I was recently reminded that AFJA news has been a bit thin on the ground in recent times, so this is a catch up on recent happenings and a reminder of what lies ahead for 2018.
The most recent event was held on the Winton long circuit during August and was conspicuous for the usual wet weather. Fortunately for me, work commitments prevented my attendance for Friday practice, as it rained all day and would have been a waste of effort.
Saturday morning wasn’t much better and qualifying was still wet. I hadn’t raced there for nearly 20 years and spent the first couple of laps remembering the scenery and managed to spin on what would have been my flying lap. After sloshing out of the mud I managed to get going again only to be presented with red flags as a result of Peter Strauss putting his Brabham Climax into the Armco at turn one. As a result, I qualified on the third row beside Danny Ciarma. We were the only 2 Juniors to qualify, although it was great to see Murray Bryden start in the first race at the rear of the grid in his Lotus 20. Fortunately for Peter Strauss, Jamie Larner was in attendance and managed to repair the rear suspension on the Brabham so that Peter could have some fun for the remainder of the weekend.
Our first race was dry and I made a good start, managing to out drag Danny on the outside to the first corner. Unfortunately for Danny, he locked up his fronts under braking, had nowhere to go on the inside and climbed over my left rear, launching his car over my roll bar with all 4 wheels off the ground. He landed on the front right, completely demolishing the corner, and so he was out for the weekend as a result. I sustained some minor body damage but was able to continue. Fortunately, neither of us was hurt and I now have lots of faith in my roll bar!! Murray came through from the rear and took maximum points for the race.
In the second race Murray had a DNF and didn’t compete in the last race so I can only imagine he was struck by gremlins of some sort. So, it was a quiet weekend from the FJ perspective, although I had some fun and enjoyed racing at Winton again after such a long break. Strangely enough, the motel we stayed in still had my old contact details in their system from 20 years ago. I couldn’t remember staying there – it was just a coincidence that I booked it. Small world!
Our next event is on the weekend of 22/23 September at Wakefield Park and is shaping up to be a good event. So far we have myself, Danny Ciarma (Jamie must have worked overtime to rebuild his car), Bill Hemming, Alan Conway, Jeff Brown, Jamie Larner and Rob Buckley. There is still plenty of room and the HSRCA will happily accept late entries (Robyn is involved in the acceptance process) so come along and have some fun. After Wakefield we have Sandown Park on November 10/11 and finally Eastern Creek (aka SMSP) on December 1 and 2.
The three year celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Formula Junior has seen grids from several continents and dozens of countries cart their cars and crews for full grids to the UK, Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, America, back to the UK and Europe and now we were off to do the Baltic Sector – three races in Lithuania, Latvia and Sweden.
The Australian representatives (now there’s a frightening thought) included Marty Bullock from Perth in his ex-Roger Ealand Wren (after being crashed into at Zolder the previous week in his rapid Lotus 27), Lance Carwardine also from Perth running the Lynx borrowed from the West Australian Racing Museum, Bill Hemming (Melbourne) in the “shit it’s not an Elfin” Tojeiro, David Kent from near Sydney in another Lynx, Neil McCrudden, Perth, with a Lotus 22, John Rowe again from Perth (must be a good place to get away from) in his Lotus 18, Brian Searles – Perth again – pedalling the West Australian Museum’s Pink Panther, Kim Shearn and Peter Strauss from Melbourne in their Lotus 22 and Brabham BT6 respectively, David Watkins – yes you guessed it – from Perth with an Elfin FJ, and I think we can include Noel Woodford from NZ (but at least he was born and bred in Brisbane) who was driving Kim’s PennyFord F3.
Fortunately there were enough other teams with 2 grids of at least 20 cars, to water down the effect of this motley crew of Aussies.
As with the rest of the world tour, the Baltic Sector was organised by the tireless King of Formula Junior, Duncan Rabagliati, and his brilliant daughter Sarah who was responsible for running the events and looking after the involved humans.
BIG KAHUNAS AT KAUNAS – LITHUANIA
There really is a race circuit in the middle of Lithuania which the Russians forgot to demolish when they left about 20 years ago. Mind you, someone looks like they tried to demolish the Nemuno Ziedas Circuit, boy was it ROUGH. Great undulating layout, but boy was it ROUGH.
The European Union has been splashing money from the rich members like Britain and Germany into the poorer countries like Lithuania and Latvia to try and build the economies and have a more level trading field (which is political speak for “let’s go to the lowest common denominator”). One of their brilliant grants was to give the local car club 3 Million Euros to resurface this circuit. Surprise, surprise…the Club treasurer pocketed the money and buggered off to South America to leave the crumbling circuit “as found”.
We were given a wonderful and descriptive Driver’s Briefing and driven/shown around the track.
“Here is where you will probably crash” we were told at one uphill, blind crown that was designed to throw you into the bank.
