I logged on to the Any Given Reason content management system the other day, and an unexpected little message came up: “Domain registration will expire in 3 days”. Damn, yet another bill at the worst time of the year I mused, as I whipped out the well used Visa in an effort to keep Any Given Reason running for another 12 months.
But then I started looking at it from a slightly different angle – that little message meant that today, December 30 2012, is Any Given Reason’s first birthday. So in true car blog fashion, I think it’s fitting to celebrate this date by taking a little retrospective look back at the year that was 2012.
2012 started in a way that I just knew would be hard to top. Just after new years I went for a quick trip to Melbourne for a concert with my girlfriend. We had a few hours to kill, so I managed to convince her to come with me on a visit to Maranello Motorsport in Richmond. And yup, that’s an F40 GT-E (a further developed version of the F40 LM) and a road F40 in the same showroom.
And yup, that’s a 333SP up the back there. Not pictured: Daytona, 458 Challenge, 360 with Le Mans history and literally countless other Ferrari’s.
The first proper event was our annual interstate trip to the Fiat Nationals, this time to be held at Benalla and the Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria. We convoyed over in the 1978 Fiat X1/9, above, and our 1987 Alfa Romeo Sprint, swapping between the cars the whole way. Our first track day of the year was at Winton in the Alfa, and I found it to be the most magical twisty circuit that’s perfectly suited to our small nimble cars.
It was at the nationals that I fell painfully in love with a car for the first of many times in 2012; it was David Judd’s Fiat Dino Spider that did it.
February brought the first Sporting Car Club twilight race meeting at Mallala; the first of my many visits to the circuit. The air is usually warm and balmy, and spirits are high as everyone is keen to get back into it again – just some of the reasons why I love twilight race meetings.
March in Adelaide means Clipsal 500 – the highlight was easily the demonstrations of Alan Jones’ 1980 World Championship winning Williams FW07B.
The end of March brought a last minute road trip to Melbourne to see the Grand Prix. About a week before the event I got talking to a work colleague about how cool it would be to go. Suddenly we had booked tickets, and as soon as knocked off work on Friday afternoon we packed into my MX5 and hit the road. We arrived at about 230am, got a few hours sleep and then went straight to the track. We only had General Admission tickets so shooting super slow through the fence was the only way to go, but it didn’t matter. The assault on all of your senses that a Formula One car gives is like nothing else and TV does a poor job of replicating it – it simply must be experienced first hand.
April saw the rally community convene at the Beachport jetty in the state’s South-East for a casual morning street party to kick off the 2012 South Australian Rally Championship at Rallye Wattle Range.
And this was the setting for the first stage of the year, a quick tarmac blast through the twisty sand dune road just out of Beachport. It was a spectacular setting; the most pleasant place to hold a rally one could imagine. And if you overshot a corner there were no trees to hit – you’d simply end up on a scenic beach. Perfect.
But the rally was certainly no day at the beach, especially the night stages which were plagued by thick dust and zero breeze to clear the air.
For May, we decided to enter a team in the MSCA’s 6 hour regularity relay at Mallala. Dubbed Team Any Given Reason, our team consisted of Michael Katsikitis in his Alfa Sud, Lee Myllynen in the seriously quick BMW E30, my Dad in his Alfa Sprint, and myself in my MX5. We didn’t do particularly well, but I had huge fun sliding the Mazda around in the wet and for most of the time we pretended we were proper endurance racing at Le Mans, so it was a good day!
For the Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally I was once again co-driving with Sebastian Lip in his R35 GTR as a Zero course car. I feel extremely privileged to have experienced this car in such a thorough way. This E85 tuned monster has well over 700whp from its AMS motor, and its carbon brakes, active aerodynamics and Willall Racing tuned gearbox means it is simply way to fast to experience on the public road. Having done several flat-out laps of Mallala and two days of closed road rallying, I really know what it feels like to properly exercise a car this fast, and that’s an experience that not a lot of people (to be honest, even most owners of these sorts of cars) simply haven’t had. I feel extremely lucky to know what this feels like, and it’s an experience that won’t leave me for a very long time.
The GTR was built as a time attack car, and as such it didn’t quite endure the rigours of tarmac rallying – we hit a bump too fast which fractured an oil feed line to one of the turbos, ending our fun. But no worries – being a course car, we simply swapped our job to that of a slightly slower pace, and jumped in the tow car – a tuned AMG G55. Tarmac rallying a 500hp 2.5tonne SUV is another completely different experience!
The weekend after the Tarmac Rally, I followed Damian Reed, Guy Tyler, Steve Fisher, Michael Busby and the crew up to International Rally of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast. My real reason for going was that it was a round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, and it presented a chance to see international spec S2000 cars. The trip made me broke, but I’m glad I went. I’ve never seen WRC in person and I bet that’s even better, but the sheer speed and commitment of the top S2000 cars took my breath away. Highly recommended.
Camping in the footy club clubrooms, sliding around in the mud, taking photos with numb fingers… it can only mean one thing – the famous Walky 100 rally at Robertstown. These two photos really summarise what I love so much about rallying. By its very nature it forces you to get out into the countryside with your mates, and explore a new part of the world in great detail.
And what an exciting rally it turned out to be. Extremely heavy rain in the days leading up to the event meant that a lot of the roads were very boggy (some stages were cancelled), but other parts had dried nicely. However the competitors didn’t really know what the roads were like until they hit them at speed for the first time, leading to more than a few hairy moments.
Thanks to the extreme generosity of Tom Gilbert and Ryan Crosbie at Adelaide Hills Toyota, Any Given Reason managed to pull off a pretty big coup in that we were actually one of the first publications to publish a drive of the highly anticipated Toyota 86. I must have pestered Tom and Ryan with hundreds of emails continually asking when they would have an 86; and as soon as it arrived, they graciously allowed me to take it away from the dealership for a couple of hours – no small favour with a car as hotly anticipated as this one. And I think it’s every bit as good as the hype – I’m trying to do the sums to work out how I can someday own one myself!
