Fighting Time With Classic Cars In Australia
Story by Zoltan Vandulek // Photos by AUTO ART Photography, courtesy of Australia Classic
All classic car stories seem begin with a childhood crush. Mine was a third generation Corvette spotted in some TV show, in contrast to the depressing Eastern European reality on the streets where I grew up: Russian Ladas and Romanian Dacias. Freedom kicked in around the early ’90s, and by 2000 I was living the dream with a 1978 Collector’s Edition ‘Vette.
Soon after that, the very first “1/100 regularity rally” was hosted in Hungary, later turning into the annual series of the Oldtimer Supercup.
I was besotted with the concept! Taking part in the highest-quality animated tour with five star venues and catering, among a fleet of unique classic cars, great people, secret routes deciphered from a roadbook, and testing your skill at the “1/100 challenges”: it was just like nothing I could have imagined.
Years have gone past; I’ve been through several rallies before I finally moved to Australia in 2006. Naturally, the first question I had was: where do you go to participate in the Australian version? It turned out that the precision rally (as I call it here, for the sake of simplicity) was not yet imported to this continent.
I spent the next few years complaining about this inconvenience before deciding something should be done: if others haven’t had enough faith in the concept, I would have to be the host myself.
Reaching out to my contacts on the old continent, I’ve engaged Andras Noszvai, the main organiser of the Hungarian Oldtimer Supercup, as well as the international gold standard in sports timing, Chronomoto, and we hosted the first Australia Classic rally in tropical Cairns in 2012.
Despite a number of challenges, the first Australia Classic rally was an overwhelming success, with considerable international interest and feedback. Now, jumping to 2015, when Australia Classic had reached full capacity of 60 cars and support from the local business community, as well as from local government – we are ready to grow the event from an annual rally to a series of 6 races every year!
The spread in 2015 was simply unbelievable: half of the entrants came from within a circle of 100 kms, with the rest arriving from all over Australia – some of the cars having had to drive 3,000 kms just to get here for the start. Australia Classic has also just had its most diverse year in terms of contestants: rare gems like a Peerless GT or a Morgan Aero 8 went against the niche of domestic legends such as a Holden Torana A9X SS, four of my childhood sweetheart C3 Corvettes, plus Mustangs, Cobras, MGs, Fiat 500, a VW Beetle—it’s just a never-ending line-up of classics!
Tropical Queensland’s legendary weather has let us down for the first time earlier this year; fog on the Tablelands was as if we were back in Europe, and the on-and-off rain all throughout the day has made it a bit uncomfortable for cars without a side window, or even a roof…or even a windshield, like the Jaguar C-Type replica.
Despite the weather, the end of the rally saw all competitors cross the finish gate on Sunday night with a grin ear to ear, attesting to the demand this kind of gentlemen’s racing attracts on every continent.
Car #43, a 1972 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, won Australia Classic 2015 Cairns. Driven by Tim Trad and Lee Goldring, the won by a slimmer margin than previous years’ winners. It goes to show that experienced participants are getting more skilled at competing in Australia’s signature precision rally series.
I’m just happy that I was able share my love of these events on a new continent!