Well after qualifying a terrific 4th, David Kent probably crashed at THE spot in race 1 when his throttle jammed. And Neil McCrudden probably also crashed in race 2 at THE spot. Both cars were seriously damaged. David stripped the Lynx and will fly the chassis back to OZ to put on his jig, make a couple of new uprights and fly it all back to England to reassemble for his Goodwood Revival gig in a couple of months. Neil took up an offer from a local bunch of enthusiasts who reckoned they could straighten his car and body to try to make it the Latvia the following week.
Meanwhile, the rest of us bounced around the bumpy bitumen and in the final race on Sunday, Marty finished an excellent 4th, Peter Strauss 6th, Lance 8th, Bill 10th and Kim “I always make a great start” 11th after stuffing up the start. David’s Elfin ceased to proceed after half a lap.
Importantly, there was an all Australian podium in the Drum Braked class with Marty, Bill and John Rowe….Aussie, Aussie, Aussie…Oui, Oui, Oui!
Despite the ROUGH surface, it was a wonderful weekend and all the foreigners were treated like royalty. Lots of TV coverage and displays of our cars in the city square.
On the way to Latvia, we all stopped off for a Gala Dinner at the Zagare Palace. Sarah The Sensational actually lives in this village and runs FJ worldwide from her home office while mothering three very busy kids. Husband Saulis is an official guide and gave us a walking tour of this historic village before we dined at the Palace. There should probably be inverted commas around the word palace, but there was nothing un-spectacular about the feast of local goodies. The night was spoilt when Bill’s wife Deb got up and made a long, tedious speech where she apologised for not going to more race meetings, and told everyone how wonderful they were and she hoped to see them more often now she has seen the appeal of our trips. Perhaps Deb has finally seen the light and will yet fulfil her destiny to become a fixture as Bill’s Brolly Bitch and Battery Bimbo.
Next day, we drove to Riga.
PENILE ‘RIGA’ MORTIS – LATVIA
After Kaunas, the Bikernieki Curcuit was SMOOTH but still a bit daunting and fast. This drivers briefing and track tour also included “many people crash at this corner” plus a series of bends “when you crash here, it will be a big one”.
As it turned out, no one crashed. The only injuries were whiplash as we turned our heads to gaze at the magnificent derrieres on the suitably clad grid girls. Who would have thought that the term “arse about face” originated in Latvia.
In Sundays main race, Marty again showed us how to do it and came 3rd, Lance 7th, Kim 10th, Peter spun his way back to 11th, Bill 15th and Neil in his hastily repaired Lotus, 16th. The Davids (Kent and Watkins) sat it out with broken cars and engines.
This time, the Drum Brake Class podium had Marty and Bill split by an American…bloody Trump’s fault. But we still got a close encounter with the grid girls. We really shouldn’t go on and on about grid girls, but after the racing, they were a highlight of Riga, along with the Riga Motor Museum which was attached to the circuit. This is a world class museum that really needed a full day for a visit. Now that was Euro grants well spent.
The last night in Riga proved interesting for our South African mate, David Innes (driving the ex Peter Boel Lola) who went out on the town and, no doubt inspired by the grid girls, was harmlessly chatting to a Latvian lass in a bar, when her boyfriend belted him over the head with a bottle. The Police arrested the bottle basher and insisted on taking the bleeding (heart and head) Innes to hospital. For some strange reason, they took him to a dentist, who stitched him up while he sat in the dentists chair. Maybe they thought he suffered from acute “foot in mouth” condition.
Then onto the overnight ferry to Sweden.
FREEZING OUR BOLLOCKS OFF AT KARLSKOGA – SWEDEN
After a couple of days sightseeing around Stockholm (1 day too long), we took off for 2 hours to Karlskoga, to the Gellerasen Arena, the oldest track in Sweden.The drivers briefing advised that start was to be by flag…except it was when the flag was raised, ie as soon as it left the starters leg. Interesting.
A very, very tight track that created polarising opinions, great surface and facilities, but a circuit where you do not want rain!
So on Sunday race day it rained…and it rained…and it rained. But at least it was bitterly cold, so David Watkins who had suffered overheating problems was able to start and drove from the back of the grid to finish 7th. Peter Strauss lunched his new gearbox on Saturday and chose not to bother half fixing it, so didn’t start. Kim broke his front suspension arm (courtesy of the rough Lithuanian track) and belly flopped into the sand trap on Saturday. A new (old spare) arm got him back on the Sunday ice-skating rink. Marty slid his way around with the Wren to finish a fine 4th. The rest of us gently managed to stay afloat. No mean feat after the Saturday evening “Herring and Schnapps” education session where singing was optional but embraced.
At the trophy presentation, Marty and Bill picked up 1st and 2nd in the Drum braked class and Marty won the the major trophy for the whole Baltic sector.
So that was it for the 3 race Baltic Series. An absolutely fabulous experience where the Host countries and people were happily supportive and the organisation abilities of Formula Junior Grand Poobah, Duncan Rabagliati shone. Except for the very last day, we were blessed with great weather and even greater racing.
