After the rainy Melbourne weather, it was a breath of fresh air to get on the sunny side of the Great Dividing Ranges and the lovely weather at Winton.
As always, a flurry of activity before the racing with cars off trailers and drivers putting the finishing touches on car preparation followed by the drivers briefing with the familiar group of officials.
My racing story is that after seeing a nice fleet of E30 racing cars outside Bell Motorsport I dropped in to see what was going on and maybe get my E46 325i serviced.
Frustrated by slow speed limits and fast speed cameras town, I had been thinking about doing track days and driving with no risk to licence. Needless to say, Jo and Graeme quickly signed me up with the BMW Drivers Club and I signed on for the sprint events.
I was looking forward Winton, as I thought this would be a great opportunity to test my skill and car on a slower more technical track.
Earlier, after torturing my Michelin Pilot Sports at the Haunted Hills and Broadford sprint days, Graeme suggested Yokohama racing tyres, to save the Michelins and do more enjoyable track work.
My car has done 200,000km and needed new front shocks to reduce vibration and the car had a lot of body roll, so replaced the springs, shocks and added a hefty sway bar. I was really keen to try out the new setup at Winton as the car is driving brilliantly on the road.
Winton is a special track with short straights, sweeping corners and a few very tight corners. I was thankful for that my car is now handling well and I was able to go full throttle earlier out of corners. Interestingly my best lap times for 5 stints were all within 0.4 seconds apart.
Every session on the track put a smile on my face for a different reason, whether it was feeling harmony between the braking and throttle applications, finding the sweet line for turns 5 and 6, catching an MX5 or the raw squeal of tyres and raging noise of a supercharged Alfa Romeo working hard to overtake me out of a tight corner with the sounds stirring my petrol head soul.
As always, I looked forward to hanging out with the BMWDCM “family” as all are genuinely good people and have this enjoyable common interest. Thanks especially to Team Kertes for Paul supplying me with petrol and Rachael some useful track advice.
Rod Martin | Member #29BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
In 1992, the Targa Tasmania was run for the first time and I was smitten. What I didn’t know was that a work colleague had come third outright. I only found out a few weeks later when lazily watching the TV footage on Nine’s Wide World of Sports as it showed his BMW M5 “daily driver” flying along twisty closed public roads at what seemed like silly speeds. It was an instant addition to my “Bucket List.”
Fast forward a few decades and, following the mid-life purchase of a mint BMW Z4M Coupe a few years ago, I felt I was finally equipped with the appropriate car to take on the Targa challenge. Having family living in Mansfield, I decided that the three-day Targa High Country was a good first outing for a “newbie” as I was familiar with the roads in the area and the logistics were relatively simple.
The next question was which category to enter? I decided that it was not worthwhile to effectively destroy my classic car with roll cages and other safety modifications, just to drive in a road rally. The only two categories not requiring major modifications are the competitive TSD (time, speed, distance) category and the non-competitive Targa Tour category.
While the TSD category stirred my competitive juices and required only fitting a $500 RallySafe GPS computer, I decided the safest (and cheapest) option was to enter the Targa Tour category. An “early bird” entry fee $2,000 was enough for my daughter Emma and I to become “co-drivers” of car number T62. We also decided to support the BMWDCM and the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation to raise awareness of safe and legal motorsport. A big thank you to Jo Mawson for help with printing and to Dale at Sign Point in Lilydale for signage.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of a “Tour”. I suspected it was going to be a relatively pedestrian cruise on the closed Targa Rally roads, effectively sweeping them for the “real” competition road rally cars to follow. I was wrong!
The Targa Tour category is open to any vehicle and does not require any modifications. All we needed were current driver’s licenses, a roadworthy car, CAMS L2S licenses and an intimidating first aid kit with emergency triangles and “kitty litter” for any oil spills.
The Tour cars are grouped into “packets” throughout the Targa. Each packet contains about six to eight cars, which run behind a “Packet Leader” in a separate vehicle, which is fitted with a RallySafe GPS computer and is in radio contact with Targa Rally Control. The packet leaders are experienced road and rally drivers. Their task was to lead each packet of cars at high speed through the closed-road rally course and ensure that we travel safely between each stage on open public roads without attracting the attention of the Victoria Police.
