As all who have followed matters on these sundry pages would know, we, at the Feral Sports Car Club treat history very seriously. Yessiree. Most of us have been history a few times, and we know what it feels like.
Arfer and the Wolf had been chewing the fat about the Newstead Speed Trials that were apparently held in the mid 1950's, and we were thinking it might be a hoot to recreate them.
From 1947, till it's completion in 1956, what was then the State Water Commission built a large reservoir called Lake Cairn Curran, which ran from just west of Newstead north, up past Maldon, to Barringhup, a distance of some 10 miles. In the process, they decomissioned a road to Maryborough, and built another one, complete with new bridge, because the path of the old one would be flooded when the lake filled. The old road was of good quality asphalt, and in the 1950's speed events were held on it, by we think, The Light Car Club (we would welcome any info on this).
Arfer knew the exact location of the speed track, and, though it was very pot-holed thought it would do us very nicely. We were finally motivated by the recent floods which filled the lake.
Now, any common-or-garden variety boy racer, or, (in the case of the Club that is often mistaken for The Victorian Senior Citizens Club,) geriatric hoon, can do a speed trial. You just take a bit of tarmac, perfectly manicured, lay on top of that 300 millimeters of bureaucratic paperwork, by an organisation like CAMS which has no interest whatsoever in vintage cars), charge an arm and a leg to enter, separate the crowd from the action by yards of ARMCO, ensure that those with the fastest cars and deepest pockets always win, and bore the crap out of everyone. Easy-peasy! Any Anal can do it.
We thought we'd do it a bit differently.
Two speed events: 1- The Sorta Straight Line Splash, and 2- The Cross Country Splash. They were held at two locations, seperated by a bit of water, and a train line, and no charge to anyone.
The roll-up of punters was impressive. Putative new Members were: The Bennet in a 1923 20HP Rolls Royce with a body that was apparently commissioned by Lord Kelvinator as a shooting brake. The personal cast crest of the Cold Lord is still visible on the off-side door. History has it that the car was passed on to Kelvinator's bum-chum at Eaton, Lord Vesty, and was last used for running down errant blacks in the NT. A colourful history, so to speak, but it is a pity that the machine-gun turret was removed.
Also on its first outing was the 1935 International Truck owned by young Tucki, who was blooded, (or infected with the Feral virus) after being navigator for the Wolf on the Pyrenees 2009 Frolic. That's him on the right with Young Tom and "The Beau Brummel of The Ferals", the sartorially resplendant, Deaf John. The truck was previously in service by a H.M.Phillips, Building Contractor of St Arnaud, Phone 142. Give him a ring, and tell him Yorick sent you.
As for the rest, there were your regulars, The Wolf in the Huddo, Yandoit in the Crossley, Arfer in the A Model, Robbo brought two cars: the Lipstick Pig Ply Mouth (which did not trouble the water) and the Chev Ute, which did, Deaf John was there in the Austen 7, Fergie brought along Cowboy Kenny's Buick, and the Mauler came along in the Ford hotrod, which he did not think could cope with the wet. The brickie was originally gunna have two cars, but both were scratchings. A good turnout, plus several locals who were there because of loose lips at local watering holes. No wucking forries! Read on.
The Sorta Straight Line Splash
The original sprint, we reckon, was a flying mile. What we had was 30 yards or so of goat track from the rail track, then a sharp left onto the tarmac till we hit the water. About a K or so. That's enough!
The pot-holes were character building, but the rest was just boring shit......until.........we thought........well maybe............we'll just end it in the fucking lake!
Waded out in the newly purchased gum-boots (15 years of drought) and bunged the finish line at about 3/4 gumboot height, about 50 yards or so. The speed trial was set!
Timing was an issue, but we thought that we could get more punters into the action by having a passenger operate the $6 Chinese stop watch. This worked out really well, nobody cheated, and we'll use it on the upcoming hillclimb.
50 yards of water does not sound much, but when that 50 yards has no road visible, and when you know you must get beyond it, and all you have in front of you is water, with no road markers, and deep mud either side...... well it concentrates the mind.
For the spectators it's just a gas!
The rules were that you ran through the finish line at your own pace, but.. you must reverse back to dry land under your own steam, to complete a run. (In future , a refinement of this rule to disallow opening of the bonnet might be needed).
Various approaches were used by the punters: Yandoit cornered the entire districts supply of insulation tape to wrap the magneto, the Wolf used a large square olive-oil tin to cover the dizzy, Arfer went for all ends, with sack at the front, snorkel on the exhaust, and a paddle, just in case.
Driving styles were interesting. Deaf John, who had taken no precausions, just drove very moderately, totally out of character we all thought. The Rolls, as befits the marque, "Proceeded to the Line", rather than rush it. The Crossley, Hudson, Ford and Buick just went for it, aiming at splash and what-the fuck!
Of the punters at this stage, the Yandoit in the Crossley was the most desperate of the Feral cars with two very spirited runs, resulting not only in the fastest time, but the complete saturation of the time-keeper/passenger.
Not all took part in this section wimping out because of the size of the potholes, which to be fair, did resemble foxholes in parts. Where's the fucking ANZAC spirit I ask?
