Cars, cars, cars - Mansfield the motoring Mecca
BARELY had the waft of super octane fuel and sounds of high powered motors from Targa subsided, when Mansfield was again inundated with high performance cars.
This time it was the historical gold anniversary run of the once iconic Southern Cross Rally, which stayed in Mansfield last Tuesday night.
Around 30 vehicles arrived from Albury on the Tuesday afternoon and stayed overnight on the second leg of their 12 day rally from Albury to Coffs Harbour.
One of Australian rallying’s most famous events, the Southern Cross Rally was run from 1966 to 1980.
It was Australia’s first truly international rally, attracting top factory teams and the world’s best rally drivers, and over its 15-year history, the classic rally attracted the world’s top factory teams and drivers.
2016 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first Southern Cross Rally held in 1966.
Departing Mansfield on Wednesday, the drivers headed for Sale in Gippsland via Jamieson and Eildon, then to Canberra and Sydney.
From there they motored up to Port Macquarie and finish in Coffs Harbour this Saturday, November 19, coinciding with the running of Rally Australia, the final round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship.
This is a total of 3000km for the field, with 40 timed competitive stages along the way.
One participant i s Steve Marrow, who drives a works car replica, the rarest vehicle in the rally, a Mitsubishi GTO Galant.
“The GTO was never released in Australia, and there are less than 10 in the country,” Mr Marrow said.
“It has had an extreme rebuild which I finished three months ago, using original parts sourced from all over the world.”
He went on to explain the GTO Galant two-door was a Mitsubishi Works car originally built for six time Southern Cross Rally winner, Scotsman Andrew Cowan.
However, due to stability issues with no built-in roll-bar, the driver raced and won with the four-door model.
Mr Marrow, who has competed in many rallys (but not the original Southern Cross), is a living, driving example of some wonderful history attached to many of the vehicles competing.
Someone who did compete, and won, the very last competitive rally in 1980, Ross Dunkerton, is retracing his steps in this 50th anniversary run.
Back in 1980 he piloted his Datsun Stanza to victory with navigator Jeff Beaumont, and was back in a Datsun, this time with his wife.
“Things have changed a bit since then (1980), as far as cars, and also the rules and regulations with rally driving on open roads,” Mr Dunkerton said.
“But it’s great to be back to re-live the memories.”
For car enthusiasts, it’s certainly been a busy time in Mansfield over the past two weeks.
HISTORY ON WHEELS: Rally driver Steve Marrow with his rebuilt Mitsubishi works replica of the GTO Galant, of which there are fewer than 10 in Australia.
RETRACING STEPS: Ross Dunkerton won the very last Southern Cross Rally in 1980, and was back reliving some memories in the 50th anniversary commemorative run.
LINED UP: Some of the cars lined up waiting to head out towards Jamieson and Eildon on Wednesday morning, on their way to Sale.