A Run through Vic­to­ria

AMC mag­a­zine has been a reg­u­lar at­tendee of the orig­i­nal Aussie Mus­cle Car Run, in South Aus­tralia. Here we hitch a ride on the in­au­gu­ral Vic­to­rian event.

Australian Muscle Car - - Res­ur­rected -

If you’re a reg­u­lar reader of this mag­a­zine you will have seen our sto­ries over the last four years on the Leukaemia Foun­da­tion of South Aus­tralia’s fab­u­lous ini­tia­tive – the Aussie Mus­cle Car Run. Four of these an­nual week­long tour­ing fundrais­ers have been held so far in the event’s home state, each start­ing and end­ing in Ade­laide.

The Aussie Mus­cle Car Run con­cept is best de­scribed as Get­away meets a car club run on steroids. This, folks, is no quick dod­dle in the coun­try­side.

The phi­los­o­phy is sim­ple: clas­sic cars from our coun­try’s vast her­itage of home­grown high­per­for­mance stretch­ing their legs while rais­ing much needed funds for the treat­ment and care of pa­tients with blood can­cers. The 2500-3000km long-haul jour­neys en­com­pass mo­tor­sport tests, vis­its to mo­tor­ing at­trac­tions and soak­ing up the scenery.

The SA-based Runs have been such a hit that the con­cept has ex­panded in­ter­state with other branches of the Leukaemia Foun­da­tion now or­gan­is­ing their own ver­sions. The first state to nod their head know­ingly and say, ‘great idea, let’s hold our own’, was Western Aus­tralia, in late 2015, with its Run along the West Coast.

The lat­est was Vic­to­ria – our fo­cus here. Billed as “Tak­ing the Beasts Back Home”, this first Vic­to­rian edi­tion bur­bled some 1929km over seven days on the finest black­top with exclusive in­vites to iconic Aus­tralian mo­tor­ing lo­ca­tions. The Mel­bourne-to-Mel­bourne Run had overnight stays in San Remo, Din­ner Plain in the Vic­to­rian alps, Be­nalla, Bal­larat, Port­land and Gee­long.

Stand­out at­trac­tions in­cluded vis­its to both Holden’s and Ford’s prov­ing grounds – rare chances to see and ex­pe­ri­ence Aus­tralian au­to­mo­tive his­tory where many of the mod­els on the Run were de­vel­oped. Also in­cluded in the itin­er­ary were mo­tor­sport speed events at Win­ton Mo­tor Race­way, Heath­cote drag strip (quar­ter mile) and South Coast Race­way (1/8 mile) in Port­land to let the beasts raise their heart­beats me­chan­i­cally.

Sounds like a dream, right? I was lucky enough to spend a cou­ple of days in the slip­stream of this great ini­tia­tive and joined the Run at the end of Day Two at Din­ner Plain.

By that stage en­trants had blasted off the event’s start­ing grid at Caribbean Gar­dens in Mel­bourne’s south-east and made their first stop at the Lang Lang prov­ing grounds – about half­way between the Vic­to­rian cap­i­tal’s out­skirts and Phillip Is­land. It’s not ev­ery day that Holden opens its gates to al­low car en­thu­si­asts to do a pa­rade lap on the fa­mous oval, but it was a fit­ting re­ward for the Leukaemia Foun­da­tion’s com­mit­ted fundrais­ers.

The field be­gan Day Two from San Remo for the 430km trip via the Maf­fra Car Shed Mu­seum to Din­ner Plain.

Af­ter a suit­ably at­mo­spheric alpine night, Day Three started with the job of scratch­ing ice off the screen be­fore tuck­ing be­hind in con­voy for the quick 100-odd kays over Mt Hotham to Myrtle­ford and morn­ing tea. Do­ing my pre­vi­ous night’s trip in re­verse, I was struck by how dif­fer­ent the road ap­peared in the day­light with­out the fog and side­ways rain that I had ar­rived in! The crisp moun­tain air car­ried the song of dif­fer­ing en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tions as they de­scended the snaking bi­tu­men to the val­ley floor. The var­i­ous en­gine notes bounced between the gums like an au­dio ver­sion of hide and seek, be­fore drift­ing away. This was an at­tack on the senses, with crews all com­ment­ing later of their ex­cite­ment of hav­ing the nat­u­rally stun­ning land­scape and me­chan­i­cal sound­scape col­lide. Next we head to Michellini Wines in Myrtle­ford, then Wodonga via Beech­worth and a show and shine for the gen­eral pub­lic. The sun was shin­ing as the lo­cals wan­dered through our crews’ pride and joy, asked ques­tions and had a gen­eral rem­i­nisce about the per­sonal con­nec­tions of a spe­cific car. But Win­ton awaited and crews got back on the road for the straight­for­ward 108km to the track. Upon ar­rival teams hur­riedly re­moved all con­tents and ex­cess weight be­fore pre­par­ing safety gear, ahead of the de­liv­ery of the oblig­a­tory driver safety brief­ing, track in­for­ma­tion and ses­sion in­struc­tions.

De­spite the brag­ging rights at­tain­able for fastest lap, this was, as with all mo­tor­sport tests, a reg­u­lar­ity chal­lenge for­mat. So con­sis­tency across driver/co-driver lap times was key. Nonethe­less, every­one still wants to be quick­est, al­though that seems more about car pride than ego. Groups of five took to the resur­faced Win­ton lay­out with an out­lap, a cou­ple of fly­ers and a cool down be­fore re-form­ing on the dummy grid for the next blast. Af­ter a cou­ple of ro­ta­tions, the speed in­creased as every­one found their con­fi­dence, got on the loud pedal a bit ear­lier and waded deeper into the brak­ing zones, all the while try­ing to show the kerbs the re­quired amount of re­spect.

Re­sults saw The River Howlers fa­ther and son combo in their XT Fal­con GT awarded reg­u­lar­ity win­ners, with Team Fork and the mighty Mach 1 Mus­tang claim­ing fastest lap hon­ours. It wasn’t all with­out in­ci­dent though, with some mi­nor spins/ grass-cut­ting but thank­fully no panel damage. There were a cou­ple of knock-on ef­fects as cars were driven harder. There was a loss of fifth gear, a blown su­per­charger seal and some rear brake shoes need­ing re­place­ment.

Reach­ing Be­nalla and our ac­com­mo­da­tion in the late af­ter­noon meant our driv­ing was done for the day. Some used this time to rec­tify prob­lems, with a lo­cal work­shop be­ing utilised to re­solve the gear­box is­sue of one team. A short walk to Be­nalla Bowl­ing Club for their Schnitzel and Pot spe­cial was fol­lowed by a trivia quiz.

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