30th Sandown Historics
Big bad Sandown was back to its very best, with the 30th running of the VHRR’s Sandown Historics which turned on the action over the weekend.
After the 2020 event became a victim of the pandemic, the 2021 running was a decidedly low-key affair, with a skeleton audience allowed onto the spectator banks at Dandenong Road corner.
This time around, entries poured in from around the country, the car clubs returned to fill the grounds, while a decent turnout of punters packed out the northern end of the grandstand.
As is becoming the custom at historic meets, there were some more modern ring-in categories to fill the program, and even though it was jam-packed, it ran well to time with minimal delays sans significant recoveries.
The National Sports Sedans were a highlight, with Jordan Caruso claiming the title with a clean sweep, while also taking home a new lap record, smashing a whopping 0.4sec off Tony Ricciardello’s previous benchmark.
An interesting entry was second-generation racer Mason Kelly, who stepped up into his father Todd’s last Nissan Altima Supercar, with the 17-year-old coming to grips with the package nicely.
Fifth place in the final race after starting the earlier races from the rear of grid bodes well for his future prospects.
One of the only safety car appearances of the event occurred in the second heat when Ian Ross tangled with Randald Maclurkin (Aston Martin), with the latter nosing headfirst into the unprotected two-high Armco barrier, before extricating himself from the car.
The HQ Holdens turned out en masse, with New South Wales dominating the top of the results sheets, with Brett Osborn winning two races and John Baxter the other, with nice clean racing from the 40-odd strong field a feature.
In another standard state-series class to make an appearance, the MG and other Brit-sourced machines was dominated by Robin Bailey’s MGB GT V8, while Mike Roddy’s Bathurst-winning Jaguar was the best of the rest in the last two races.
The Group N touring cars were split into two fields loosely on cubic capacity lines.
John Bowe dominated the opening two races from Group 2 in the Ford Mustang he had commandeered for the event, with Andrew Lane in another ‘Stang taking the chocolates in the decider when Bowe slowed late.
In Group 1 proceedings, David Brown was an unstoppable force in his Datsun 1600.
As we know in Australia, you don’t necessarily need a large field of big banging open wheelers to put on a show, as witnessed with the F5000s, which were dominated by the Lola T332 of Paul Zazryn.
As always, there was some spirited racing in the Formula Fords, and despite some tight competition, Jonathan Miles scooped the three outright wins.
The Group S races were dominated at the top end of town by Chev Corvettes, with Joseph Di Bartolo winning the opener before Ray Narkiewicz bounced back to claim the latter pair.
In the Groups P, Q and R Racing plus Q and R Sports, precious little split Grant Doulman (Shrike) and David Hardman (Hardman) in the opening races, with the honours going to Doulman, before he spun in race three, with subsequent damage to Hardman’s wing sending him into retirement.
That race win was ultimately claimed by James Crozier (Ralt RT21).
Meanwhile in the Groups M, O Sports and Racing and Invited, Andrew Robson finished the event undefeated in his lovely Brabham BT30.
Elsewhere in the Groups J, K, Lb, Formula Vee and Invited, Nicholas McDonald was thrice successful in his Repco Holden Monoposto, with a highlight of the races being the typical Formula Vee free-for-all.
Last but not least, the three Regularity Trials were won by Stewart Webster (Porsche 356), Peter Lubrano (Alfa Sud) and Steve Wingett (March 729).
Next up on the Victorian historic racing calendar is the Phillip Island Classic on March 9-12 2023, followed a week later by the Rob Roy Revival hillclimb, with hot paddock gossip having some significant international pieces making the journey Downunder to partake in both events.