Our story begins at the Southern Districts Car Club’s Go-Kart night at Kart Mania on Saturday night. After a thrilling and physically tough race, myself (second from left), Damian Reed (third from left), Mark Williams (fourth from left) and Patrick Chan (not pictured because his race result sucked) decided to head back to Patrick’s for a post race beer or two.
As these things do, conversation soon turned to the following day’s dirt motorkhana at Lanac Park, and it turned out that none of us were going as no one had a suitable car. And then at about 10pm, a comment was flippantly made; a casual off the cuff statement that was the cause of some semi-serious laughter.
“What’s the bet that we can’t find a $200 car, buy it, and race it tomorrow? That’s only $50 each…”
Nek minnut, everyone had their phones out and was surfing Gumtree. “I’ve found a Pintara at… oh wait, it’s an auto”. Our criteria was that it must be a manual, it must fit into our budget, it must have at least a day’s rego and it must be available that night.
Shortlisted cars included a Holden Apollo and a luxury spec Volvo 740 (an auto, but the leather and sunroof almost justified it). Damo thought he was onto a winner when he found a manual VH Commodore. It was $500, but Damo was confident he could talk the owner down. We had a good laugh watching the text message conversation with the serial Commodore owner, but unfortunately it had no rego and the guy couldn’t sell it to us until Monday. Damn.
“What’d we buy again?” “Uh… I think we bought the Festiva. Fingers crossed its a two door!”
At just after midnight we all went home on a high, and none of us slept a wink. I’ve never been so excited about a Festiva before.
At 820am Sunday morning, Patrick, Damo and myself met at the owners house at Fairview Park. We immediately spotted the Festiva sitting unloved out the front, excitement building when we discovered that we had, in fact, bought a 2 door!
Only a fool would buy a car without first driving it, so Damo and Patrick took 2festi for a spin, while I stayed and chatted to the owner whilst hoping he couldn’t hear the tyre screeching off in the distance.
But it soon became apparent that we were onto a winner. The engine was strong, the gearbox good, the suspension tight and the handbrake worked unbelievably well. 2festi even came with rego that runs deep into January!
Mark was ready and waiting for us at Lanac Park with a spanner, and launched into putting 2festi on the WRC weight saving diet. The soiled rear seats were ripped out and converted into a pit couch, the spare tire and bonus 2001 UBD were thrown out and we even managed to find $1.10 in loose change. 2festi now owed us just $198.90!
… and by 11.05am we were on track for the first motorkhana test! This was my first proper motorkhana, so it was a huge learning curve. In fact, it was also Mark and Patrick’s first time – Damo was the only one with experience.
This footage is from my second run over the fifth test. By this stage I was starting to get the hang of the handbrake turns – It’s incredibly satisfying when you get it right!
Our main competition came from Graham VanderHoek, who outclassed us all day in his Beetle. Graham has at least two decades of experience over all of us, and his nicely set up Beetle was running rally tires, working well with its natural rear end grip. He was significantly quicker than us.
The real battle was with David and Michelle Green in their Mini. They’re both very experienced and should have been faster than us, but the Mini kept jumping out of first gear which slowed their times down to about our level.
The final test provided the biggest challenge at the end – reversing down the main straight, then flicking the car around 180deg and finishing in the garage. The quickest way was to leave the flick until the last moment, and finish with the nose of the car inside the garage, without knocking down any cones.
Mark was the next challenger, and also didn’t carry enough speed. But it actually worked out okay for him – he rolled backwards up the embankment, which gave him enough momentum coming back down to roll through the garage okay.
I nailed it perfectly first run, except I flicked it about 20m too early and then had to drive forward into the garage, wasting a lot of time. On my second go I did exactly as Damo suggested: “Balls to the wall, flatten it in reverse and flick late”. I did exactly that, and wiped out the garage, killing a few cones in the process. Hmm.
And of course, Damo showed us how it should be done.
Although we left the dash the way it was, covered inch thick in the day’s dust because we kind of liked the beige flocking effect! The original plan was to sell 2festi back on Gumtree to make our money back, but she’s almost too good to sell. What was a rash, impulse purchase has actually turned out to be the perfect tool for the job.
So we ended up having a full day’s worth of fun for little more than the cost of a decent Kart Mania session. I personally learnt more about car control and dirt driving than I have in years, and we still have 2festi to use in events next year.
And a final point – motorsport doesn’t have to be expensive. The entry fee for this motorkhana was just $20! I think this may be the best kept secret yet.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles
1) Graham VanderHoek, Beetle – 213.65
2) Andrew Coles, 2festi – 230.70
3) David Green, Mini – 234.75
4) Damian Reed, 2festi – 237.39
5) Michelle Green, Mini – 245.23
6) Mark Williams, 2festi – 257.33
7) Patrick Chan, 2festi – 261.76
8) Nick Marchesan, JDP Applause – 267.75
9) Sharna Jaffer, JDP Colt – 341.73