Only the keen historic racing fans ventured to Noosa last weekend for the 5th Annual running of the Historic Noosa Hillclimb. As we headed off early on Saturday the weather looked anything but inviting, with the rain getting heavier the further north we progressed.
For those of you who have never been, the Noosa track is a 1.5 kilometre section of the old Noosa-Cooroy Road which winds its way up through the Tewantin State Forest. The course rises some 45 metres in this distance, and offers a tremendous variety of corners to test both man (or woman) and machine. While challenging to drive, it is also quite unforgiving, as it traverses quite steep terrain and there is usually a cliff or embankment on the left side and either a steep drop, trees or concrete blocks lining the right side. Definitely the sort of place where you do your utmost to keep it on the black stuff!
By the time we arrived the clouds were down low and the area was getting a good drenching. The first cars were away at 8:30 despite the wet track, but drivers of open cars and those on slicks were given the option of waiting for a while to see if conditions improved. After most of the field had their first wet run, the rain eased and the track dried somewhat, and most competitors were fortunate enough to get one dry run in for the day.
There was considerable discussion between officials and drivers towards the end of the day as the conditions once again deteriorated, the rain getting heavier and even low cloud at the esses before the finish line to reduce visibility even further. However, the decision was made to continue and the field completed their three runs for the day by around 5:30. There were a few more heavy showers as the afternoon progressed, and even a bit of low cloud to further hamper visibility. This was without a doubt the worst conditions I have ever tried to take photos of fast moving objects in. For the technically minded I was using Kodak Portra 800 with a Nikon FM2 and Nikkor 105 f2.5 at 1/125 second at f2.5.
Sunday dawned a bit brighter and while the surface was initially damp the rain held off and we were treated to some really exciting runs as conditions improved and some rubber was laid down. Quickest of the day was Warwick Hutchinson's RPV F4F hillclimb special with a blistering 57.77 run on his last run of the day. We found out during the day that RPV J4F stands for "Rotary Powered Vehicle Just for Fun", and with a turbo-charged 4,420cc engine I am sure that Warwick does have plenty of fun!
Around six seconds off this pace were the first of the touring and sports car brigade, with some exceptional performances by the next dozen or so runners. This group included such classics as Datsun 1600's and 240Z'z, MGA and MGB, Mazda MX5's, Porsche Turbo's and a couple of newer items like a Mitsubishi EVO 5 and two Subaru WRX STI's. What this goes to show is that you don't have to have the most current and expensive equipment to be competitive at this level of the sport.
There was of course plenty of action all the way through the classes, with the pre-war brigade, the sixties touring cars and Marque Sports being the most hotly contested classes. There were a few historic rally cars thrown in for good measure, and they certainly entertained the crowd with their oversteer and wheel lifting antics.
Overall everyone had a good weekend despite the poor conditions to start. There were a few indiscretions which resulted in some minor panel damage, but most drivers tend to err on the side of caution here because of the unforgiving nature of the trackside. The organizing clubs, the Historic Racing Car Club and the Noosa Beach Classic Car Club, continue to put a lot of work into improving spectator comfort and access, and they and Motorsport Management Services need to be congratulated for the professional way the event runs each year. We will certainly be looking forward to attending again next year.