Sunday, 1st December was our club’s annual Christmas barbeque at Thornton Park was paired with a calm, sunny and temperate summer’s day…for precisely 30 seconds!
With my Spider safely (and cleanly) tucked away in the garage, I set off to meet Dom and others to help setup and get the barbeque going for breakfast. I arrived to see Thomas holding his umbrella next to Dom in a futile attempt to fight 40km/h winds to avoid the sideways rain drenching them both over the barbeque. Great! I’ll fire up the other one with the Moka pot to get some coffee going! Ninety very wet and windy minutes later we enjoyed our first coffee and promptly decided to relocate our base to a less swampy area.
Soon it was midday and many fellow Scuderisti began arriving with salads and desserts – we very quickly filled one half of the main pavilion with food, smiles and laughs, delicious rocky road and the Tarantella courtesy of DJ Zollo. The barbeque area, which I like to call the ‘engine room’, was awash with Scuderisti helping Dom and I cook delicious Italian Pork sausages, chicken sausages, scotch fillets and chicken burger patties.
Despite having to cook with one hand and hold down the marque with the other, the cooking team did a stellar job feeding the troops with plenty leftovers. The best part is we all enjoyed each other’s company and take home a nice Italian Panettone for the festive season.
Motorclassica is the annual Australian International Concours d’Elegance & Classic Motor Show held at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne over the October 11th to 13th weekend. Since 2010 the event has welcomed over 20,000 visitors each year to enjoy a display of over 500 vehicles, fine food and wine, cinema, educational displays and more than 100 trade exhibitors.
Club stalwarts, Maria and Dom Lepro, make the annual pilgrimage across the A8 (Dukes and Western Highways) to attend this amazing event. Since I was scheduled to be ‘back home’ that weekend we decided to make an event of it – Friday afternoon I picked the kids up from school, Ariana from work and met up with Dom and Maria for my first Motorclassica.
Boy did I pick a good year to start this new pilgrimage! Each year celebrates one or more marques to commemorate a common milestone. This year paid tributes to Bentley, Alvis, Citroen, Mini, Japanese Sports Cars and – of course – Abarth.
“The Iron Ladies” celebrated 100 years of Bentley – specifically those built by Walter Owen Bentley over twelve-year period before the brand merged. These ‘WO Bentleys’ were driven to victory at Le Mans 24 hours in 1928 by Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin – who was born in Carlton, not too far from the Exhibition Buildings.
“Joyeux Anniversaire Mon Ami” celebrated 100 years of Citroën. Founded by French industrialist Andre-Gustave Citroën in 1919, this iconic brand became the first European mass-produced car producing at a rate of 100 cars/day within its first year.
“The Giant Slayers” celebrated the 60th anniversary of Mini. The Morris Mini-Minor debuted on August 29th 1959. The economical two door cars were targeted towards a family of four and became an instant hit through their innovative packaging and entertaining go-kart like driving dynamics (sound familiar?). In 1961, John Cooper spearheaded the release of 1000 units featuring an enlarged engine, taking displacement right up to a full 1.0 litre pumping out 55hp. Undoubtedly this was a car inspired by other, similar such vehicles such as the iconic FIAT 500, launched as ‘The Cinquecento’ back in July 1957.
“A Sting in the Tail” was Motorclassica’s celebration of Abarth’s 70th anniversary. Starting as an apprentice in a motorcycle factory, Carlo Abarth (Karl at the time) had a penchant for motor racing until an accident in 1939 ended his racing career. Post-war Abarth saw him settle in Merano and eventually became the Italian distributor of cars produced by his German friend – Ferdinand Porsche.
The Porsche-designed Cistalia 360 drove that company to bankruptcy in 1949. Carlo promptly bought up the assets to launch Abarth and Co. in Bologna as a modification and tuning business for many Italian vehicles. The iconic logo originated from the colours of the Merano Coat of Arms combined with his astrological birth sign. The rest is history which we Scuderisti love to celebrate.
Our time at Motorclassica was capped off with lovely, authentic Italian pizza at A25 at the top end of Hardware Lane. All in all, a lovely weekend I look forward to next year!
The 2019 Bay to Birdwood Classic was run on Sunday 29th September. While it was decided that the Club was not doing anything as a Club, I decided to enter the X1/9 as I had done two years earlier, as I was hoping to enjoy an incident free run.
Two years ago, I started to experience over-heating problems (as everyone warned me I would) as soon as we hit West Terrace, and it got worse from there with all the stop and start traffic through the city. I made it to Birdwood, but with a lot of stopping to wait for the car to cool off and many stress-free moments. I have done a lot on the car to fix the overheating problems, so I was keen see if it all worked and to enjoy the run this time.
I registered the car early (I was No. 56) and was pleased to see that the route had been changed this year so that it would not go through the city, but rather along Greenhill Road before turning left at Fullarton Road to make its way to Northeast Road.
