Home' Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser : November 23, 2016 Contents PAGE 16 - THE ADVERTISER, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2016
60 YEARS of RACING at PHILLIP ISLAND
LAST year it was 25 years of
Magic for Island Magic for the
iconic race meeting whereas this
year is simply more Magic with
the Improved Production Na-
tionals 2016 being the featured
event with 125 Improved Pro-
duction Cars vying for number
one in Australia.
In support of this great cat-
egory and underpinning group
of races we have the now tra-
ditional CUE Victorian Tourist
Trophy one hour Endurance
Race with 45 Exotic Sports cars,
including 22 Porsches, nine Au-
dis, two Lamborghinis and vari-
ous, Nissan,Chev Corvette, Lo-
tus, Ginetta, Ford GT40,a lone
Mazda and the Australian built
The 50K Plate for Sports Se-
dans backed by Ramada Resort
Phillip Island, for the 10th con-
secutive year, brings 26 of these
fast and furious sedans to the
circuit to play.
Ramada Resort also provides
entertainment for race fans with
Document Check in the resort
bar on Friday night where the
public can mix with the drivers.
The iconic 50K Plate again
concludes the Victorian Sports
The Phillip Island Formula
Ford Trophy this year features
a strong contingent of interstate
cars joining 2015 and 2016
Victorian Champion Brendan
Jones in his Formula Ford 1600
and Australia’s fastest mum Le-
anne Tander looking unbeatable
in the Australian Formula Ford
Association National Series.
Formula Vees from Australia
wide return after their fantastic
2014 Nationals showing and a
good entry in 2015 also, with a
phenomenal 40 car field of these
The popular Historic Touring
Cars will provide entries for the
Graham Slater Victorian Histor-
ic Touring Car Trophy, with 37
of these nostalgic race cars in-
cluding a full field of Mustangs,
GT Falcons, Torana XU1s, Mini
Coopers, Cortinas, BMWs, Char-
gers and Eddie Dobbs in his FE
Holden celebrating 60 years of
racing, this car having been the
original Graeme Blanchard Ap-
pendix J car.
Improved Production fans will
be well catered for with the 2016
Nationals providing 2 fields of
over 2 Litre cars and a separate
field of under 2 Litre cars via for
their own Nationals title.
The range of race cars runs
from 1300cc Suzukis to 6000cc
Don’t miss out as Island Magic
is a great way for both competi-
tors and spectators to finish up a
year’s racing at Australia’s most
picturesque and challenging
PIARC President Geoff Bull
emphasized the clubs commit-
ment to affordable family motor-
sport events with no change to
admission to great motorsport
and heritage at a budget friendly
$30.00 for a weekend pass and
all accompanied kids under 16
are admitted free.
Free parking & trackside view-
ing from your own car being a
For more details see- www.
By Graeme Noonan
THIS coming month we celebrate
60 years of racing at the Phillip Island
Grand Prix Circuit, with the inaugural
meeting – appropriately named the
‘Grand Opening Meeting’ held at the
island circuit on Saturday, December
Motor racing at Phillip Island has of
course a much longer history.
Very successful, well attended Grand
Prix races for cars were held from
1928 until 1935.
TT motorcycle races were staged
continuously between 1928 and 1940
despite being run over unsealed, par-
tially oiled public roads, constant dif-
ficulties with government opposition
and the problem of access.
The first permanent timber suspen-
sion bridge to Phillip Island was not
built until 1940 at a cost of 62,000
Many will be familiar with the iconic
photo of Arthur Terdich’s Bugatti be-
ing unloaded in a sling from a ferry at
(Terdich at the time was President of
the Light Car Club of Australia (LCCA))
The route of the original public road
course can still be traced via the tour-
ist road marker signs, with such evoca-
tive names as “Hell”, “Heaven”, “Gentle
Anne” and “Young & Jackson’s” Cor-
ners, and the “Bridge of Sighs”.
Car racing ceased for just on 20
years from 1936-1956.
