Italian Cars on the Island 2019

The Phillip Island Classic celebrated its 30th Anniversary this March 8-10th and as usual it was a wonderful event for lovers of classic car racing. The event attracted cars from all states of Australia, the UK, USA, NZ and SA, in excess of 450 cars entered to races scheduled over the three hectic race days. Featured cars for this year’s event included Bolwell, Elfin, Group A & C Touring Cars and as such not as many of the early race cars come over for this year’s event, however there were still plenty of them to see and hear. Full access to all areas of circuit is a great feature of the event as always, you get to see all cars / drivers you wish to see, and for $50.00 you can even do hot laps between scheduled races. The weather was picture perfect, food and amenities at the track fantastic and fellow spectators always keen for a chat.

The event begins on Thursday for Scrutineering etc. and setting up in the Pits, Friday it all starts with the daily 9.00 ‘Competitors You May Start Your Engines’ announced. Practice in the morning for all race categories and from 1.00pm racing. Friday is a great day to look in and around the Pits, the crowds are not there so you get a great look at the technology. Friday night in Cowes is also a great evening as the cars take over the main streets, Bolwell, Elfin and Group A & C race cars on trade plates lining the streets, a great buzz dining out with these cars. On Saturday and Sunday the spectators arrive in force many driving classic cars, modern wonders, including many rarely seen cars.

The event is not limited to track cars, featured cars are also on display in the Pits – BMW’s, Ford Capri’s, Ferrari, McLaren’s but to name a few. On the outside of the track there are the covered display areas and allocated club / display parking  areas these change each day for different clubs where hundreds of cars are on display. On top of all these areas are the general car parking areas with even more technology to look at.

Enough of this general talk, Italian cars were in abundance on the track and performing well. Some highlights for me were the 1985 Ferrari 156/85 in full flight with the 1500 Turbo wound up and spitting fire at each corner, in a six lap race he shot away from the field by a lap and a half in each race. It’s a tiny V6 when you see it close up with 1000+ horsepower to play with. From the UK a magnificent 1972 De Tomaso Pantera battled three Corvettes for two days and finally had the setup right on Sunday to blast away from the Corvettes. Another highlight was a one off 1963 Cooper T61M Monaco rear engine sports car from the UK with a great history [Roy Salvadori first drove it] powered by a 5 Litre Maserati as used in the Tipo 151’s. This car looked great, sounded as it should and was faster each day, it had stiff competition from the likes of John Bowe driving an Allard J2X.

Alfa Romeo’s were in abundance in many classes /events, with some well know Adelaide [Peter Axford for example] cars competing. A highlights for me included a number of the ex. Alec Mildren 105’s. They looked fantastic unmolested and presented as raced in their day. The Ferrari banner was also present in the form of the 1971 Dulon Dino LD10B from the UK. Dulon produced 200 race cars between 1967 and 1978, this was powered by a Ferrari Dino V6/2 litre engine a wedge shaped rear engine car.

From the car park and display areas there were some wonderful cars, these included:-  Alfa Romeo 6C, Fiat V8, Alfa Romeo 2600’s, Maserati, Fiat 124’s & 128’s, Ferrari 308’s, Californian but to name a few. An unusual part-Italian from WA was the fabulous 1954 Arnolt Bristol with a beautiful Bertone body in the carpark at the first bend every day of the event.

For hard racing the mighty 1972 Elfin MS7 could not be beaten, all weekend winning by a lap each day in the ‘big banger’ sports car Q&R events. In the Historic Touring Cars over 3 Litres the four Camaro’s did put on a show. In the Groups A &C Historic Touring Cars all four Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 cars with 900-1000+ horsepower were lethal [with the ex ‘Longhurst’ car in its own class] leaving Commodores, A9X’s and BMW’s [JPS] behind.

A great weekend if you can get a chance to go, lots to do.  Saturday there is a Street Market on the foreshore in Cowes with food and music for all to enjoy.