Austraila - Postage Included

Big Banger Sports Cars to feature at Historic Sandown

There was a time in Australian motor sport when sports cars were the fastest and most spectacular cars on our circuits, even quicker than our top open wheelers. Since the 1960s and ‘70s their popularity has waned, especially with the focus shifting to V8 touring cars.

That’s all about to change. The 2015 Historic Sandown meeting on November 6-8 will feature the ‘Big Banger’ sports cars of yesteryear – a Return of the Thunder to the popular Melbourne circuit.

Many of our greatest drivers helped cultivate their skills in sports cars. Our most successful international Sir Jack Brabham was part of the Kangaroo Stable, a group of Australian enthusiasts who campaigned a team of three Aston Martin DB3s in Europe during the 1955 season. Brabham also co-drove sports cars with other greats such as Stirling Moss at the Nurburgring, and played a major role in the development of the Cooper ‘Bobtail’.

Brilliant test driver and engineer, Frank Gardner began his racing career driving a Jaguar XK120. He went on to carve out an enviable career overseas as a top flight developer of cars such as the Ford GT40, Lola T70 and Porsche’s fearsome 917 sports car. Not only a great sorter of cars, he was an outstanding driver as well with Brabham’s MRD factory in Surrey, and added the 1967 British Saloon Car Championship to his already impressive list of achievements.

Another ex-pat Aussie to achieve fame in Europe was larrikin racer Paul Hawkins. After racing Austin Healeys locally (on race tracks and public roads!), ‘Hawkeye’ quit the home front to try his luck overseas. With limited funds he did things the hard way, eventually becoming a highly sought after sports car works driver. He won the 1967 Targa Florio road race for Porsche and at various times had contracts with Ford and Ferrari. Hawkins went on to become British sports car champion in 1967 driving his privately entered Ford GT40, but sadly lost his life in a fiery accident at Oulton Park in 1969.

Five times Australian touring car champion Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan was also an outstanding sports car driver. Somehow managing to squeeze into the cockpit of a Lotus 23, he twice won the Australian Tourist Trophy (1963 and ’65) and went on to become the winner of the Australian sports car championship in 1976 behind the wheel of a Porsche Carrera.

These are just a few of Australia’s great drivers who honed their skills in sports cars. “What about Frank Matich”? I hear you ask. Yes, possibly out greatest talent who achieved his fame locally.

But his story is for another day.


0427 395 296.

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