Our packet comprised a former rally-car Porsche 944S2, three HSV Commodores ranging from 317 to 427 kW, a BMW E46 M3 SMG, a Mercedes E220d and us in a BMW Z4M Coupe. Other packets included a posse of Porsches, a plague of Lotuses, a herd of V8 Mustangs and a particularly swift group comprising a Ferrari, a new Nissan GTR, and a few other outrageously expensive toys. We were all followed by a packet including a beautifully restored Mini Cooper S and a Peugeot 205 GTI.
Having completed all the preliminaries of scrutineering and driver briefings we settled down for a very cool evening in the Mount Buller alpine village in preparation for a 7am muster the following morning.
We were greeted with a bright clear morning of sub-zero temperatures and about 50 teams of drivers happily observing the “ankles to cuff” clothing requirements while being breathalysed for zero blood alcohol prior to the start.
Each of the three days started with a 6.76 km stage downhill from Mount Buller to Mirimbah at the bottom of the mountain. This was our first experience of using both sides of the closed road. The ability to apex corners in both left and right turns was a thrill. Our packet leader, in a lightly race-prepared Golf R, set a pace which we could barely match given our inexperience and desire to preserve our much loved machinery. This was definitely NOT a cruise-day drive and I was blessing the team at BMW who fitted E46 CSL brakes to the Z4M.
The 8.26km second stage and 10.52km third stage were conducted on the Eildon-Jamieson Road. This is a twisty monster of a road well known to participants on BMW drive days. We were grateful for the 29km transport section between the stages to get adrenalin levels and heart rates back to near normal. The fourth stage of the morning was a fast 10.38km run near Alexandra, which delivered us to a much-needed break at the Lake Eildon picnic ground.
After a very tasty lunch provided by the Targa organisers, the afternoon comprised four stages basically the same as the morning, but in reverse direction. Weirdly, the reverse direction didn’t equate to familiarity as the “open corners” became “closed and tightening” and fatigue eroded confidence. The final stage was an 18.29km blast up Mount Buller from Sawmill Settlement. It is a road familiar to anyone in an SUV who likes skiing or snow boarding. The elite racing categories completed it in close to nine and a half minutes. We took a little longer, but much quicker than I had ever thought possible.
Day One was a total of 83.5km on eight closed road stages with a total 349km driven in the day.
Day two of the Targa comprised another eight stages with six of them taking the cars out to the north of Mansfield towards Whitfield and a welcome lunch break at the Pizzini Winery. Frustratingly all teams were required to remain at zero blood alcohol so the winery lunch was a very sober affair.
The final Targa stage of day two was a street circuit held in the middle of Mansfield. We actually got to drive past my parent’s old house in Hunter Street at well over the 50kph speed limit and only slightly airborne. This stage was followed by the “Targafest” street festival. Here all competitor cars were displayed in the main street and the locals held a carnival while we sought coffee and a cool place to relax.
An evening transport stage back up the mountain was a tense journey being watchful of both wandering wildlife and the speed-enforcing police. Many competitors were able to have a “quiet meal” in the Mount Buller village being able to walk back to their accommodation (but mindful of the early morning breathalyzer!)
Day 2 covered 72.2km in eight competitive stages and a total of 233km driven in the day.
The final day of the Targa High Country 2018 was always destined to be a marathon. Only four competitive stages, but some real whoppers! As always we started with the quick 6.76km stage down the mountain to Mirimbah, which cleared the cobwebs and warmed the tyres.
The real monster of the day was found by returning to the Eildon-Jamieson Road. This time the stage ran for 48.77 tortuous kilometres of twisting, climbing and diving bitumen. A couple of the Porches and a Lotus decided that “Touring” didn’t required staying on the road and the lunch break in Eildon was extended to allow retrieval of these “sightseers” with a flatbed tow truck.
Thus warned, the Tour group tackled the reverse journey on the same road with a little more respect and some morbid curiosity to see where other had been less careful. These two marathon stages left everyone exhausted and a bit wary as we approached our final run up the mountain from Sawmill Settlement.