It was thanks to a half dozen local
enthusiasts who met frequently at a
Cowes cafe to share their dream of a
permanent motor racing complex that
the Phillip Island Motor Racing Club
was formed and its first formal meet-
ing held at the LCCA clubrooms in
The founding enthusiasts were local
small transport business owner, Ber-
nhard Denham, owner of Mac’s Café
Winston Maguire, and other local busi-
nessmen, Vern Curtin, John Elliot, Bill
Evans, and Herbert Watchorn.
The men set about finding a suitable
site for a track and, fortunately, land-
owner P.D Whitlock, who owned the
Brighton Beach Motors Holden deal-
ership, offered them 300 acres at a
very reasonable price of 6,525 pounds
($13,050) on only a 100 pound ($200)
Terms were generous in the extreme,
with no fixed repayment amount,
schedule or term!
Whitlock also became a member.
The name change of the club to
the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club
(PIARC) occurred early to cater for mo-
torcycle as well as car racing.
The now famous badge featuring
a koala and chequered flag was also
designed at this time by Hector Good-
all, inspired in part, by the badge of
the British Automobile Racing Club
(BARC) of a lion rampant and a che-
Under the guidance of Roy Linden,
Alan Brown, a consulting engineer and
surveyor, was engaged to draft a plan
for the circuit and, on the advice of
drivers who had raced in Europe, the
Zandvoort track near Haarlem on the
Dutch coast was put forward as a pos-
The location and environment of
Zandvoort was not dissimilar to Phil-
lip Island; low scrubby coastal country
subject to extreme climatic elements.
Brown followed the general layout
of the tentative clearing and pegging
which had already been done by mem-
bers, and produced a free-flowing, high
lap-speed design originally intended to
be run, as at Zandvoort, in a clockwise
But Brown, conforming to public
road design criteria in force at the
time, created corner angles that tight-
ened in a way unsuited to racing, so
the committee solved the problem by
simply reversing the direction.
From that time on, racing at the Phil-
lip Island Grand Prix circuit has been
Long-time members will remember
the hardships which followed, not only
the perennial financial ones, but the
endless member and volunteer work-
ing bees necessary to construct the
But big working weekends were tem-
pered with companionship and cama-
raderie between entire families, many
who camped on site to undertake the
Likely opening dates were discussed
and discarded as both financial and
severe adverse weather incidents oc-
Despite progress on construction be-
ing possible through member drives
and contributions, and some sponsor-
ship/naming deals, it was not enough
to ensure completion.
Then in 1955 a contribution of
17,000 Pounds ($34,000) was received
from Repco and Olympic Tyres, who
both took corner naming rights.
Lane’s Motors had already paid 150
pounds ($300) for the rights to “Lane’s
MG Corner” (Turn 10), still known to-
day as “MG Corner”.
As delays in opening continued,
members were invited to a car rally
from Melbourne to Phillip Island in Oc-
tober 1954, where a gymkhana event
was held on the unsealed track.
In February 1955, a six hour regular-
ity run was staged.
An opening date of September 23,
1955 was announced, but was can-
celled when severe bad weather ham-
pered the sealing of the track.
The Club used the occasion to run
member vehicles slowly round the
track to help consolidate it.
Finally, after six years and two fur-
ther postponements, Saturday De-
cember 15, 1956 saw fulfilment of the
dream with the first race on the Phillip
Island Grand Prix circuit.
Saturday was chosen as state laws
at that time prohibited motor sport on
Not unexpectedly, the influence of the
weather was prominent.
One report described it as “one of
the wettest days in Australian motor-
An astonishingly comprehensive
eighty page program was produced,
with driver and vehicle profiles, history
Some lucky long-time PIARC mem-
bers have copies of the original pro-
gramme and the large number of
advertisements for sponsors and mo-
toring businesses, some sadly long
gone, is a window to the Australian
motoring scene of time past.
It was a real bargain, costing a mere
three shillings (30c).
The meeting featured four events for
cars and three for motorcycles. Several
races included competition for two
classes, run concurrently over differing
distances, making a total of ten events.
The opening event for example, was
for racing cars under 1500 cc (24
miles) with Formula III racing cars
So, somewhat confusingly, there are
two winners who can claim to be the
first at the circuit.
