“What’s the bet that we can’t find a $200 car, buy it, and race it tomorrow? That’s only $50 each…”

This is the tale of 4 knockabout blokes, and their spur of the moment quest to find a car, buy it, prepare it and race it – all in less than 24 hours.

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…”

Never has this meme been more accurate.

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.

And then we struck gold, this little Festiva was exactly what we were looking for.

We wanted to get the car that night so we could commence the racing paint job, but unfortunately that wasn’t possible. A deal was struck for $225, and a time made for an 830am collection.

“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!

Patrick and Damo¬†liked what they saw. The battery was clamped down, the drivers seat properly mounted and the seat belt wasn’t frayed. We were in business!

It had evidence of a French racing pedigree…

… and what’s more, it was a Sport model too!

Rack City Bitch!! This being the second Festi that Damo has co-owned, it was quickly dubbed 2festi.

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.

We managed to get Jared to knock another $25 off the price to bring us back within our $200 budget. It was 840am, and we were the proud owners of a racecar!

First stop was a car wash to remove the bird poo and cobwebs. No matter what its value, you can’t start an event with a dirty car!

They say you always discover things you missed the first time you wash a car, and we certainly found a few imperfections on 2festi’s coachwork.

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!

Patrick got the job of driving 2festi down to Lanac Park near Mount Compass. A double thumbs up is an indication of a good day ahead!

We stopped for fuel…

… giving her a tank of 100 Octane and a bottle of injector cleaner to really make her sing!

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!

A lot of what we found was quite festi; we chose not to think about what it was or how it got there.

We rattle canned the bonnet flat black and carefully applied two electrical tape racing stripes to the roof, and we were set! 2festi passed scruitineering without a hitch…

… 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.

2festi was actually a lot of fun to drive – it had zero front end grip, but made decent power and the excellent handbrake meant it was an absolute hoot to throw around the cones.

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!

The sombrero sounded like a good idea at the time, but it just didn’t work behind the wheel.

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.

Ah who am I kidding? The real battle was between the 4 of us. 4 drivers in the same car on the same day – it was the perfect storm!

Mark was at a slight disadvantage due to blisters he received during the previous night’s karting. Well, that was his excuse anyway!

The only problems we had were 2 consecutive flat tyres…

… which were caused by small stones getting trapped between the rim and tyre bead.

The spare ended up with a leak worse than the one we pulled off, but luckily we managed to fix it by hitting it with a hammer. I thought the guys were joking when they first suggested it!

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.

Graham went first and unequivocally showed us how it’s done. Perfection the first time.

Patrick was next, but he didn’t carry quite enough speed and left the flick a little too late, hitting the garage 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.

Counting the car, the entry fee and some fuel, the day cost each of us just $80. 2festi ended up running 54 competitive runs with no real problems, and lives to fight another day!

Damo might even be in love!

At the end of the day, we packed the interior back into 2festi and hit the road.

We even gave her a wash, and paid extra for suds!

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

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  1. Chris November 27, 2012 Reply

    good work , have always had thoughts of a sub $500 challenge car.. ( Kinda like the stuff they do on top gear ) one car and different forms of motorsport ..Sprint ,Motokhana ect ect ..

    Go 2Festi

  2. KEEN AS RACING November 27, 2012 Reply

    Well done boys yes let's run a sub $500 race ill bring my new gt4 celica lol

  3. teamgreenrallysport November 27, 2012 Reply

    Awesome write up as always. 2, 4, 6, 8! Bog down, don't wait!

  4. geoff November 27, 2012 Reply

    Great story, Andrew!

  5. smee November 27, 2012 Reply

    Good to see Damo got beaten "again", but this time by a relative noob. When will he learn.....
    Still loving our $700 (down from $1200) AE92 4AGE rolla. Has had a few improvements made and it gets the wife out competing..

  6. Aarono November 27, 2012 Reply

    Good stuff lads, except for the lack of an invite :)

  7. sevenau November 29, 2012 Reply

    Reblogged this on Sevenau's Blog.

  8. Peter Dawidowski April 18, 2013 Reply

    Well done guys! Awesome

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