The final Mount Buller stage was a celebration of the three days of apex hunting, tyre burning and brake frying thrills. Most drivers had secretly timed themselves on the previous run up the mountain so set themselves the challenge to do better in the finale.
As we shot off up the mountain weaving across both lanes, every part of our Targa experience came together. A series of tight and fast hairpin bends at the summit saw us drifting across the finish line to wild applause from the waiting crowd. Medals and beers followed with many promises to ‘see you next year!’
Day three comprised 113km in four stages over a total of 273kms in the day.
As newbie Targarians we safety completed 268.7km of closed road ‘touring’ in three days. Apart from fuel, entry and accommodation costs, I will need two new rear tyres, some fresh brake pads and about 500ml of lemon juice to get the smile off my face.
Ewen McConchie | Member #70
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
Well what can I say after a fantastic day out with the club and its members.
The display was very well organised by the BMWDCM committee (Jo Mawson, Greame Bell, Lawrence Glynn and the rest of the team).
The day was a fantastic family orientated day and felt very welcome to have the car on display as well as feeling very welcome and friendly in the club as a financial member.
Both children and I had a ball on the day and enjoyed chatting amongst the club members as well as watching the car racing and cars on the skid pan.
We loved the atmosphere of the display cars and the variety of cars that were there on the day both from BMWDCM and other clubs that were present on the day.
Geelong revival committee had all classes and vehicles covered from racing cars, open wheelers to motorbikes, historic vehicles, fashion parades as well as different food Van's to wet your appetite.
If you are not a financial member, I suggest joining up to an awesome club with even better people with a passion of driving cars. You won’t be disappointed in a fantastic club that goes beyond means to keep club members happy in a fantastic family friendly environment.
We will be coming along to Geelong revival again to display my car, as well as other club runs and highly suggest other members to come along to a fantastic day.
Hoping to see other members around.
Joel Robin | Member #41BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
Virtual reality is increasingly finding use in BMW Group production. A few months before production of the new BMW 3 Series ramped up in Munich, BMW Group planners have completely laid out individual workstations in a virtual world. This includes cockpit preassembly, for example, where the cockpit is put together before being installed in the vehicle. For the first time, building, systems, logistics and assembly planners, together with production employees, were able to assess the whole of the new production area in virtual reality and test new procedures in 3D.
Matthias Schindler, responsible for Virtual Planning and Implementation in Production at the BMW Group: “Virtual reality technology has enabled us to set up cockpit preassembly workstations quickly and efficiently. Time-consuming trial installations that replicate the workstation in its actual dimensions were no longer needed. And the fact that all the specialists involved – from logistics experts to systems planners to production employees – were easily able to exchange ideas in the early stages was an important added benefit for the team. We were more transparent, more flexible and faster overall.”
Production of the existing cockpit continued during preparations without any constraints, since planning only took up space in the virtual world. Being able to work with the same data and software also saved specialist departments and production staff a lot of time. Because it is so easy to use, experts were able to assess how much space the new system needed, for example, quickly and easily and incorporate production employees’ know-how in planning from the beginning. Following a brief introduction and without any specialised knowledge, the team of representatives from different specialist areas was able to launch the project immediately. The software handles complex calculations for real-time rendering of all objects in virtual-reality glasses and simulations.
The basis for this kind of planning is digitalised 3D factory data. For the past several years, the BMW Group has been capturing the real structures of its plants in digital form with millimetre accuracy, using special 3D scanners and high-resolution cameras. This creates a three-dimensional image of production in the form of a so-called cloud diagram. Time-consuming, digital reconstruction of real structures and manual recording on site are no longer needed. Whether planning future workplaces or entire assembly halls, BMW Group departments can now combine existing data with a virtual "library" of shelves, lattice boxes, small load carriers and around 50 other widely-used operating resources.
