The Henry Lawson Memorial Rally

Stephen Mee and Damian Reed have won the Henry Lawson Memorial Rally, round 3 of the South Australian Clubman Series, held at the Tailem Bend Motorsports Complex on Sunday 1st September. Fighting overheating issues and the rough roads which claimed many other competitors, Smee and Reed pushed hard all day to take the victory by almost a minute and a half after after 64 competitive kilometres.

Paul Rowe and Alex Raggatt, driving a Subaru Legacy RS Turbo, finished in second place.

Third outright was won by the Datsun Stanza of Andrew Gleeson and Lisi Phillips, who also took victory in the classic class.

The Datsun 1600 of Gavin Fowler and Warren Neitz looked fantastic as it slid around the two stages to take fourth place.

Shaun Holden spent the day throwing the biggest scando’s and slides in the big Ford (get it…. Holden in a Ford… yeah) on his way to fifth place. Shaun was co-driven by Michael Busby who was having his first go in the silly seat. ‘Just like Daniel Elena’, I believe he said of his co-driving performance.

Chris Bennett and Andrew Challen finished in 6th place in the GC8 WRX…

… leaving 7th for Paul Kennedy in ‘Cactus’, his unique Volkswagen buggy.

Tailem Bend Motorsport Park is the old Mitsubishi proving grounds, and the Henry Lawson Memorial Rally made good use of the snaking dirt tracks to provide 64 competitive kilometres; a good distance for an event of this type. Organisers mapped two stages, which were run three times in the morning, and then twice more in reverse after lunch.

A fair part of the special stage snaked its way through the mallee scrub, and onto special tracks cut through the open areas.

Some of the parts that ran through grassland were open and quite fast, and if you pretended hard enough you could almost fool yourself into thinking you were rallying across the savannah on the Safari Rally. Almost. I saw no zebra.

In short, the weather for the event was perfect. Coming out of a long, cold winter, this was only the second day of spring and the air was cool, the sun warm and there literally was not a single cloud in the sky.

Lewis and Sarah Parin raced to an early lead in their Velocity Racing Evo III, but unfortunately suffered gearbox problems on SS5 which put them out for the day.

Henry Nott and Laura Kessner pushed their 1600 hard all morning…

… but were out at lunchtime with this crack in the rear suspension beam. (Look just below the universal joint and immediately above the brake line)

But for every car that retired, someone struggled along to cross the finish line. Laurence How bought this Celica GT4 for $800 and set about turning it into a rally car. In true rally fashion, he, co-driver Greg Ford and a whole bunch of mates were still finishing the car until well past the midnight before the event.

But the thing that makes this special is that Laurence and co-driver Greg were crucial members of the service crew that somehow finished Glen Dean’s Escort in time for Targa Adelaide, and then stayed awake for over 30 hours straight on the Saturday night doing an engine change when the freshly built motor blew. Targa Adelaide was only last weekend, so you’d think they’d want some rest, but no, here they are doing it all over again. Keen As Racing indeed. Read about their Targa efforts in Any Given Reason’s Targa blog.

It’s fair to say that the GT4 still suffered problems you’d expect from this sort of car…

… but the guys still pulled air over the jump, and I guess that’s the main aim at these sorts of events!

Despite getting there late because of Father’s day commitments, I had an absolute ball at the Henry Lawson. State rounds are great fun but there’s a reasonable amount at stake, and everyone is always under a slight bit of pressure. There’s none of that at the Henry Lawson, the atmosphere was relaxed and everyone was just out for a good time. It was refreshing to see, and even the little one’s got into the spirit!

No matter how thick the dust, there’s a lot of fun to be had in trekking through the scrub to find a good corner to watch from.

And once you find that corner, you can stand there and cheer your mates on. ‘Do a ….’

I had a bit of a tough time photographically. I got so caught up in the relaxed, laid back atmosphere that I didn’t really think about where I was going to go for photos until the last minute, and somehow we always ended up with the cars between us and the sun, whereas ideally the photographer needs to be the one between the car and the sun. But ah well, we still had fun. (And by the way, Mark is not actually in the path of that Escort – it’s amazing the lies that can be told with sideways attitude combined with zoom photography).

