WHEN CAR BUG BITES
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.