BMW PRESS CLUB
The chequered flag drops to end another championship and the mighty E30 M3 has bagged another touring car title, 31 years after its first and very successful launch year of 1987. The gulf in budgets means that those fake newspaper front pages the drivers so proudly display from the podium at places like Bathurst, would more likely resemble a ransom note made from cut up newspaper headlines glued back together again from my budget constraints than the perfectly printed examples of self-promotion the media departments of those professional teams so spontaneously produce. For me, I’d be happy with the former as long as they spelt my name right.
“Towe wins championship” is not something anyone typed too often I would imagine.
I have competed in the championship for the now “Historic” classified Group A Touring Cars for 16 years now and have managed to win it twice in that time. The first time was in 2004 in the ex Tony Longhurst JPS Team BMW M3 in a championship which was then decided on one race meeting but the interest and professionalism of the category; now competing as “Heritage Touring Cars” which incorporates genuine Group A Touring Cars which were the main touring car category around the world from 1984-92 and Australian Group C Touring Cars (73-84) as well, has risen to a championship which is decided over 5 rounds spanning most of the year. A change of car to the later built ex Richards/Longhurst M3 which was the last car built by Frank Gardner’s JPS Team at the team HQ in Terry Hills NSW in 1987 reaped rewards for me. The car still uses the same spec motor the brilliant 2302cc, S14 twin cam, four cylinder screamer but the shell is 20kgs lighter and has newer suspension components that were homologated that year make it a better package overall. We regularly beat the Walkinshaw Commodores, Falcon and Torana V8s at many circuits through the M3’s balance of power, braking and handling.
The car is in very original condition with the only real changes from how it was when it took 4th outright at the Bathurst 1000 in 1987 being the fuel cell had to be replaced due to its’ age and the ECU has been updated to a Haltech PS100 because no one had the technology to tune the old ECU these days. Still running the Getrag 265 that it ran all those years ago and the same wheel rims too the car is little changed from those glory days of 1987 and then when the legend Peter Brock ran it in 1988.
Heritage Touring Cars was the first category to officially compete at The Bend Motorsport Park, the spectacular new track in South Australia where we had mixed fortunes over the weekend. It was the first round of the championship and the infield had not had chance regenerate so the howling southerly wind whipped up a fierce dust storm covering the track so badly that you couldn’t see the apexes until you were just about on top of them. I managed to not qualify due to an electrical gremlin which was easily fixed back in the pits and then went onto take 4th after starting from the rear of the grid, second in the next race and sadly DNF the third race putting me out of the rest of the meeting with a spun bearing in the engine. It showed me that I had built a fast engine and The Bend is a place I really want to compete at again.
The second round of the championship was at the rescheduled Muscle Car Masters meeting at Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek where we again had mixed fortunes. We managed to take another podium at a “muscle car” meeting, third outright in a rain hit final race but at the expense of yet another engine. This time there was a slapping noise from number two cylinder and upon stripping it down we discovered deep score marks in the piston and bore. Sadly this was discovered the day we were loading to go to Morgan Park in Warwick for round three so we had to pull out and set our sights on building the third engine for the year.
Round four took us across Bass Strait to a gem of a track called Baskerville near Hobart and a reuniting with former BMWDCNSW club member David Hall who became part of the crew for the weened. The smoothest meeting of the year saw us qualify 2nd and take 3 podiums including a race win from the 4 races held over the weekend. The tight, twisty nature of the track nullified the horsepower advantage the VL Walkinshaw Commodores and the turbo Sierras normally have over us allowing us to compete for outright placings in each race. During a personal photoshoot the day after the meeting, idiot me broke my beautiful Huon Pine trophy by allowing it to slide off the highly polished roof of the M3 smashing into 3 pieces on the main straight. Lesson learned there.
Now with a handy lead thanks to the massive points haul from Baskerville we set our sights on the less desirable horsepower heaven of Sandown in Melbourne for the last round. The surprise non entry by the ex Bob Holden Toyota Sprinter for the final round meant that we were pretty much assured of the title with the ex Garry Wilmington Jag XJS only a mathematical chance of beating us. After race 2 for the weekend where we took 4th outright the Jag’s challenge was now ended and we secured the Heritage Touring Cars “Peter Brock Trophy” for Group A Touring Cars, an achievement I’m immensely proud of.
