Words: Chris Ralph
Photo: Phil Wisewould
The Victorian State Race Series round at Sandown in July usually attracts a field of around twenty cars. This year, Covid-19 ‘cabin fever’ has electrified interest to more than 50 per cent over that - pent-up demand will not be denied!
‘Conditions of Covid’ might make the meeting seem a bit strange, though, with a potential ban on spectators, extraneous pit crew, drivers’ briefings, scrutineering and general pit camaraderie. But when drivers strap into snug race seats on the dummy grid and listen to the lusty grumble of a classic race motor warming up, all that will be forgotten.
Mustangs at the head of that grid could well include half a dozen Fastbacks – Andrew Clempson, Michael Miceli, D’Arcy Russell, Andrew Lane and Joe Calleja – with former Club Champ, WA’s Darryl Hansen, possibly there in his brand new Fastback, now being built at record speed by Craig Smith of Vintage Racing Services in Wagga.
If the new car isn’t ready, Darryl will bring his trusty championship-winning ’68 to form a trio with Chris Stern in his new ex-Andrew Whiteside ’68 and the car he sold to the rapid Dominic Leo, son of the excitable, spectacular Tino. That will be an interesting match-up…
Marshalling the General’s forces will be Tino’s lifelong battle buddy, the legendary and extremely wily John Mann in the Camaro, with Danny Myers, Richard Fairlam and John Alessi as Monaro wingmen. The lone Charger of Glenn Miles adds Mopar muscle.
No fewer than three wailing rotaries, led by ex-NSW Victorian (and veteran of 50+ years of motor racing) Wayne Rogerson, and including the father and son team of Jim and Peter McNiven, have shown keen interest, too.
David Brown in the giant-killing Datsun 1600 has put his hand up and, if it’s wet (Sandown in July? Never!), he’ll be nudging the top ten, without a doubt. Jerry Lenstra wants to come down from Sydney in the BDA Escort. With the BMWs of Rob van Stokrom and Justin Brown, the Under 2-Litre battle will be worth a watch.
Also in the mix will be Allan Brown’s Torana and the 289 Fords of Peter Meuleman, Paul Dobson and John Clarke. A quartet of Cortinas - Don Knight, Fast Johnny Luxmoore, Simon Browning and Rod Evans - will take on the Phil Barrow FJ as well as Ben Dahlstrom’s S-Series Valiant and Ian Cuss’s Triumph 2000.
From top to bottom, it’s a great field, but will it come to pass? At time of writing, things are looking hopeful, but to paraphrase legendary F1 commentator Murray Walker: “in motor racing anything could happen - and probably will…”