Jeremy Browne and Howie Ryan shared driver/co-driver duties in Jeremy’s Mini Cooper S. This was the first time Howie has driven the Mini competitively, and found the short wheelbase to be almost painful on the rough roads.

But judging by the size of the smile on his face, I’d say he had a fairly good time. Here he is, right foot slightly lifted to indicate a throttle pedal, hands raised signalling opposite lock and torso tilted left and rearwards to show the attitude of the vehicle. You can tell from a mile away that he’s talking about rally.

But amongst all the fun and games, I think the person who easily had the most fun was Aaron Sims, who was co-driving for Cameron Footner in the pair’s first event. Chi-zoo out the window this time…

… and fist raised after landing the jump.

I mean, really, just check out the size of that grin! I’m not sure that there’s a whole lot of actual co-driving going on in there, but that’s alright.

Because at the end of the day, this is what it’s really all about. You can’t see it from here but I’m sure the smile on Dainis’ face is just as big.

It struck me that people, myself included, really don’t realise just how accessible this fun is. I’ve only ever been to state championship rounds before and I’ve never seriously thought about competing as a driver because I’m not in the position to right now, but I never even knew that you don’t need a full-house car to go rallying. There’s nothing stopping you from bringing your road car out to one of these events, and you’ll learn more about car control in just one of these events than you will in years of road driving. The roads at Tailem Bend are reasonably safe and you don’t need a full roll cage or anything crazy like that, in fact you barely need two pennies to rub together. It’s great.

And possibly the best thing about the Motorsport Park is that it is less than five minutes drive from the Tailem Bend Hotel, a pub with probably the single best verandah view of any hotel in South Australia. The day for us ended with a cold beer overlooking the River Murray, talking crap about rally cars and making plans for the next event. I can see this becoming a tradition here, I think.

And then as the fiery sun set into the horizon, it was back to Adelaide as the warm day slowly turned into cold evening, accompanied by thoughts of somehow competing in a Clubman event next year. Uh-oh, it begins….

More South Australian rally stories on Any Given Reason:

Scouts Rally SA

Walky 100 Robertstown

Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally

Rallye Wattle Range

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  1. laurence how September 5, 2012 Reply

    mate you have out done yourself nice write up and good photos

    • Andrew Coles September 5, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Laurence, I'm just glad you finished. I would have hated to write that you didn't make it!

  2. smee September 5, 2012 Reply

    Excellent write up as always.
    This was my first ever outright rally win. Still has to sink in.
    The first few stages for Damo and I was without an intercom. My failure to Q.A some connectors in the roof found a dry joint at the end of service 3. Bypassing the fuse we had power. Who would have thought the Stilo was so much an improvement over the Terraphone.
    Great work from my service crew to bring the Celica home in one jumbled piece. The schnitzel and beer on return to Adelaide was a good closure to an excellent event.

  3. Cameron Footner September 6, 2012 Reply

    Once again a fantastic write-up on an excellent day!
    You are a seriously talented photographer and writer. Once I start reading, I can't stop. Keep up the amazing work and I look forward to the next write-up.

    • Andrew Coles September 6, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Cameron, I love doing it so I'm glad people enjoy reading it! So will you be out again?

      • Cameron Footner September 10, 2012 Reply

        It was ridiculous amounts of fun, but I don't think the Gemini will be out again. :( Building it up for the street with a 13b in it.

        May have to buy another one and dump my current engine in it when I get the $$ though. :P

  4. Joshua R September 7, 2012 Reply

    Hey andrew can i use your pic of the White Diahatsu Applause with Grey Bumper going over the jump? please it's for the research project

    • Andrew Coles September 7, 2012 Reply

      Hey Josh, of course, go for it! Cheers, Andrew

  5. Jeremy Browne September 7, 2012 Reply

    How do I get copies of some of the photos Adndrew? Great article again.

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