Mount Alma Mile Hillclimb 2014

MtAlma2014 1276Kevin Mackrell has thundered his way to another consecutive 4WD outright victory in the Mount Alma Mile hillclimb, held recently at Inman Valley on the scenic Fleurieu Peninsula. Behind the wheel of his all-conquering V8 powered Datsun 260Z, Mackrell held a firm grip on the two-day event, overcoming a five second penalty to take the win.

MtAlma2014 1277The 2WD category was won by Clinton Faustmann in the REVS/Faustune prepared FD RX7, who wrangled the flame spitting rotor up the hill slightly quicker than Jason Unkovich, who claimed third outright 2WD in the same car.

MtAlma2014 1320The big battle all weekend was between Mackrell and the Supaloc Racing Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera of Kevin Weeks, now sporting a fresh twin turbo setup. Weeks was still a fraction off Mackrell’s times, but the noise of the forced induction Italian V10 outclassed the 260Z in every way. It was spine tingling and worth coming just to listen to it alone. Continue reading

Ben Simpson Memorial Cruise 2014

BSMC 957Well over 600 enthusiast cars gathered recently on a hot Saturday night in early February for the Ben Simpson Memorial Cruise; an interclub, everything welcome, drive through Adelaide and the hills to raise awareness and funds for a variety of mental health issues.

BSMC 947Initially organised by the late Ben’s parents as a small memorial event for their son who tragically took his own life, the BSMC has quickly become one of the biggest events on the Adelaide calendar. Whilst it’s the cars we come for, the cruise has a sub-plot and serves to not only raise funds but to spread knowledge of mental health issues within the automotive community; a group of people that would sooner give away their cars than discuss their mental health.

BSMC 1018But it is the cars that we come for, and most certainly the cars are what takes centre stage. The cruise met at the Tea Tree Plaza carpark, and managed to completely fill a fair proportion of it. Think how busy the carpark is at the height of the pre Christmas rush, and that’s a fair indication of how full the BSMC was.

BSMC 1016However rather than traffic jams of family trucksters and people negotiating tiny gaps with overflowing trolleys, there were lines of immaculately modified cars and people with cameras far outnumbered people with shopping bags. Continue reading

Retrogarage Track Day Mallala

DSC_0057Fierce competition is good, and from motorkhana to Australian GT it’s often the tick of the stopwatch and the heat of the moment that provides that last bit of drive and incentive to shave every last tenth. Strong competition breeds the best and whilst there’s a definite joy in competing to your limit, it’s often far from relaxing.

DSC_0612That’s where a bloke named Roger Dutton – barbeque extraordinaire and mechanic for Adelaide based Formula 3 and Carrera Cup outfit Team BRM – comes in. Roger is involved in motorsport at a far higher level than most, but also knows the value in relaxing and enjoying it from time to time, and has pretty much built his own personal Mk1 Escort around this ethos. Through his sideline business Retrogarage, Roger has started organising track days at Mallala where the focus is very much on enjoyment.

DSC_0030Any Given Reason was invited to join the fun by longtime reader Tom Gilbert, so with instructions to meet up with the gang at the BP on Portrush at 630 on a Wednesday morning, I threaded my way through the dawn of peak hour traffic, knowing something far more interesting than a desk would be waiting for me at the other end. These suspicions were confirmed when an immaculate 356B and a throaty 964 Carrera 2 pulled onto the forecourt as if on cue.  Continue reading

Aeroplanes and rally cars – the hanger shoot

On the eve of the Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally we found ourselves not madly preparing cars for the following day’s racing, but taking photos of them in a rather brilliant location.

Pilatus are a Swiss manufacturer of aeroplanes – you might never have heard of their most popular executive plane, the PC-12, but you’ve almost definitely seen their product in action – Pilatus supply the RAAF Roulette’s and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Pilatus’ Australian arm, based at Adelaide Airport, have recently began to increase their involvement in motorsports by sponsoring the Mt Alma Mile Hillclimb and a couple of rally cars.

With everyone in town for the Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally anyway, the guys thought it would be a good idea to park a couple of rally cars in front of a couple of planes in the Pilatus hanger at Adelaide Airport and film a short promotional video about what motorsport means to Pilatus. With the lighting set up anyway by the film crew and a healthy disregard for the sleep I really should have been getting, I decided to stick around and shoot a few frames. Because really, when is this likely to happen again? Continue reading

2012 Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally

The father and son team of Matthew and Dennis Sims have stormed to outright victory in the recent Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally, Round 2 of the CAMS Australian Tarmac Championship, held from 18-20th May in the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula area.

