Over the years I’ve been to see many different motorsport events held in South Australia, Victoria and even overseas such as Rally of New Zealand (WRC event, twice) and San Remo Rally (WRC event) .
Waikerie Riverland 400
These in initial forays started when my mate Tom and I used to drive out to offroad events such as the Riverland 400 near Waikerie, part of the Australian Offroad Championship which comprised several different classes of cars from buggies, to 4WDs, Porsches jacked up to the nines!
1989 Riverland 400 Waikerie
The Truro and Wirrina Rallysprints in the 1980’s was another popular event which created the term “true enthusiast” when you would be sitting on the side of a very steep valley in horizontal rain. One of the strangest creations to compete in the Wirrina Rallysprint series was the Dazda, followed by the Mazuba, a Subaru/Mazda R100/Datsun hybrid….a bloody quick little beast. Wirrina presented the arm out horn blared antics of Dick Manning in his Ford Falcon. Wirrina also hosted the opening stage one year for the Australian Off Road Safari. One year we visited the Pines Enduro at Millicent in the State’s South East, but other short course events have included the Carey Gully Short Course, Gawler Short Course and Currency Creek Short Course as well as mud sprints at Currency Creek.
1985 Truro Rallysprint
1989 Wirrina Rallysprint
Off road short courses and mud sprints
Rallies have always been a favourite especially during the 1980’s when South Australia ran the Festival State Rally which was part of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC). This led to my interest in Subarus and my wife and I would eventually own 5 of them over the years. When South Australia lost its round of the ARC there were several local SA rallies including Robertstown (Walky 100), Kuitpo Forest (Rallysprint), Southern Rally to watch.
2007 Robertstown Rally South Australian Rally Championship round
2004 Clare Valley Rally
Kuitpo Rally in 2000 and 2002
1989 Festival State Rally 1991 Festival State Rally
However after much lobbying Bob Whyatt managed to secure back a South Australian round of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC), the Rally of SA run to be run in Mt. Crawford Forest and surrounds…onya Bob! Other ARC events I have visited in the past included Rally of Melbourne in 1999 and 2000, and the Asia Pacific Rally Championship round Rally of Canberra in 2001. The long standing rivalry between Possum Bourne (Subaru…RIP) and Neil Bates (Toyota Corolla) brought the crowds out.
Festival State Rally of SA, early days of Possum Bourne v Neil Bates
I haven’t made it to the Rally Australia (round of the WRC) as I had heard the event may have be a little overmarshalled and spectators end up too far from the action. Plus the red West Australian dust coating camera gear, hair and in the mouth doesn’t appeal that much. Instead my wife and I and couple of mates have been over the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand and seen the WRC Rally of New Zealand in 2003 and 2005 using an organised and WRC sanctioned rally tour run by Greg Paul and his trusty team. A bit pricey perhaps but the convenience of getting to see 3-4 stages a day without the hassle of driving and with like minded people is worth it. However, the Australian rally itself in relocated to the Tweed Valley was a bit of a PR nightmare with ‘hippies and greenies’ throwing rocks at spectators and bogus yellow marshall flags being used to confuse drivers. As a result the event has relocated again, and from 2010 it has been around Coffs Harbour, the site of the very popular Southern Cross Rallies of the 1970’s.
Rally of New Zealand 2003 – Hyundai World Rally Car
One of the best things my wife and I did while overseas in 2001 was go and see the WRC San Remo Rally run in the mountains north of the coastal resort town of San Remo in Italy (now Italy’s round is on the island of Sardinia on gravel…pity!). Our whole 10 week holiday in Europe revolved around this one day of the rally. As France did not sell maps of regional Italy it was a challenge to find where the stages were going to be run and what was feasible as we were at that stage staying in France, near Nice. It was at this rally we saw the potential of one Sebastien Loeb when after already winning the JWRC he was rewarded by Citroen and given a WRC car to drive in San Remo. He finished 2nd outright in very challenging (heavy rain on Day 2) conditions and we said “this guy will be a future world champ one day”….well, 9 championships later we were definitely right!
Rally of Canberra 2001
Subaru on the 2001 San Remo Rally WRC
Other motorsport of interest have of course included the Australian Grand Prix when it was run in Adelaide for 10 years, 1986-1995, and only ever the Fridays as they offered the best value for money seeing the GP cars twice and a great field of support races. The track they used is so ideal for a street circuit that it is still being used (well most of it) for the highly popular and successful Clipsal 500 Adelaide V8 races. For one year the track hosted a round of a World Le Mans 6 hour series. Adelaide certainly has a knack of turning out some well run events with so little!
Ayrton Senna, Adelaide Grand Prix
Other major motorsport events of interest have been hillclimbs and the numerous Classic Adelaide tarmac rallies, the latter sadly winding up in 2009 when the organiser nicked off with the entrants money, it has also been rumoured to have been stolen by Victoria…that wouldn’t be the first time Victoria has stolen a big motorsport event from South Australia! However the Classic Adelaide was revived for the Adelaide Motorsport Festival run in conjunction with the Victoria Park Sprints on a section of the Clipsal/Grand Prix circuit.
1999 Classic Adelaide, Fox Creek stage
2008 Classic Adelaide, Corkscrew stage
Collingrove Hillclimb track is a short course near Angaston run by the Sporting Car Club where many car clubs, including my club, the WRX Impreza Owners Club of SA (WRXSA) competes. Since 2006 there has been another great hillclimb event emerge at Mt. Gambier where the tarmac track climbs out of an extinct volcano. The Legend of the Lakes has now been run for many years and attracts a strong local field, such as Gazzard and Mackrell as well as many drivers heading down from Adelaide and from Victoria. The field usually comprises over 100 cars/drivers.
The Mount Alma Mile hillclimb event has been for several years also (since 2009) in the Inman Valley area just north west of Victor Harbor in South Australia and it also attracts a strong field of over 100 drivers. The event culminates on Day 2 with a Top 10 shootout which is whittled down to Top 6 and then Top 3, until the fastest driver is declared.
The Willunga Hillclimb is a relatively new hillclimb event run by the Ultimate Motorsports Events organisation. I utilises the Old Willunga Road between the historic township of Willunga and Willunga Hill using the newer Adelaide-Victor Harbour Road for the entrants to descend the hill again for their next run up.
Sean Day of S and J Automotive (my Rexy’s car doctor) at the Legend of the Lakes hillclimb at Mount Gambier, South Australia