Throughout this article you may have noticed me using the term “we” instead of “I”, that’s because although I’m the nut behind the wheel of the car, I simply couldn’t do it on my own. I have family and a few mates who work as my pit crew for each round and their help is invaluable to a season long challenge.
I need to acknowledge the help of a couple of long term BMWDC (NSW) members/sponsors whose knowledge and professionalism assisted greatly. Nick Peak from Peak Performance for his problem solving skills and advice, Andrew Schmitt from ALS Performance who has helped with parts and advice and a few of sponsors who’ve been supporting me for many years now, ADG Welding Supplies in St. Mary’s, Gearbox Express in Ingleburn and Peninsula BM in Melbourne for parts and last but not least my own employees at E.S.S. Garage Doors who keep the business running when I’m competing.
For the launch of the new BMW X5 (fuel consumption combined: 11.6 – 6.0 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 264 – 158 g/km; provisional figures), BMW Italy has created an undertaking like no other: bringing the iconic bends of Monza into the secular sand of the Sahara. The historic Monza circuit was reproduced in Merzouga, in one of the most desert areas of Morocco: a route of 5,793 meters that stands out among the sands and rocks of the Sahara. Every bend, every straight section, every chicane has been faithfully reconstructed on a 1:1 scale, both in the radius of curvature and in the distances.
For two weeks, more than 50 people including engineers, surveyors, technicians, workers and pilots have worked and contributed to realize this incredible project. It took 4 days of study and preparation with surveyors, engineers and architects, with 8 post for topographic design and simulation. For 9 days, 4 bulldozers and 4 trucks dug 24 cubic meters at a time to prepare the soil and remove excess sand; while 2 graders and 2 compactors have defined and compacted the track. Over 3500 cubic meters of earth have been moved to give life to the off-road track.
A monumental work that culminates in an unprecedented challenge: the new BMW X5, after having crossed Europe on a journey in stages, has reached the circuit of "Monza, Sahara" in the impervious Moroccan desert where, in the dunes of sand and rocks, has challenged one of the most hostile terrain on the planet and faced Lesmo, Ascari and Parabolica, giving evidence of its off-road ability, thanks to the new xOffroad package, which makes its debut on this model. The new BMW X5 was welcomed in Morocco by the new BMW R 1250 GS, the enduro motorcycle par excellence of BMW Motorrad, recently renovated with a new boxer engine, which was the forerunner in this undertaking.
The new BMW X5: the xOffroad package is an absolute news.
The BMW X family originated from the BMW X5 and today, in its fourth generation, this model stands out as it has never done before, both in terms of aesthetics and its modernity. The new BMW X5 impresses with its wealth of innovations and represents the most convincing incarnation to date of the familiar Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) model: the ability to venture off-road perfectly combined with the pleasure of dynamic driving. Like its predecessors, the BMW X5 will be built at the Spartanburg BMW plant in the United States. The launch on the Italian market will be on 24 and 25 November 2018.
The new design of the Bavarian SAV enhances safety and solidity, conferred by the bigger dimensions, if compared to its predecessor, that contribute to the impressive appearance and an enviable interior space. The new BMW X5 maintains the typical proportions of a SAV, clean surfaces and precise lines that accentuate the robustness, safety and grandeur of the car. Even the interiors, cared for in every detail, are characterized by a modern design and an exclusive atmosphere.
The new chassis systems improve the off-road performance, sportiness and comfort of the new BMW X5. The SAV is equipped as standard with Dynamic Damper Control while the Adaptive M Professional suspension with active anti-roll stabilization and Integral Active Steering (making its debut in a BMW X model) guarantee extremely agile and dynamic driving characteristics. The air suspension of the two axles satisfies those looking for maximum driving comfort and allows the vehicle height to be adjusted by 80 millimetres by pressing a button or using the BMW Display Key.
An absolute novelty for the model is the possibility for customers to choose the xOffroad package. A specific button gives the driver the choice between four off-road driving modes (xSand, xRocks, xGravel, xSnow), which automatically determine the ideal vehicle height settings, xDrive system, acceleration response and transmission control, and corrective inputs of the DSC system when you need to drive on sand, rocks, gravel or snow.