We went to Hawaii for a nice, relaxing holiday – you know, the kind that involves cocktails with umbrella’s and nature hikes more than burning rubber and outright speed. But then the rental car clerk went and ruined it when he accidentally gave us a 400hp 6.0 V8 Camaro SS rental when I half jokingly asked for one. Fuel bill skyrocketed, elevens were donated on occasion and general mischief was had.
From the sunny beaches of Hawaii it was straight back into the cold and rain for Scouts Rally SA the following weekend. The event started with the fantastic, but strangely underrated, street parade through the CBD on Thursday night. Being completely honest; seeing a full field of rally cars cracking, popping and antilagging their way down King William Street at peak hour, surprising and scaring unsuspecting commuters waiting at the bus stop, was almost the coolest thing I saw all year.
Rally SA also saw the debut of Australia’s second G2 spec car in Simon Evan’s Mazda 2. This is such an impressive car. It looks like a factory built car, but in fact it carries no support from Mazda Australia, and was entirely built by Mick Ryan and the team at RallySchool. Let’s hope Mazda gets on board with some financial support for next year.
August saw Any Given Reason’s only competitive rally outing of the year, co-driving with Guy Standen in his 1974 Fiat 124 Coupe in the Targa Adelaide rally. Competing in this event is always a special thing for me. I grew up from a young age watching the Classic Adelaide rally and always dreamed of someday competing in it; and learning to drive on the hills roads, I always wished I could have a crack on them with no other traffic. Even sitting in the silly seat, being able to blast through these roads as fast as we can is something I’m not going to forget in a long time. In fact, as my long suffering girlfriend can attest to, it’s almost impossible to drive through the hills these days without saying something like “oh, here in Targa we launched it off this little bump and landed with some opposite lock, oh and here we…”
But of course the biggest “In Targa, this is the spot where we…” moment came on our run down Gorge Road in a hail storm with a diff that was more ‘lock’ than ‘limited slip’. I think the picture tells the story!
This is one of my favourite photos of the year, not so much for technical brilliance but because it shows one of the coolest things I saw all year. During the Targa Norwood Parade street party the White’s parker their uber rare Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale outside the Bath hotel and just let anyone and everyone sit in it and check it out. No pretensions or anything like that, they spent their evening answering questions and just hanging out with the fans. They then went on to win the rally outright that Sunday.
One of the highlight stories of the year was the Keen As Racing crew’s efforts to first get the bright green Escort into Targa, and then keep it there. Who’s up for a couple of late night Escort engine changes? These guys are! They don’t look that energetic in this finish photo because as this stage they’d been up for about 36 hours, with minimal sleep in the 2 weeks leading up to the event. Dedication.
At the end of October the Sporting Car Club held their excellent 101 Years of Motoring display at the Torrens Parade Grounds in the city. The show was well attended with a huge range of sports cars, classics, vintage, supercars, race cars and other rarities, just highlighting the quality metal that hides in the sheds of Adelaide.
On the same day the Toyota clubs of Adelaide held a combined motorkhana on the Edwards Park netball courts in the CBD parklands. I didn’t enter this one so I could go to the 100 Years of Motoring show, but I kind of regret it. Seeing cars motorkhana in the CBD was just incredibly cool, but sadly I think it’s going to be a one off thing. A shame, because Edwards park is the perfect motorkhana venue.
The 2012 SARC wrapped up withe the final event of the year – the Walky Stages Rally, held in the Truro area. It was a fast blast around the smooth flat out roads, and going into the event there 3 three people who could have walked away with the state title. But in the end it was the pair of Declan Dwyer and Craig Adams who came out victorious, winning the championship in a new car in their first season back.
There are a few new cars set to be out for next season, and its going to be a cracker year.
An absolute highlight of the year was working on a story for VeloceToday.com about the history of Jeremy Browne’s Lancia Fulvia rally car, an actual works car that finished second in the 1972 San Remo rally. The experienced was capped off when Jeremy kindly let me drive the Fulvia on my favourite hills road at sunset, which is something that will stay with me for a very long time. And what’s more, this photo was also published in an iamthespeedhunter story on Speedhunters.com, something I’ve been trying to crack for a little while.
One of the final events of the year was the first Any Given Reason Burger Meet, held in the Coles car park at Blackwood. A couple of us had the idea that it would be fun to organise a relaxed car meet, where people just turned up and talked crap about cars for a while. Given that Fancy Burger make brilliant homemade burgers and they’re just across the road from Coles, Blackwood was chosen as the location and a Facebook event was created.
I really had no idea how many people would come, but I figured we’d be doing pretty well if maybe 10-15 cars turned up. We ended up with over 60 cars, and easily over 120 people. There were gravel rally cars, tarmac rally cars, modified Japanese Evo’s and STi’s, thumping V8 muscle, little Mini’s, Alfa’s, a couple of Fiat’s, a Ferrari 575 and even a Delta Integrale. The turnout completely blew me away.
A few people thanked me for the night, but their thanks was slightly misplaced. The real thanks goes to the readers who turned up and made it a success. It’s you guys who deserve the thanks – so thank you for coming!
At this stage we’ll most likely be holding another Burger Meet in February. If you didn’t come to the first one, make sure you’re at this one!
So that’s the year done and dusted – thanks for reading Any Given Reason in 2012!
I’ve got some really interesting stories planned for the summer break, and am busy working on some hugely exciting plans for next year. I can’t say what they are just yet, but suffice to say that 2013 is already shaping up to be one hell of a year!