2013 MSCA Sprint Round 1 and why I like driving slow cars fast

DSC_0137The first track day of the year is always an exciting affair. New cars, new modifications or just simply a chance to blow the cobwebs out, the heart always skips a beat as you drive through the entry gates for the first time.

DSC_0185First there’s the nervous wait for scrutineering, and then the ugly pause before the first session begins. It’s been four or five months since some of these cars have had a decent scoot, and the mind wanders to all of the little things that need re-checking. Everybody just wants to get on with it!

DSC_0177Drivers briefing has never been a more painful affair. ‘C’mon, just let me on the track already!’.

DSC_0070It was the first time out for Garren in his new NB MX-5.

DSC_0010Garren is usually found behind the wheel of a Fiat, and was a longtime competitor for many years in his quick 124 BC. Life and family and kids etc got in the way and he was forced to give it up for a while, and this was his first event back in over 7 years. You couldn’t wipe the smile off his face! Continue reading

Supersprint Round 4 & Porsche club motorkhana

Perfect weather and perfect track conditions accurately sum up Round 4 of the MSCA Supersprint series. Instead of going through each individual performance, I’ll focus on a few of the highlights of the day as well as taking a quick look at the Porsche club motorkhana which was simultaneously taking place on the skidpad.

Guy Standen had the 124 out in its final shakedown before our Targa Adelaide campaign next week. Apart from a minor gearbox issue which has since been rectified, the 124 performed faultlessly and is ready for 4 days of tarmac rally action.

This Evo 10 won the award for biggest spoiler and ended up setting a high 1.16. It probably should have been at WTAC in Sydney though, which was happening on the same weekend. Continue reading

MSCA Round 2 Supersprint

Sunday just gone was Round 2 of the MSCA Supersprint series. The usual suspects were in attendance, doing what they love to do, with the addition of a few new ones.

I’m just going to start right out with one of the most beautiful cars there, Joe Grilli’s GTA inspired Alfa Guila Sprint GT.

The detailing on this car is just superb, everything has been thought out and the aesthetic and practical implications of every decision have been carefully considered. There’s absolutely nothing on this car that I would do differently.  Continue reading

2012 Fiat Nationals

The annual Fiat Nationals took place at Benalla, Victoria, this past weekend (20-21 January). In what has become an annual pilgrimage for us, we made the 900km trek over in our 1987 Alfa Romeo Sprint and 1979 Fiat X1/9. Yes, that is correct. Every year we drive old Italian cars halfway across the country in the middle of an Aussie summer. Crazy.

See here for motorkhana photos.

See here for Show & Shine and Supersprint photos.

The event has been run as a motorkhana and next year will be celebrating it’s 50th running. Historically run around places like Dubbo and Wagga Wagga, 7 years ago the event moved to Bathurst and enjoyed the addition of a speed event for the first time – a hillclimb up the famous Bathurst race track. This was when I started attending and I ended up competing at the Bathurst hillclimb three times. The event then moved to Goulburn and featured a supersprint around the Wakefield Park circuit. Attending both of these locations from Adelaide involved crossing the Hay Plains (not a great deal of fun in summer), so it was with great happiness when I read that the event would be moving to Benalla, Victoria, for 2012. The event would also include a supersprint around the Winton circuit.

So that’s how I found myself behind the wheel of the Alfa last Friday, chasing one of the most amazing dawn sunrises I’ve seen into the distance. It was forecasted to be a hot day and the early morning air was refreshingly balmy as it kissed and caressed the skin. Lights on, windows down, we sped through the darkness with the knowledge that things were going to get quite a bit warmer as soon as that sun rose. Continue reading

Passenger ride – Joe’s immaculate Alfa 105

Joe Cardone’s Alfa 105 embodies everything I like in a classic fast road/track car. It’s not ridiculously modified and the character of the original car hasn’t been lost. Through careful thought and tasteful modification the soul of this Italian classic is stronger than ever.

I think there’s a rare romance that comes with classic track cars that are still streetable. I’m not talking about lightly modified road cars or modern racers here of which we see many, but genuine vintage race prepared cars that can still be driven on the road. In my opinion there’s nothing cooler than racing all day, getting changed and then driving the race car, with your partner, down for dinner. Joe uses his 105 for supersprints and it isn’t road registered, but the thing I love is that with almost no work it could be a very competitive historic racer, and could still be road registered if so desired. The thought of tearing around a track like Phillip Island at 200km/h in this 105 all day, then listening to the roar of the big Weber carbies as you head in to that famous organic pizza place at Cowes for dinner, the sun setting behind you, is enough to send a shiver of excitement down my spine. Okay, I know I have issues.

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MSCA Round 5 Supersprint 2011

I had a pretty busy day the other weekend at the MSCA Supersprint. It was billed as a bit of a test and tune day, a time to try out new things. I took my stock 1990 MX5 out to see what it would do, which turned out to be just three hot laps before it began to overheat. I wasn’t too stressed though, I guess you can’t expect too much from a 265,000km used car. My best time in it was a 1.38, but I think there’s definitely another few seconds in it with more than just a handful of laps. However the modifying bug has truly bitten, and every spare moment now is occupied looking at suspension parts, roll bars, wheels and induction kits for it. So much for a daily that I promised would stay standard. Hmm.

I then jumped in our Alfa (above) and did a round of 5 laps in that. The old Alfa never misses a beat, and I managed to slide down to a 1.28.78. I know this car is capable of at least a second faster (I’ve done a 1.27.7 in it) so it was a little frustrating to be stuck in 28’s. But then again, it was a full 10 seconds quicker than the Mazda so I guess it’s not all bad.

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Track time – Tarmac rally 1974 Fiat 124 Coupe CC

The problem with most old Fiats is that they’re exactly that – old Fiat’s. They began their life as expensive statements of cutting edge Italian design, but in most cases the passage of time has not been kind to their expertly sculpted bodies. Victims of a communist regime, Fiat were forced to purchase and build their fine vehicles of junk Eastern European steel which often began rusting within months of manufacture. Combined with a frankly terrible dealer network and rapidly plunging resale values, the reputation of the Fiat marque never really stood much of a chance in a marketplace where consumers demanded more.

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