For all information on the project and the new BMW X5, visit www.bmw.it/x5.
The core of the BMW M4 DTM modified to meet Class 1 regulations is the newly developed and extremely efficient two-litre turbo engine. The cooling system was also modified for the new unit. The regulations provide for changes in some areas of the aerodynamics in addition. BMW M Motorsport used the test in Portugal to evaluate these innovations on the racetrack for the first time, thereby gathering important information for further preparations for the upcoming season.
“The initial test days with the new BMW M4 DTM with a turbo engine were so much fun,” said Spengler. “It is also very interesting for us as drivers to be involved in the development of a new DTM racing car. I have been driving DTM cars with V8 engines for 14 years, and this was the first time that I’ve been on the racetrack with a four-cylinder turbo engine. This is totally new to me and is so much fun. The car feels great and I am looking forward to the next tests.”
“The car feels really cool when you’re driving it and it is so much fun,” confirmed Wittmann. “You really can feel the performance and the torque of the new engine and the modified aerodynamics mean that the car behaves differently. I’m overwhelmingly positive after the initial test and I think that the fans really have something to look forward to. From the outside you can clearly tell that the cars are much faster than last year. This will definitely make for more of a spectacle. And I can reassure the fans: the sound remains as great as ever. Personally, I prefer it to the previous engines. It sounds a little different, but it is neither quiet nor bad. I like it and I think that the fans will as well. The changes to the cars for 2019 are definitely positive, and I enjoyed being in the car for the initial test and preparing the car for the season with the engineers and mechanics.”
The next test drives with the new BMW M4 DTM are scheduled for 10th and 11th December at Jerez, Spain.
It was an interesting night - two police members brought their "beach theme" coloured Highway Patrol BMW 530d.
We had Leading Senior Constable Mick McGill and Acting Sergeant Heather Allen (who occasionally can be seen on television in Highway Patrol). They were more than happy to have club members drool and crawl all over their BMW. Many took the opportunity to try it on for size and have photos taken in the driver's seat.
They gave an interesting presentation encompassing the many fantastic features of the beast. Also shared the information that cars in the fleet are being replaced as they reach their "use by date", rather than a blanket replacement of vehicles.
We were also given insight into some of the new road laws as well as penalties to be incurred for breaching these, explaining about sliding scales, first offences and other variables.
Blue Ribbon Foundation had merchandise available, with The President of the Peninsula Branch explaining the concept behind the charity - it being all about raising funds through merchandise sales, donations and events - the money being raised used to provide facilities and equipment for hospitals. These then perpetuate and commemorate members of Victoria Police who have died in the line of duty.
Shannon's had a light supper of sandwiches and pizza for us to graze on, and the rather hip combi van fridge was stocked with drinks.
Liga Smith | Member #160 BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
An enthusiastic group of BMWDCM members attended on the Saturday qualifying and events sessions of this year’s VHRR Sandown Historics race meeting. We had access to the area known locally as Red Hill which gave us an excellent viewing position. Red Hill is adjacent to the Penrite Bridge which the race cars pass under when coming out of Dandenong Road Corner into the esses ahead of the main straight. From this vantage point you can see most of the track, and due to its elevated position, there are not many obstructions either.
Prior to arriving at the Sandown Circuit, we had assembled at a nearby hotel car park. We shared this meeting point with several other car clubs who had some magnificent machinery of their own – plenty of 60’s & 70’s Toranas (including some in replica war paint from the period), Mustangs old and new, some early 60’s Holden sedans and ute and 2 very exotic Prince Gloria sedans. Quite a sight, and we hadn’t even got to the track yet! Once we were credentialled and sorted by our intrepid leader, Lawrence Glynn, the BMWDCM convoy headed off to the circuit.
We shared Red Hill with yet more historic and significant club cars, including early Toyota Celicas, a Studebaker Golden Hawk, a couple of Oldsmobiles, early Ford Cortinas and yet more Toranas & Holdens. You could spend a day just drooling over the machines in this car park, never mind those on the track. This is a really pleasing aspect of these events, with each car club happy to show off their cars and socialise with anyone who is interested.
