schuppan celebrated his birthday weekend with a shoulder workout, stretching the legs of his 1948 Lago Talbot T26C previously campaigned by Ron Townley. Trevor Montgomery was back with the supercharged ex-Davison 1928 ‘Little Alfa’ 6C. Another among the Italians in Regularity was Phillip Simmie’s 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulia 101 Sprint.
Barry McAdie & Colin Stark also ran Alpine Renault 110s. Colin’s 1971 car was rallied by the factory works team in France until 1973 and imported by Colin three years later. Weighing just 660kg, with 165bhp it boasts the impressive power/weight ration of 250bhp/tonne.
Arguably the prettiest car on track was the Dino 206 S-R of Philip Lewis. Constructed as a recreation of chassis 032 in the 1990’s by Sam Johnson in Australia, and inhaling through three 45mm Webers, its dry-sump Dino 2.3-liter V6 is mated to a Renault R19 transaxle.
It wasn’t the only Dino V6 on track. From Buckinghamshire, England, Keith Martin’s 1971 Dulon Dino LD10B raced in the M Sports category with its 2-litre V6. Almost 200 Dulon cars were made for a decade from 1967 by Andrew Duncan and Bill Longley at the Maxperenco Company near Oxford, UK. Several sports racers, with steel chassis and aluminium and glassfibre body were built for the international Group 6 formula and fitted with Cosworth, Porsche or Ferrari engines. Delivered new to Germany, it competed in international races and hillclimbs in Europe before Keith took it over in 1996. Like many others during the weekend, he made good use of extra track time in Regularity in addition to the racing categories.
Seasoned competitor Guido Belgiorno-Nettis had the loudest Ferrari V6. In Formula 5000, Q & R Racing, his ex-Stefan Johansson 1985 Ferrari 156/85 was second fastest only to event patron John Bowe in the 1974 March 741, taking 3 class wins. Driven by Johansson late last year at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival (see VeloceToday December 20, 2016) its cockpit now sports Stefan’s signature. Also in the pit garage was #27, Guido’s 1985 ex-Alboreto backup car.
In Group C Richard Magolfin in the Gil Gordon 1972 Alfa Romeo 2000GTV was never headed all weekend, taking 5 wins from 5 races in the 2-litre class. Almost as dominant, in group Sc were Ross Jackson’s 1972 De Tomaso Pantera (4 class wins and a second) and Adriano Dimauro’s 1973 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 (3 class wins and 2 seconds). Tony Karanfilovski brought home 3 second places in his 1979 Alfetta GTV. Robert Burns kept the BMW, Cortina, Escort and Datsun opposition at bay in the under 2-liter Group N races until Sunday afternoon with 3 wins in his 1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000.
At Phillip Island racing engines may start at 9am each day and the track stays live until 5pm. Regular visitor Paddins Dowling can always be relied on to bring one of his classics from the USA. This year it was his ex-Peter Whitehead 1936 ERA R10B. Immaculate but no trailer queen, it was on track all weekend in Group K and Regularity, trading places with Charles McCabe’s California-based 1936 ERA R5B ‘Remus’. This car began its racing life with Siam’s Prince Chula in the ‘White Mouse’ team, being taken over later by Tony Rolt and John Bolster.
From the UK Pedro Silva brought Ford GT111, one of the four GT40 prototypes. With 1965 Targa Florio history, the open car has been rebuilt to original specification and showed it is more than race ready. Equally at home on the track German Rhea Sautter showed her sense of humor as well as her competitive spirit. Squint a little and the headlight treatment on her Group N 1956 Austin A30 could almost have been from Gandini’s Lamborghini Miura.
Which just goes to show the spirit of this event. Australia’s Victorian Historic Racing Register never fails to entice competitive racers and cars from around the world to join those from all over the country, at a meeting that has both an international and local flavor. And some of the best views you’re likely to see at a race meeting anywhere in the world.
With thanks to Steve Boyle, Philip Lewis and Keith Martin.
More photos below!