The morning was cool and partly cloudy, with no rain forecast and an estimated maximum of around 20 degrees – perfect! I brought a friend with me (Lennie), as Anna had decided it was too stressful last time. We arrived at Barratt Reserve in West Beach at 7:00 a.m., and the grounds were already about half full. We did the usual admiring of the incredible assortment of cars for a couple of hours. Vehicles began departing at 8:30, and we finally got away at about 9:30 a.m. We heard later that there were cars leaving West Beach as late as 12:30 so we did well to get off that early.
The drive was very good through Greenhill Road and the Eastern suburbs, with only traffic light stops and some minor builds ups along the way. We even saw Dom and Maria waving to us on the median strip on Anzac Highway. The first real traffic jam we hit was on Northeast Road just before the alternate start point at Civic Park Modbury. I’m not sure if that jam was caused by the cars entering onto Northeast Road from the start point, or local traffic, but it was a significant hold up. The next jam was a few kilometres before Gumeracha, however it seemed to free up between Gumeracha and Birdwood.
We arrived at the finish at about 12:30. I am happy to say that the car performed perfectly, with no overheating whatsoever, and therefore no stress for the driver. The weather was pleasant, and there were lots of spectators lining the roads, and the drive was very enjoyable, if somewhat slower than I would have liked.
We enjoyed a lunch from one of the vans set up near the Motor Museum, and then went into the museum mainly to drool over the Bugatti Veyron. We then enjoyed some olive music that was being played on the forecourt of the Museum, before slowly making our way back to the car while checking out many of the other entrants. We left Birdwood at about 3:30 p.m. and had another pleasant drive home. I can confirm that this time, I did enjoy the experience.
The club held its pasta night at the Campania Club on Friday 26 July 2019 and it was a lovely evening enjoyed by approximately 40 members including family/friends. There were other patrons in attendance so I would estimate 250 filled the grand Benevento hall were the function was held.
There were a table of patrons celebrating an 80th birthday party and we were indirectly entertained by a female singer singing ( rather loudly) classical Napolitana songs eg O Sole Mio, Rose Rosse, Paese and O’Surdato Innammurato ( one of my favorites!)
Pasta night is a bit of a misnomer as there were other food options on offer and no one would had gone home hungry. There were the usual pasta dishes but also pizza and grilled chicken and for desert gelato and coffee.
Curiously not many members chose pasta for their main meal and many opted for pizza and the grilled chicken dish came in as a distant second choice.
The highlight of the night was to see Ken Graves tackle a large glass of affogato which took him a while to work through but he managed to finish it. I not sure if he had any sleep that night as the strong coffee content would had kept him awake through the early hours of the morning !
There was also great banter amongst our members with lots of stories told by our resident raconteurs which is most of our members as they love talking their cars, overseas trips or scouting the internet for the next car project.
The night went so quickly and we finally departed taking 3 or 4 attempts saying goodnight to each other in the traditional Italian way of wishing each other buona notte.
Club membership renewal and registration day was a great success with the majority of members turning up to rejoin.
I was kept busy stamping members’ log books and also filling out new historic registration forms. It was a good idea Frank Terminello had the previous financial year of having it at the Rezz Hotel. That way we are not run off our feet cooking a BBQ breakfast at the same time as doing members’ paperwork. Instead giving members a voucher for a complimentary coffee and muffin.
We got to see quite a few members’ cars come out for a quick run and quite a large number of us stayed back to have lunch at the Rezz. It was Pasta Sunday with 3 types of pasta, salad and garlic bread.
Arriving at the Mitcham Reserve on the Sunday morning, 31 March, at 8.30 am I was greeted by the sumptuous scent of eggs, bacon and hash browns. What came to mind were the lyrics of the 1968 Beatles song of Across the Universe which I modified using the theme of the breakfast BBQ.
Eggs are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they spread across the stainless steel plate
Pools of scrambled eggs and waves of bacon are drifting through my open mind
Possessing and caressing me. Jai guru deva!
There were about 40 members and family/friends that attended the breakfast with the MC’S Ric and Dom mastering the cooking duties and both had done a marvellous job in serving up a grand breakfast banquet.
The only disappointment was not having access to hot coffee or tea due to the council not providing electrical power from the power box so the hot water urn could not be used.
Nevertheless it was a successful morning with all enjoying the breakfast and I provided music playing the piano accordion and even Vince Augumeri played a few songs on my piano accordion which was a thrill for me to hear him play some the old Italian standards.
There were some beautiful cars on display in the car park from the classical cars of yesteryear which created some interest from the general public attending the Mitcham reserve e.g. Alfa Romeo Giulietta spider, 124 BC coupe , Fiat 124 spider , Ferrari 308 GTS to the modern cars of the Abarth 124 Spiders, Abarth 500, Alfa Romeo spider and the Fiat Freemont.
It was a lovely day out and the party came to a reluctant close by midday when some of the old boys finally dispersed having a chin wag about anything and everything.
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.