Gentlemen, start your engines!
With the driving participant’s adrenaline levels back to base-line following the Teakle Auto Sprint, an opportunity to race on the newly completed multi million dollar international racing circuit named “The Bend”, at Tailem Bend South east of Adelaide, could not be passed up.
Four drivers Brian Luckraft, Hagen Zerk, Pete Williams and Tony Rodda along with their families trailered their classic cars to Tailem Bend. Support crews of Stewart Woods, Tony Thorpe, Ross Allen, Hilton Trigg, Kym Anderson, and Debbie & Neville Will also motored to the event.
Rino Zollo, owning an Audi TTRS, also decided to test his driving skill and his car performance levels on the track. He opted to drive his car to the event and was lucky enough to be able to drive his vehicle home again following a very satisfactory day of driving and car performance. Rino driving well within his limits but improving his race lap times on each race circuit he completed, had a successful day and may have been bitten by the car-racing bug also!
Tony Rodda and Hagen Zerk entered their vehicles in the “Race and Rally Class”, with Brian Luckraft and Pete Williams entering the “Road Registered Class”. They were keen to test their cars capabilities on the circuit’s 1 kilometre main straight as well as the track’s sweeping curves and tight corners.
They were not disappointed as the track proved to be very challenging on both drivers and car.
All drivers capabilities were tested but not shamed as they held their places against much more modern day cars such as Porches, Ferrari, and BMW’s just to name a few. After two rounds total of 10 laps on the shorter track of 4.7klm per lap the distance was starting to take its toll on the older cars.
Brian Luckraft’s 1973 XA GT Falcons front brakes were destroyed. Stopping an automatic car going at a speed of 215 ks per hour at the end of the one kilometer straight can unsettle the nerves when the brakes are working, so it was an easy decision to retire once the brakes failed one too many times!
Hagen Zerk was driving his usual best and his XA GT Falcon Coupe being a stand out with his competitors had to retire after the first round when a camshaft roller lifter failed.
Tony Rodda drove very well in his XU1 Torana and had an excellent maintenance free day. His Torana negotiated the tight corners and sweeping curves with consistent speed. Tony and Pete manage to complete the days racing doing a further 8 laps of the 7.7 kilometre circuit of the long track.
Pete Williams’s car a 1985 Holden Commodore (an Allan Grice replica) was a hit with the Holden fans. Driving well and with consistent improving lap times, Pete was concerned on whether his brakes were going to last the distance. They didn’t!
On the last lap of the last session Pete’s brakes failed completely. He had a spectacular off the track excursion into the gravel, narrowly missing the concrete wall. He did manage to drive it out of the gravel and bring it around the last bend to take the chequered flag using his handbrake when returning to the pits.
All four drivers are pleased they had the experience on driving at The Bend and all favoured the shorter track.
The GT Sprint was one of the first events held on “The Bend” racing circuit. With 140 nominations within only 2 categories, it allowed everyday drivers and car enthusiast to race in controlled conditions on a first class track with world class facilities. What an experience!
Thank you Annette Luckraft for providing the words, and Ross Allen for the pictures.