Festival to satisfy race buffs’ need for speed

ENTRIES are flooding in for one of Victoria’s premier historic race meetings, the 2014 Winton Festival of Speed, to be held from August 9 to 10.

Now in its fifth year, the event organised by the Victorian Historic Racing Register will again feature a large array of historic machinery ranging from the 1940s to the 1990s.

The touring car categories at the event will represent three different eras: Group N will display the muscle cars of the 1960s and early 1970s, including Ford GT Falcon and Mustang, Holden Monaro and Torana XU-1, Chevrolet Camaro and Chrysler Valiant.

Group C and A span the late 1970s to the early 1990s and includes the Holden Torana A9X and Commodore, Ford Falcon and Sierra, Volvo 240, BMW M3, Jaguar XJS and Nissan Skyline.

The five-litre V8 Touring Car category features cars from the early days of the V8 Supercar era, from 1993 onwards, and has already attracted more than 20 entries, the largest-ever field since the cars started competing on the historic scene.

Notable drivers already entered include former Supercar drivers Chris Smerdon and Melinda Price.

One of the highlights of the program will be the Group N Rose City Touring Car Trophy, a 20-lap race including compulsory pit stops.

The mini-endurance race was introduced in 2011 and has been won by a different driver each year — Tony Hubbard took out the inaugural race in a Camaro, Michael Hibbert won the 2012 event in a Valiant Charger and Gary Edwards claimed last year’s trophy in a Torana XU-1.

In a first for the Festival of Speed, the popular HQ Holden category will make its inaugural appearance at a historic race meeting.

The class has been one of Australia’s longest-standing one-make series, having been in existence for more than two decades, and, as with the other categories, it has attracted a healthy field, with more the 25 cars expected on the grid from Victoria and interstate.

Fans of historic open wheelers will enjoy the Q and R Sports and Racing and historic Formula Ford categories, while classic production sports cars such as the Porsche 911, Nissan 240Z, De Tomaso Pantera and Chevrolet Corvette will participate in the Group S races.

Festival of Speed race committee chairman Ian Ross, himself a competitor in a Group C Ford XD Falcon and a Shelby GT350, has been encouraged by the interest from competitors in the lead-up to the event.

“We’re still more than two months away from this year’s Festival of Speed, but there has already been a lot of support from competitors, who are busy preparing their cars,” he said.

“It is shaping up to be a huge event for spectators, who will be able to watch the cars on track but also talk to the drivers in the pits and admire the car club vehicles on trackside display.”