Fans of historic racing were served up a treat at the inaugural Festival of Speed on Tweed, held around the streets of the picturesque northern New South Wales town of Murwillumbah in late September. It was the culmination of years of hard work by the organising committee headed by Roger Ealand, the Rotary Club of Murwillumbah and dozens of other volunteer organizations, who, with the support of the Tweed Shire Council made the event possible.
The 1,000 metre course has a number of elements that make it one of the most challenging around. Starting from the pits and marshalling area in the local showgrounds, the course wound its way through the middle of town with nine corners and lots of change in elevation. The corners are a mixture of left and right, fast and slow (and a few off camber), so there is plenty of variety to keep the drivers on their toes and the spectators amused. The Tweed Shire Council was very co-operative and helped with circuit design and installation of safety barriers, not to mention resurfacing 1.4 kilometres of roadway and modifying traffic islands to suit.
A capacity field of 171 vehicles was entered, and the organizers decided on a different approach to classes and running order than is the norm for this type of event. The cars were divided into a small number of classes or groups, more age oriented than anything else, and ran in date order from the oldest to the newest, allowing spectators to see how performance has altered over time. The ensuing mix of vehicles certainly kept the interest up for the spectators.
Pre-war cars were well represented, with 20 entries ranging from the Steen Pedersen's 1923 Salmson GS 8 to Barry Smiths 1939 Ford V8 Special. The sixties and seventies are cars made up the vast majority of the diverse field, and there were also some rare and interesting cars in that group. Special invited guests included Sir Jack Brabham, who did some demonstration laps in his Repco Brabham BT19, the car he used to win his third World Championship.
At the end of the weekend Ty Hanger's
March Formula Pacific took the honours of the fastest lap at 41.41
seconds. However, this event was much more about the appreciation
of fine old machinery and the opportunity to see it used as it
was intended than outright performance. It was also about the
friendship and camaraderie that goes hand in hand with those involved
in the old car hobby. Preparations are already well underway for
next year's event, and further details can be obtained via the
event website at www.speedontweed.com