WHEN CAR BUG BITES

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Bill Buys

FOR a baker, Dick Ver­meulen cer­tainly builds a mean race car.

One of the Sunshine Coast per­son­al­ity’s many cre­ations, a strik­ing cream 1938 Dodge, showed its pace at the re­cent Targa Tas­ma­nia, where it gen­er­ated a lot of in­ter­est - and won its class.

Sec­ond was a 1936 De Soto with very sim­i­lar lines be­cause it was largely copied from the Dodge.

“I’ve built about 20 pre-war his­toric race cars,” Dick, now a spritely 71-year-old, said.

“Most were Ford V8s, but there were also some Dodges, Chryslers and a Hud­son.

“I found some ly­ing aban­doned on farms, but the DodgeSpeed­ster driven by Wayne Clark in Targa was one I cre­ated in 2008 from a chassis I had ly­ing around on my prop­erty.

“The De Soto Spe­cial was based on an­other Dodge Spe­cial I built for a mate in 2004. His son liked it and built the De Soto on sim­i­lar lines. He later sold to its cur­rent owner, Gra­ham Copeland.”

Dutch-born Dick ar­rived in Aus­tralia when he was five. He trained as a baker in adult­hood, then got bit­ten by the his­toric rac­ing bug.

“That’s when I re­alised I had bet­ter things to do,” he said.

“So I be­came a jack of all trades. I bought an oxy set and got go­ing with what my heart said.

“His­toric rac­ing started in Queens­land in 1978. I loved it and im­me­di­ately be­came in­volved.”

The Dodge was re­born as a vin­tage sports car eight years ago and Dick was pleas­antly sur­prised to see it be­ing put to good use in Targa.

He had gone to Tas­ma­nia on va­ca­tion, didn’t re­alise his hol­i­day co­in­cided with the great rally, and caught up with the two cars at the Ge­orge­town spe­cial stage.

“He’s a lovely guy,” Wayne Clark said.

“He was re­ally pleased his car was be­ing used for what it was de­signed for.”

Clark and co-driver Trevor Ber­ri­man, both in the min­ing in­dus­try in Pa­pua New Guinea, had driven the Targa sev­eral times be­fore.

“The Dodge is a great car,” Clark said.

Clark and Ber­ri­man won the Vin­tage class, and just a minute and a half be­hind them came Gra­ham Copeland and Josh Her­bert, in the De Soto Spe­cial.

And what of the cam­era-shy Dick Ver­meulen?

“I am no longer build­ing race cars,” he said.

Clark does some se­ri­ous cor­ner­ing in his Dodge Speed­ster.

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