A CAPACITY field of around 220 cars will headline a bumper 26th edition of the Historic Leyburn Sprints on Queensland’s Southern Downs on 20-21 August.
The starters include everything from three 1920s Austins to modern-day classics such as AMG Mercedes-Benz and an extraordinary variety in between.
Fittingly, as the round-the-houses time trials commemorate the 1949 Australian Grand Prix at Leyburn, the entry list even features a pre-war MG single-seater that contested that event.
While there are more than 50 classes for every type of car, the main focus will be on the contest for fastest outright time, which is always close.
Six-time winner Dean Amos returns for the first time since 2019 in his British-built Gould GR55B, a specialised hillclimb weapon powered by a Nicholson-Judd V8. Covid-1 kept Amos away in 2021, when Craig Hutchinson in a self-built rotary-powered special clinched his fourth title.
Amos’s benchmark for the 1.0 km street course is 39.79 sec. but he will be out to lower the time as Hutchinson and a squad of other fast singleseaters vie for the trophy.
While the Sprints are the main drawcard, Historic Leyburn is renowned for plenty of other attractions that see up to 15,000 people come through the gates every year.
There’s a Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine, a vintage caravan display, hot laps for raffle winners, market stalls, competitors’ welcome barbecue and a charity auction. Two cars that raced each other for the Australian Land Speed Record in 1916, a 1916 Studebaker and 1912 Willys, will be a feature display and do demonstration laps.
Facing the competitors marshalling area, the 1863-licensed Royal Hotel is naturally the social hub of the Sprints throughout the weekend and provides evening food and entertainment for the thousands of campers.
Leyburn was settled in the 1850s and soon afterwards the discovery of gold in the region put it on the map. It became a staging post for Cobbs & Co. coaches heading into Queensland’s south-western border region. A building from that time now fronts the Sprints track.
After the gold rush, quiet reigned for around 80 years until a World War 2 airbase was established outside the town – and inevitably after the war the runways became a motor-racing circuit.
John Crouch won the AGP on 18 September 1949, driving a Delahaye over 35 laps of a 6.9 km triangular course. Around 30,000 spectators were reported to have attended the event, a remarkable number considering Leyburn is in a lightly-populated rural area around 200 kms west of Brisbane.
The grand prix spirit lives on in the Sprints, founded in 1996 by local residents including racer Mike Collins, who died earlier this year after 25 years as Race Director.
Queensland Motor Sport Event of the Year in 2017, the Historic Leyburn Sprints is a unique combination of quality grassroots motorsport and a welcoming country atmosphere that keeps competitors and spectators returning year after year.
Adult day tickets are $25 or $35 for the weekend and children under 14 are free.
More information is available at www.historicleyburnsprints.com.au, which will carry results and live video streaming throughout the weekend.