Matt Selley and Hamish McKendrick fought hard in Selley’s new Evo and finished a credible 2nd outright. Despite a potentially worrying electrical issue that had them sidelined on the transport for a short time after Friday’s last stage, the Evo displayed serious speed but never realistically challenged the Sims’ R35. However it was a fast, consistent drive from Selley and McKendrick – they finished 2nd outright in 16 of the 22 stages, even winning two of them.

Just 47 seconds behind Selley, and claiming the final podium position, was the pair of Andrew Booker and Chris Edmondson in their Nissan 180SX. The boys punted it hard all weekend and it was quite a sight to see. From the outside it looks just like any 180 you see around the streets, but lurking beneath is a comprehensively prepared and setup tarmac rally car.

The quickly-becoming-famous Jones Brothers claimed first place in the Classic Outright category. It’s really quite an incredible story – brother’s Peter and Bryan Jones built the Torana from scratch themselves, even down to making a makeshift spray booth in their carport so they could paint it. The car looks immaculate, it sounds like a V8 should and has plenty of pace to back it all up. What more could you want? Continue reading

2012 Willall Pilatus Mt Alma Mile Hillclimb

The 2012 Willall Pilatus Mt Alma Mile hillclimb was held on March 31 and April 1. Run by the Southern Districts Car Club (the same club who run the excellent Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally) for the past few years, Mt Alma really has redefined the hillclimb experience here in Adelaide.

The only other hillclimb within easy driving distance of Adelaide is Collingrove, which is really a whole different type of course. Not only is it far smaller and more technical, it’s more of a ‘picnic lunch’ type of venue – very much geared toward driving your MG and then enjoying a picnic from your wicker basket in the shade whilst watching the classic cars race up the hill. Don’t get me wrong, that’s fantastic and I really enjoy Collingrove, but Mt Alma is a completely different scene.

Mt Alma is about high tech, high horsepower cars. And it’s more geared toward proper competition as opposed to just having fun. Mt Alma uses a unique scoring system whereby the winner of the event is not the driver with the fastest time, but the driver with the fastest accumulated time over the two days worth of runs. The final results are determined by a shootout – at 3pm on Sunday the top 12 leading cars each have a shootout run. From this, 6 are discarded and the other 6 fastest cars run again. The three fastest cars from this shootout make up the podium, and then they run again. The fastest driver from the final top 3 shootout is then the winner. Continue reading

Historic Group A & C at the Australian Grand Prix

For my last post from the Australian Grand Prix, I’ll take a look at the historic Group A & C class. It’s worth noting that to participate in this class, the car has to have actual log booked race history. Even though they were racing door-to-door, all of these cars are the real deal and most of them have genuine Bathurst history. There are no replicas here.

In my opinion, these cars are straight from the glory days of Australian touring car racing – the mid to late 1980’s. In the era immediately before the introduction of the V8 Supercar category, the best way to win at Bathurst was to get the fastest car possible from Europe, hire the best gun drivers possible and go for it. It also helped that the Bathurst 1000 was a round of the World Touring Car Championship, so the best teams and drivers from Europe made their way to our humble shores each year. The cars and drivers we dream about today were actually here and racing on Aussie soil. I was born in 1988, so I’m a little bummed that I missed witnessing this era in person. It must have been amazing.

We’re actually very lucky that a lot of these historically important cars are still here. The last three rounds of the WTCC were Bathurst, Calder and Wellington (NZ), so at the end of the year it made financial sense for the teams to sell the cars here, rather than go to the expense of transporting them back to Europe for sale.

There was a huge field at the AGP, so I’ve picked out a few of the cars that I think will be of particular interest.  Continue reading

Clipsal 500 2012 – The V8 Supercars

As much as some of us would like to think otherwise, the main drawcard of the Clipsal 500 is obviously the V8 Supercars. And in a lot of respects we’re quite privileged here in Adelaide – we have the first race of the season which is arguably the biggest of the whole year and we have a city that completely embraces the race that runs through it’s CBD streets. I’ll avoid giving a blow-by-blow account of the V8 races and results at the Clipsal (this can be found anywhere really and it’s interest is arguable), but will rather just give a quick overview of a few of the things I noticed around the pits.

All of the V8’s were carrying specific Clipsal 500 branding on the front doors for the first time. I wonder if they’ll take a page from the rally world’s book and have a different door sticker for each event?

While we’re looking at Triple Eight Race Engineering Commodore, I found the paint scheme to be quite amazing. Here and from most angles it just looks like Vodofone’s signature dayglo orange…

… but get it in the sunlight and it’s actually a pearl metallic paint. And it is actually paint too – almost all of the cars in the field have a full digitally printed vinyl wrap these days. Continue reading

Top Gear Live – The Supercars

The best part of Top Gear Live was what they called ‘The Stig’s Garage’, a segment where they just parked a whole lot of desirable cars in a line and walked around talking about them for a while. It was the usual assortment of high end exotica, but there were two standouts….

Continue reading