First to take
the chequered flag
The remarkable, sometimes irasci-
ble, Murray Rainey, who was less than
five feet tall, with one leg significantly
shorter than the other, necessitating
the strangest pedal box configuration
ever known, was the first to take the
chequered flag at nine miles in the
Formula III class in his supercharged
Cooper-Norton Mark IX.
(Rainey, a very accomplished en-
gineer, is generally acknowledged as
the first person to successfully super-
charge a Norton single.)
The car was last owned and raced in
Australia by John Caffin but, sold to
England in the early 2000’s.
The famous Lex Davison in a Phil
Irving prepared supercharged Cooper-
Vincent Mark IV took the second che-
quered flag at 24 miles in the under
Phil Irving, a founder member of
PIARC, was not only known as the sav-
iour of the Vincent motorcycle through
his successful engine designs, but cre-
ator of the hugely successful Holden
Repco High-Power head, and as a
member of the Repco design team re-
sponsible for Jack Brabham’s world
championship winning Repco-Brab-
ham engine used in BT19.
Lex Davison is the grandfather of
current successful V8 Supercar and
Porsche drivers, Will and Alex, and
their father Richard and his brother
Chris were prominent drivers who still
compete in historic events.
The Cooper-Vincent is owned and
raced regularly by well-known Sydney
Hewland specialist and air-cooled en-
thusiast, Garry Simkin.
The premier event of the inaugural
meeting was “The Bill Thompson Me-
(Thompson was a four-time winner
in the 1930’s over the original public
Winner was Jack Brabham in a Coo-
per “Bobtail” Climax 1500 from Bib
Stillwell in his D-Type Jaguar, and Paul
England in the Bill Hickey/Paul Eng-
land-built, Holden-engined beautiful
The Bobtail went back to Europe,
as did the D-Type eventually, although
there are a few examples of both still
raced here, including Tasmanian Scot-
ty Taylor’s Bobtail.
After a lengthy period of ownership
and use by Ian McDonald, the Ausca
was sold a couple of years ago but still
appears locally in historic competition.
Other prominent car competitors at
the inaugural meeting included Doug
Whiteford, the late Bill Paterson and
Len Lukey, who later owned the circuit.
Frank Spiller won the premier mo-
torcycle race, The Senior Classic, on a
Keith Campbell, later to become Aus-
tralia’s first (350cc) World Motorcycle
Champion, was due to compete on a
works Moto-Guzzi, but dislocated his
shoulder practicing in the wet and was
forced to withdraw. He had dislodged
his goggles when attempting to adjust
them, was temporarily blinded by rain
and fell at Repco Corner.
Other prominent riders competing
were well known motorcycle dealer
Maurie Quincey, Ken Rumble, Trevor
Pound, Ron Miller, side-car winner
Bob Mitchell, Bernie Mack and Hart-
well Life Member, Wes Brown.
For reasons related to the remote-
ness of Phillip Island and long road
trip from Melbourne, the weather and
a single day meeting, spectator atten-
dance was not great.
The Club sustained a loss of about
1,000 pounds ($2,000), a precursor to
ongoing problems related to cash-flow
and the cost of maintaining the circuit.
But as the sun set on December 15,
1956, much had been established by
The first race on sealed bitumen had
The Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit
was officially christened, and so began
a 60 year journey that has seen the is-
land become a beacon for fine motors-
port that people worldwide enjoy.
Written by Graeme Noonan (PIARC
251) with help from Jim Scaysbrook’s
book “Phillip Island: A History of Mo-
torsport since 1928.”
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit sixty years on
Pictured is the line up at the IPRA Nationals in 2009
IPRA Nationals and more magic
Chris Lambden’s prototype FT5000 car will be on show at Island Magic
this weekend at Phillip Island, the first time it has been unveiled in Victo-
ria. It is set to be the basis of an all-new open wheeler formula, combining
modern car safety standards (i.e. carbon fibre chassis) with the best of
the golden era of motorsport, the 1970s – including 5-litre V8 engine, big
wide tyres, and the sound and looks to go with it. It is intended that the
car form the basis of a summer series, in both NZ and Australia, much
like the old Tasman series.
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