On Sunday, 12th June I attended the last day of the two day Sydney Retro Racefest held at the Eastern Creek Raceway now more commonly known as the Sydney Motorsports Park. It was an interesting day with a drag racing event at the neighbouring strip which really didn’t compete as two different types of enthusiasts were at each one.
Day 1 of the Retro event was taken up with qualifying and then 2 races for each of the 7 categories. These ranged from F1 and F2 machines through F5000, sports cars, Group A, Formula Fords and many classics. Along side the racing were two factory stands from Mercedes AMG and Lotus. The Lotus area had the owners club presenting several original Elevens and a Europa.
Then there were the race equipment and magazine stands offering a wide range of performance and safety parts and mixed through them were the competitors. You always can guarantee something unusual at these events – often rare sports cars – and this day was no exception. One stood out though, not a car but a jet powered go-kart!
The flame this little beast popped out was longer than the kart itself and the noise was incredible! It didn’t move during the day, I suspect that cornering would be an issue at full thrust.
The main highlight of Day 2 for many were the Group A and C cars that competed in the 1990s in Australia – early Holden Commodores, period Mustangs, Nissan GTR’s and Skylines, BMW 3 Series and many more. These were great races, however the Ford Sierra RS500s were clearly dominant. In race 3 this yellow RS500 lapped half the field in a 25 minute race!
They were spectacular on the track and in some respects had an easy day, only the Nissan GTRs kept near the pace. Other cars in the race included Ford Escort RS2000s, Toyota Corollas and even a non-Walkinshaw Jaguar XJS HE.
This struggled during the races against the big boys but held its own against the European cars other that the Sierras dicing with the BMWs, a Volvo and a couple of Japanese entrants.
Next up came the muscle cars – the big brutes: Ford Mustangs and local GTs, a few Chevys and a Plymouth plus locally built Valiants. To mix it up, there were also Alfas and a Ford Capri (euro version) as well.
What I really liked about these cars and really all the racing was the fact that there were no electronic aids to help the drivers. This was simple racing at its best: a powerful motor, lightweight body and four patches of rubber to keep balanced!
I could imagine these cars being raced hard in their heyday!
There was also a mix of F1, F2 and F5000 cars competing. What I found fascinating was the Ferrari F156/85 being thrown around with a wide range of vehicles and it was not taking it easy!
I liked the fact that there were a number of late 1960s endurance racers there and this Chevron B19 was a good example, despite being built several years later by a new owner of the factory. It was in great condition and sounded fabulous!
Towards the end of the day were the smaller cars in separate categories and these included several more Volvos, a TVR 2500M, a Marcos, Austin Healeys and even a Broadspeed Mini (basically a Mini coupe before BMW did one). I did find a beautiful Renault Alpine and a couple of low volume cars: a GTM from Stellenbosch in South Africa, a Bacchus and a Cheetah from Australia.
It was a day of motoring pleasure and a throwback to some of the classics of prior decades. Many of the competitors had driven there – they were registered on historic plates and this was a surprise to see. I was expecting them to be on trailers, however a support car was with them with the tools and spares that may have been needed over the weekend.
At the back of the circuit, several sports car and social clubs had displays – plenty of Cobras (real and replicas) as well as more Ferraris and US muscle. Even the local Holden Torana club was out in force. It was an interesting mix – and then there was the car park … a few gems hidden away, but out for a day’s enjoyment.
Al in all it was a great day out, lots of fabulous machines, the smell of racing fuels and oils and a lot of hard racing in cars that some would cosset away. They were all meant to be used hard and the Retro Racefest was a day to do just that, on a warm and sunny Sunday.
More photos can be found in my Instagram Gallery.