Fastest time overall, however, was by a member of the crowd. Oz, a mate from Maldon, had just wandered over for a squizz, and got caught up in the moment, and had a go in his 1962 International Ute, and blitzed us. No shame in that, (different era) but I ask you, how often would that happen at a CAMS event, where a member of the public decides to just have a go?
After a coupla runs we decided to move to the second venue, which was also where we were to camp for the night.
Most of us went along the road, to show the ring-ins where the next spot was, but Arfer and Yandoit, being the last to leave went by the direct route, via the railway tracks. Not the most comfortable or speedy way to travel. When they got to the turn-off, they came across a bus straddling the tracks, who had been fascinated by all these old bangers disappearing into the paddock. He looked astounded when he saw the two cars on the tracks.
"Where did you come from?" he asked.
"Melbourne." they replied.
The Cross Country Splash was a different kettle of mash from the Sorta Straight Line Splash. It started from the entrance of the camping area, around a bumpy goat track till it hit the tarmac, down and up, then a steady downhill till you hit the water. The track was good because it was too steep for water to have ponded on it for 60 years.
I put the finish line out at 3/4 gumboot level again, which some scoffed at because it was only out by about 30 feet, and from the bank looked even less. The devil was in the slope.
By this time, not only the bus, but a large number of locals, some in old (shiny) cars had gathered to the fray. On top of this, the mid-event spiritual nourishment was taking effect.
First off the line was the Wolf in the Huddo, with Brickie as passenger, and two drunks, plus the dog Frazzle in the back. Having put out the finish line, I knew what lay beyond, which was a bit daunting. It may have been better to have been in blissfull ignorance, and just gone harder. But we got out.
Everyone, having seen what had happened to Yandoits previous passenger at the other venue, was extremely reluctant to be drowned in the quest for dubious glory. Finally only the gutsy Izzie was willing to be reluctantly co-opted into the soggy seat.
The Yandoit hammered it down the track, into the drink, with a fair amount of flair, and finally parted the final layers of insulation tape and shorted out his maggie. He was ignomiously hoiked out by a passing 4WD.
Deaf John again did a very sedate run, with the Tuki as passenger, and backed out on his Pat Malone.
After that it was the Tuki's turn, in the 1935 Inter Truck. He gave it heaps, with two drunks on the back, and probably came closest to winning it. He produced the second most spectacular splash of the whole shebang, and must be mentioned in dispatches for a gutsy effort. Bravo! (See Title Pic)
Now, it is not commonly known that The Robbo, is only a part owner of the Historic Robert Menzies Chevrolet Ute. In fact a co-owner exists, to whit, Carse. Many have pondered the proportion of Carse's ownership, but after the weekend's effort we reckon it's not very large, by the way he pounded the shit out of it, and his "devil-may-care" indifference to water.
He hooned it down that hill with no thought of tomorrow, and hit the water like he was Moses. He did indeed part a fair wack of it, till it came back on him. He stopped. He started, on what we reckoned from the shore was about 3 cylinders. Slowly, cylinder by cylinder, they joined the chorus, and finally the entire 6 voice choir joined in. Magnificent! And didn't he let us all know he had the winning run! (See pic at bottom)
It is a well known fact, universally acknowledged, that Other People's Cars (OPC's) go better. OPC's can run with no water, fuck all oil, and even flat tyres. OPC's have been known to withstand valve-bouncing, in all gears, for miles on end, and, in a recently recorded incident, even go from a fast first to reverse, twice, without major mishap. There's something about OPC's that's frankly spooky.
The OPC at this event happened to be the Buick belonging to Cowboy Kenny. The Kenny was away working, earning an honest quid, and, apparently, the Buick was "borrowed" by some "unknown parties", and entered "because that's what Kenny woulda wanted".
What he, no doubt, did not possibly want was that it be piloted by a near comatose Mauler, in what was no doubt the fastest run of the day. It was blistering. You could hear it coming from miles away, sheep panicked and fled in fear, and I reckon the Mauler had removed the floorboards in order to get the loud pedal down a bit more. It was howling as it hit the water, and you could have sworn there was a Minky Whale under that car by the size of the water spout that erupted from the front of that Buick. It went through the finishing line at full bore, and continued so for far too long, till it hit really deep water, and that was it. Had to be towed out.
After that it was just a bit of mucking about, as is normal for a Feral do. Lots of beer and bullshit.
Deaf John in his mission to convert the world to Austin Sevens, took La Belle Helene for a spin. She enjoyed the ride for its vibrational characteristics, and the wind in the hair experience. What she was perhaps a little less than chuffed with was the hot-oil douche, when the oil line on the bonnet-less clunker let go.
Only one last item really. The Yandoit had, as mentioned, been stalled by general wetness. This proved to be a continuing curse. He was not staying for the night, and beseeched the Brickie, who was likewise buggering off, for a tow. After a half mile or so of towing, with the Crossley still not responding he stopped to check it all out, and found.........he had not replaced the dizzy cap. Gives you the shits doesn't it, how the simplest stuff groins you?
There are too many good pics to show them all, click on Helen on the left to see the rest.