The early track events on the Saturday were practice and qualifying laps for each of the 21 classes for cars entered for the event. That sounds like a lot of racing and a lot of cars – and it is. There were 346 entries for this 2-day event, and although not all of them made it onto the track, most did. Some races included 2 or more classes, in particular the Group A and C Touring Cars 80’s and the earlier Big Bangers. But every class and race had its standout cars that many of us could remember the bygone era of our youth when motor racing was very, very big in Victoria (anyone remember the live ‘Brian’s Speed Shop’ ads when local motor racing was televised live on ATV0 ?). Sedans, Sports saloons and open types, MGs, Triumphs, open wheelers including Formulas V & Ford and the awesome Formula 5000 cars. Even some ‘Specials’ engineered and built by their privateer owners in the 50’s & 60’s. Pretty much any kind of racing car ever raced in Australia was represented on the day.
The other great feature of these events is that the pits are open to everyone on track. No special permits or extra payments needed here – just go for a walk. The atmosphere is fantastic with race drivers and crews happy to invite us punters into their garages to look over their cars and equipment. They are just as enthusiastic and proud of their cars as what we are, and many are people like us with an interest in cars and racing. No big budgets on show, no factory teams just toilers & privateers having a blast on the track.
These people should also be congratulated on how well these historic racers are presented and cared for. Some cars were championship winners in their day and still carrying their original signage and liveries (from an era when smoking was fashionable and tobacco advertising was amusing). Walking around the pits was a very nostalgic experience for me as when I was a child we lived in nearby Springvale and I was a frequent visitor (sometimes un-invited) to the Sandown track and to the old pits near the dam. We found openings in the fence when our pocket money had run out, and we would sneak into the pits from the trailer park that used to be behind the old pits. At least on Saturday I was a legitimate visitor so didn’t have to look over my shoulder too much!
The on-track entertainment was first class, with plenty of noise, great driving and just a few mishaps. There is something almost magical hearing V8s and the high revving turbos screaming around, and nothing beats a Formula 5000. Thanks to Alfredo Costanzo & his mates for developing this class in the 70’s and still running them around today. They make the ground shake as they pass by at speed. It’s amazing what you get out of the humble GMH 308 V8 when its attached only to a couple of rails, a seat and a wheel on each corner.
A great day of nostalgia, head to head hard racing and awesome machines and people. I can thoroughly recommend this event to everyone for next year. The Sandown Circuit itself has a significant place in our history. It is believed that Sandown hosted the very first official car race in Australia in 1904. The area was initially established in 1888 as a horse racing track named Oakleigh Park. It changed name in 1892 to Sandown Park in honour of a similarly named equine track in England. Sandown was shut down in 1931 due to lack of government funding. It was re-opened in 1961 for motor racing, largely on the current circuit layout although the pits have since moved to the current location (at a cost of $600,000 in 1982 as part of the failed alterations for international endurance sports car events! – Ed) and the Dandenong Road esses have been re-aligned as well.
To round out a great day, we surprisingly also collected an award for Best Car Club Display on Red Hill. Really this was recognition for Lawrence’s tireless work to get us organised and well presented in the first place, and for his very savvy placement of our site, bunting and tent. Well done, Lawrence.
Jim Tucker | Member #26
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
The 2018 season started off with high hopes, confidence and only 1 goal, to win the championship!
For several years I've wanted to join my brother and my dad as winners of the series. I've never had the funds to do a full season, but have always done reasonably well.
The year started as planned, winning the first round at Winton and then taking out second at Wakefield Park. From then on is where all the troubles started for me this year. In April I injured my back at work and was unable to walk properly, I was told that I couldn't drive a car or race for 3 months at a minimum. I lost all independence, which then led me to losing my job after nearly 5 years, but somehow with the help of my amazing family and friends, many doctors, physiotherapy and many appointments, I managed to only missed round 3 of the championship at Sandown. Luckily in the championship we are able to drop one round, this was it for me.
I finally got back in the car for the first time at a BMWDCM sprint day, only to get through 3 sessions before having to sit out the rest of the day from the pain. This was 2 weeks before my return to racing at Phillip Island for round 4, it was a huge step and achievement of how far I had come since the injury.
