Sporting Car Club November Twilight Race Meeting

There’s something about night racing that just does it for me. The daytime part of the events are usually hot, and I love how the setting sun casts a golden glow over the track as the temperatures finally cool off into balmy evening.

Not to mention the added spectacle of night racing which is spiced up by little mistakes caused by hard-to-see apex’s, the brake rotors glowing hot red and exhaust’s belching flames on overrun.

And of course the rare chance to shoot proper racing in the ‘golden hour’ of sunset is one that can’t be passed up!

And for the most part, the racing was good and close with battles being fought throughout the entire fields in most of the categories.

I started my day off with a visit to the commentary tower to see how the day would pan out.  It seems my visit to the tower was perfectly timed with a race that wasn’t all that exciting, and it was quite amazing to see how Liam and the guy’s are literally able to make something out of nothing.

They even announced my arrival over the PA system… “There’s a tall guy with a camera standing behind me, which is unusual because we’re used to being heard, not seen, in the commentary team…”

There was a good field of historic touring cars…

… with an epic battle every race between the leading Torana and Boss Mustang. The Mustang had it in a straight line, but the nimble Torana made up ground every corner. It made for good racing.

I’m still a sucker for old racing Porsche’s though.

The West racecars that comprise most of the Sports Racer class are a seriously awesome bit of gear – affordable considering their speed, low maintenance and properly fast – try 1.05’s around Mallala!

 British driver James Winslow was driving this multicolour West. Winslow has won the British, Asian and Australian F3 championships (twice Australian champion), has tested a champ car, raced for Britain in A1 GP and for Andretti Autosport in Indy Lites. In the 57 year history of the CAMS Gold Star award, Winslow holds the record for the most single race wins in a season so it was an honour to host him at Mallala. I took a closer look at Winslow’s West, which will be coming soon in a dedicated post.

We’re used to seeing Dan Day in the forests, rallying his Subaru STi with Steve Glenney sitting alongside him. But Dan has also been doing some circuit racing in a variety of different cars, and for the twilight meet he was behind the wheel of this Falcon Sports Sedan.

The term ‘Falcon’ is used very, very lightly. There’s not a whole lot of Falcon in this thing – probably only the taillights and door handles. It’s quick though.

Andy Sarandis was back out in his Beams powered Sprinter, taking the under 2 litre Improved Production championship in his stride.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Gav and the crew, as an alternator problem meant a lack of electricity when it was needed. The car held on with a bush mechanic fix, battery charges between races and plenty of fingers crossed that it wouldn’t run out of volts at an inopportune moment.

Andy did receive a bit of a love tap in a start line incident in the first race. So a call out to the public – does anyone have a Sprinter sedan left rear quarter and taillight for sale? Andy is keen to hear from you!

The open wheelers ran during the daylight hours only, with Scott Stephenson having his first run in a Formula Ford.

Formula Ford – you’re doing it wrong.

Luke Fraser’s sudden spin was caused by an exploding brake rotor when he began to brake for turn 3. It happened so quickly that I doubt he would have had much of an idea what happened. Scary.

And here is a perfect illustration of Murphy and his well known law. There were no less than seven photographers standing at that corner, and all of us had our backs turned, deep in conversation. I was lucky to catch the last half of the spin, but others were not so lucky.

Speaking of photographers, Bob Taylor played his trump card by bringing out his 400 2.8 lens on the end of his Nikon D3, leading us to feelings of slight inadequacy. All up we worked out that the camera gear dangling off Bob that day was worth more than most of the racecars he was shooting. I’ve gotta be honest though, I’d probably rather keep my basic camera setup and have a racecar. Crazy aperture’s and big zoom is fun, but I think a Formula Ford would be more fun!

Although if I were to trade my camera for a racecar, I’d be lucky to get a deposit for an Excel. On the Monday after the race meeting, I actually caught myself fantasising about owning one of these Excels.

Okay, you can stop laughing now, I’m serious. You can pick up a decent prepared excel for around $7k. Parts are cheap as chips, and the racing is really tight. And what’s more, they run the same rules in the Excel gravel rally series, so you could theoretically go circuit racing and gravel rallying in the same car. And you could even drive it to the track. It’s the perfect affordable, beginners all-round racecar.

In fact, Excel’s are now what HQ Holden’s were twenty years ago. Except the only problem now is that there’s a risk of HQ’s actually becoming classics, and it’s been hard to find HQ body parts for quite a while now. Dare I say it, I can see the day when HQ’s will be out of reach of budget racers.

I don’t think anyone has actually built a new HQ in the last 10 years; there’s only a limited supply of cars out there and it will only last so long.

Asher Johnston wore this visor banner on his helmet. As much fun as Kart Mania Richmond is, I still think I’d much rather be racing Asher’s West.

Numbers were down a little bit in the historic class, I guess owners these days must wait for dedicated historic meets. I thought the best looking historic car was this Repco special.

There’s always some interesting metal in the spectators carpark. My girlfriends Dad, Ian, came out in his 1934 Ford Hotrod.

I dug the Supertrapp mufflers on this C4 Corvette. I don’t know if they actually work any better, but they look boss.

Photographer Mark Williams made a lofty speech about how he has no intentions of being overly arty, and then right away proceeded to climb down amongst the weeds to shoot low and capture the cars over the tire wall and fire extinguishers – clearly the most arty shooting done all day.

One of the most impressive cars was Simon Podlewski’s Nissan 180SX. All that crazy aero is there to justify the engine. The Twins Turbo Motorsport sticker on the rear spoiler gives the game away somewhat – it’s powered by a tuned Toyota 2JZ putting out around 500kw at the wheels.

It was popping big flames all night (see second image). Excuse the crap quality of this photo, but I thought the double upshift flame justified its posting. I wonder where the flame under the car is coming from though?

And as the flag fell on the last race, it brought the 2012 season proper to a close.

And heading out the gate on my way home, the thought dawned that this might be my last time at Mallala until next year.

The racing is over, and the show season begins!

Words and photos by Andrew Coles

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  1. Tom Gilbert November 22, 2012 Reply

    Great coverage Andrew. I saw a pic of Ryan Crosbies HQ and blow me down if the front discs weren't glowing red. Brilliant. Won't be able to make Fri 30th sorry, bride is going out.

    • Andrew Coles November 24, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Tom, and yes, Ryan's discs were certainly glowing red! That's okay about the 30th, if this one is a success I'm sure we'll do it again!

  2. KEEN AS RACING November 24, 2012 Reply

    Another good write up mate
    I love reading them
    Where's my sticker!!

    • Andrew Coles November 24, 2012 Reply

      Cheers Lawrence! Stickers are in the works... I've started working on the logo design, as soon as I've finished that I'll find a graphic designer to touch it up for me and make it look properly schmick, then I'll get them printed and we'll be set!

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