All Historic Amaroo Park – 25 January, 1976 The day our world changed
That one-day race meeting for motorcycles and cars forty years ago was the beginning of the Historic Racing phenomenon that we take for granted today. Every road race circuit in Australia now holds regular, Historic only, race meetings for bikes or cars and occasionally combined, as was the original Amaroo Park event. For years, old bikes would get one race in the annual Easter Mt Panorama modern meeting and Barry Ryan sponsored an annual race at Oran Park, a few club days mixed in with modern bikes and that was about it, if you had an Historic race bike. Historic cars faced a similar dilemma, one race per year at each circuit as a feature race in a program of modern racing. But in 1973 Warwick Farm closed down and Oran Park did not have an historic car race that year. The Australian Racing Drivers Club was not interested in providing race time at Mt Panorama or Amaroo Park in their modern events. A chance meeting between Rob Rowe and Jack Rasmussen revealed that this problem was being faced by historic race bikes and historic race cars – neither could get a chance to race in events of similar machines. Separately the bikes or the cars did not have enough machines to put on a stand-alone event, but combined there just might be enough! A committee was formed! Rob Rowe and John Cummins went to the ACU to get riders’ names and addresses, while John Medley resurrected the Historic Racing Register Newsletter to contact the car blokes. John Cummins chose the date, the Australia Day long weekend – “We could race on the Sunday – interstaters could travel on the Saturday and home again on the Monday”. The circuit was booked; we told the ARDC it was just a club event. The ACU and CAMS did not want to know! There is no insurance to cover bikes and cars at the same meeting! The flag signals are different! There will have to be two sets of officials! Safety padding will have to be put over the Armco fencing and removed before the cars go out! Cars drop oil! Bikes are too noisy! The bike blokes won’t get along with the car blokes! It just won’t work!!!
Frank Cuttell said “I will organise a party afterwards!” Peter Jones stood up for the bike blokes and said “we will be there!” Alan Puckett designed the car and bike logo. John Lackey did all the paper work. Eighteen blokes put in $50 each (a lot of money in 1976) and hoped it would be a success and get their money back. Peter Hitchin contacted all the officials. David Medley counted the money. The Vintage Sports Car Club would get the necessary permits in their club’s name! There was going to be a race meeting – an ALL Historic Race Meeting! Two practice “race demonstrations’ were conducted on the 25th October 1975, during an AARC Amaroo Park Club race meeting, to make sure that the fence pad crew and other officials could cope with a combined event. For the first All Historic Race Meeting at Amaroo Park on January 25th 1976, sixty four bikes and one hundred and eleven cars entered, every competitor got exactly the same number of laps, one practice and two races. By one pm on that Sunday afternoon people were already talking about NEXT year’s event! All Historic racing had arrived! The 1977 All Historic Amaroo was a two-day meeting with Mike Hailwood racing a Norton and a Lotus. All Historic Winton followed in May 1977 and All Historic Lakeside in 1978. Historic cars and bikes seemed to appear from everywhere. So many machines were returned to racing that soon separate Historic bike and car events became viable. Car competitors resisted many attempts to hold annual Historic Championships; Motorcycling gave in to the pressure and “Formula Historic” evolved.
The 40th anniversary celebration of that first All Historic Amaroo Park Race Meeting will be held at Wakefield Park on the 17th and 18th September 2016. Why September? Well, there are now so many Historic race meetings held around Australia each year, this is about the only available date. In September 2016 events will be held for Period 1, 2 and 3 Solos and Sidecars. Eligible cars will be pre-1961 Racing and Sports cars. Any competitors from the 1976 meeting will be featured in a special parade event. AASA, CAMS and MA licences will be accepted by the Vintage Sports Car Club, who will again organise the event. One event licences will be accepted. Entry fee will be kept as low as possible (hopefully, of the order of $250 per competitor). A bonus may be paid back to competitors if entries exceed 300 bikes and cars. There will be free entry for spectators, but there may be a small charge for spectators to gain access to the pits.
All competitors will have equal track time, consisting of one practice session and three races. Some of the races will be handicaps. A 40th Anniversary Celebration Dinner will be a feature of the weekend.