Round 4 was a massive struggle for me mentally and physically with the high loads and demands of racing, yet a big tick for moving forward and pursuing the goal which was still in the back of my mind! In trying conditions all weekend I managed 2nd for the round which was a huge achievement and success!
Round 5 was the big one, two 1 hour races at Winton, which included a driver change! With a month between events the body had a bit of time to improve again and although not all thatflash mentally and physically, Brett Dickie (my co-driver) and I managed to again bring the car home in 2nd for both races. After several minor issues throughout the weekend, we weren’t going to let anything stop us from putting the car on the podium again!
The sixth and final round came around pretty quickly on Melbourne Cup long weekend, finishing up again at Phillip Island with 3 races, including a 1 hour single driver endurance race to end the year.
We did the calculations and going into the weekend, all I had to do was finish fourth for the round and we would win the championship by 1 point. Friday practice was a typical day at the Island with heaps of rain but still some sunshine. Of course the sunshine only came out when we weren't on track but we managed to top the timesheets during the day and all was looking good. Saturday came, and we qualified fourth, then finished fourth and second in the 2 sprint races with some great battles all race with Cam Hudson! With the body struggling to cope, I was not looking forward to the final race of 1 hour Sunday morning.
I ran the season on an extremely tight budget and with a 3-yr. old engine that had been blowing smoke and down on power. We knew that the 1 hour race was going to push the engine but we gave it everything we had. Sunday morning's race came and we pushed hard for 55 minutes, holding down 3rd spot until the engine lost power, rattled and lost oil pressure. At this point I thought it was all over, I got on the radio to Dad and told him I didn't think I was going to finish. Dad encouraged me to keep going, I just needed to finish, we only had 5 minutes to go. "Just do what you can to get it across the line. Go as slow as you need" – Dad's encouragement kept me going. Somehow, I was 3/4s of a lap in front of the next few cars, so I limped the rattling car around for 2 laps hoping the engine would hold together to cross the line. These were the 2 longest laps I’ve ever done at Phillip Island and were probably the hardest of the year. Eventually on the last corner, my sister of all people, passed me and crossed the line just before I was able to, making the moment even sweeter. I HAD JUST WON THE 2018 CHAMPIONSHIP!!!! By a solitary point!!
Limping into the pits with a car and engine in about the same condition as my body was all made worth it when I saw so many of my close friends and family there all clapping, crying, popping party poppers and all dressed in t-shirts dedicated to me! A moment I will never forget for so many reasons!
There are lots of people that deserved to be thanked, but no more than my dad, Graeme Bell, this man has not only taught, encouraged and inspired me for as long as I can remember but continuously worked tirelessly to make sure I am happy on and off the track. To not only put my name on the championship trophy next to his and my brother, but to also do it in the same car he did it in 15 years ago was such an amazing achievement for me and a moment/year I’ll never forget.
For the rest of the family Jo, Jess, Sean, Jenna, Mum and Peter, I thank you for the endless love and support to get me through each day. I've been a big pain with my moods and having to rely on you all and you have all stuck by me and I couldn’t ask for a better family!
So many others have supported, encouraged and helped me through not only this years tough time, but through several years of racing and my life in general. Thank you Tania and Adrian Read, Stephen Mattingly, Brett Dickie, Joshie Williamson, Benny Grice, Jasmine Fraser, Michael Monshing, Anton Bergman, Alex Jory, Jesse Bryan, Cam Dawes, John Mina, Les Small and all the extended Bell Motorsport family!! Without everyone I wouldn’t be able to get up everyday, continue to have the strength to get better and still enjoy driving a race car and doing everyone proud.
There's so much more I could say and more people to thank but if your attention span is like mine at the moment, you will be sick of reading!
For me, this year was a success on the track but by far the toughest I’ve had personally, there is still a long road ahead for not only to be able to race at my best again but to also get my life back on track as well and hopefully when next season starts, we can be as good as ever and come back for a crack at back to back!!
Chris Bell | Member #6 - 2018 Garagistic E30 Racing Champion
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
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