A Quick History
The latest word on the Historic motor racing scene
The 2014 Phillip Island Classic saw R32 GTR pace prevail in the Heritage Touring Cars. Terry Lawlor stamped his new GIO Godzilla’s authority by winning all four races, however it was far from a cakewalk with Lawlor frequently overtaken and having to claw his way back. He missed out on the coveted fastest lap time, that honour going to ‘Hari Carey’ McMahon’s HR31 Nissan. Bryan Sala had his Sierra RS500 wound up and he kept the Gibson Motorsport Nissans honest. Craig Markland acquitted himself well in Lawlor’s old ex-Bond RS500, always nipping at the heels of the Group A frontrunners, which included the likes of Jim Richards (1990 ATCC-winning HR31).
In Group C, the much anticipated VH Commodore showdown between Ed Singleton in his candy- striped STP car and Milton Seferis in his ex-Janson Cadbury Schweppes car was a fizzer. Singleton’s car succumbed to mechanical maladies and it was left to Adam Workman’s Bluebird to take it to the hard-charging Serefis. The pair shared the wins.
Unfortunately, the VHRR, who usually do an exemplary job with the event, took it upon itself to hinder the efforts of the Heritage Touring Cars-appointed driving standards officer, Peter Doulman. This likely contributed to driving which was scrappier than usual. Many of the midpack Group C and A cars went home with bent panels, with seemingly none of the more over exuberant drivers being asked to calm down by the VHRR, as has become the standard set by the Doulman.
The much-hyped five-litre touring car demonstrations for early V8 Supercars were also hobbled by questionable decisions, with the fast cars only allowed to pass on the main straight. This frustrated the drivers, who were mostly very competent racers and keen to put on a show. It also led to confusion from spectators, many of whom voiced opinions that these cars are not ‘historic’ yet. Other PIC attendees questioned why other genuinely historic classes were not allowed the track time. Conversely, many in attendance enjoyed the added variety to pitlane, including John Bowe. JB chuckled with ironic delight at seeing his old CAT-sponsored AU Falcon enter the pits early with mechanical issues, while feeling the current owner’s pain.
With Group Sc dropped for 2014 it was up to Group Sb to wave the flag for the production sports car, something they did with gusto. Don Thallon’s C2 Corvette Roadster was the star car, using his booming 327 to his advantage, with only Chad Parrish’s genuine 1965 GT350 Shelby taking it to him in race three. The Corvette certainly had the grunt over the 289, but Parrish would make up ground through Phillip Island’s flowing curves.
Another controversial decision that marred a star class was the disqualification of Tom Tweedie and John Bowe from the Groups Q, R and F5000 combined class. They were warned for tripping the track’s noise sensors and, of course, some locals felt the need to complain, as you do when you buy cheap land near a racetrack. This forced the VHRR’s Michael Holloway to make the decision he did not want to make. Both teams, who were running first and second by a significant margin were very disappointed, especially after efforts were made to muffle the F5000 and the F1 March’s exquisite DFV, but it was all to no avail. The F1 March’s owner, Joe Calleja, took it all well and promptly set a personal fastest time in his booming ex-Peter Brock C2 Corvette.
Trucking magnate and Phillip Island circuit owner Lindsay Fox was seen strolling around the pits chatting to random drivers and spectators, asking pointed questions about how the event could be made even better. The magnificent circuit has prospered under his ownership, so you could assume his financial clout, combined with the VHRR’s established system and contact base, could make for a world class event. We would like to see Lindsay using his FOX trucks to freight in Australia’s best cars as a starter and the VHRR’s international budget, which is quite large, being limited to genuine, significant cars only. The 1970s Le Mans’ Matras and Can-Am machines that attended last year’s PIC are a good example of cars with wide appeal and drawing power. More please.