Half the team were going back to the UK to join over 120 Formula Juniors at Silverstone, which is the last race of the FJ 60th Jubilee three year programme – a super successful and massive undertaking. !
No other class of historic race cars can compete with the worldwide FJ program/circus so we should look forward to fostering strong support and growth of the category in Australia. Just like Formula 5000, there is terrific scope to mount an annual Tasman Series with New Zealand to field grids of 40 plus.
So that’s enough fun for now, it’s back home to face the Bank manager.
Apologies for the lack of AFJA reports, but I have been in Europe since the middle of April (non motor sport related) and have only recently returned. Consequently, I missed both Mallala and Winton, but am now really looking forward to Morgan Park, as it has been a long time between drinks.
Mallala was attended by Kim, Bill and local member Wayne Hocking, with Wayne maximising points for the weekend because Kim left early and by the looks of things Bill was having car trouble. Unfortunately, Kim and Bill are currently in Europe racing in the final Balkans leg of the Diamond Jubilee, so I don’t have a race report to share with you.
The big news from Winton was the excellent form of Danny Ciarma in the Lynx, who managed to write a new lap record of 1:08.047. Congratulations Danny, I am looking forward to having some fun with you at Morgan Park in mid July. You can watch Danny’s record lap at the following link. https://youtu.be/Mu9IvpR9I9E
So, after three rounds our championship table now looks like this, with Danny Ciarma sitting on top. Keep it up Danny!
Wakefield Park was a great weekend with gorgeous weather about 10 degrees above average for this time of year and quite hot. Our AGM was held on the Friday evening at the Goulburn Soldier’s Club. The minutes of the AGM are enclosed, but to summarise, the status quo basically remains. Kim Shearn is President, I am still Secretary and Robyn is Treasurer. However, instead of trying to maintain 6 state representatives, which we were finding difficult, it was proposed and moved at the meeting that we form a General Committee, comprising the 3 office bearer’s above plus interested members and these comprise Rob Buckley (QLD), Danny Ciama (VIC) and John Rowe from WA. Enclosed is a photo of the team at the AGM after dinner.
No doubt you will have read the excellent “race report” compiled by Bill Hemming at Wakefield Park, a masterful composition based loosely on his observations over the weekend. No point in letting a few minor details get in the way of a good story! Also enclosed is a photo of Danny receiving the trophy for the Jim Clark Tribute Race, celebrating 50 years since his tragic accident. The HSRCA went to great lengths to arrange the tribute and the trophy was presented by Brian Caldersmith, a life long Lotus enthusiast, and he made the point of telling Danny that the hand he was about to shake had also shaken the hand of Jim Clark, so there was a nice connection there.
Danny Ciama not only showed his race skills at Wakefield but can also lay claim to being a cinematographer as well, because he took the footage from all of our onboard cameras and produced to excellent videos of our fun at Wakefield. You can view two of the races at the following links. https://youtu.be/6IUfN59n1Bo, https://youtu.be/yt2WUD1iaGI
The pointscore after round 1 looks like this:
1969 Brabham BT28
1963 MRC 22
1963 Rennmax B-1
1960 Lotus 18
1965 Brabham BT15
1961 Lotus 20/22
Round 2 is at Mallala next weekend followed by round 3 at Winton Short Circuit on May 26/27.
Congratulations again to Danny Ciama and many thanks on behalf of the AFJA for the excellent video entertainment.
I obviously missed an exciting weekend at Wakefield Park…….I asked Bill Hemming for a Report for you, and I certainly got one! Needless to say, it makes for extra exciting reading! It’s attached!
Great to see the good number of Juniors out for the first event of this year, and when they all return from Europe after the Jubilee Series, I hope we get back to seeing full grids for Formula Junior only races again. This first event proves the fun that can be had.
I hope to see you at one of the meetings very soon – I have been busy volunteering at the Comm Games since January.
All the very best,
WAKEFIELD PARK 7/8 April 2018
AFJA OLDTIMERS GET A WAKE-UP AT WAKEFIELD.
Young upstart Danny Ciarma threw down the gauntlet at the HSRCA Autumn Festival which attracted 13 starters for stand-alone FJ grids in our first FJ round for 2018.
In only his second FJ start, and his first at Wakefield Park, and a new gearbox in the ex Ian Bailey Lynx, Danny qualified 4th with a 1.11.1 sec lap, less than 1.5 seconds from our 2017 champ Noel Bryen in his super quick Renmax. The other outstanding drive was by President Kim Jong Shearn who obviously benefitted from his performance enhancing bits (Kim’s, not the Lotus’s) who posted a 1.09.7 for second place ahead of Don Thallon’s MRC.
It was then daylight back to 5th for Jeff Brown (F3 Brabham), Paul Faulkner (Lotus 18), Robert Buckley (Golford), Bill Hemming (Elfin), Dick Willis (Ausper), Norm Falkiner (Stanguellini) and Geoff Fry (Jolus). Allan Conway (F3 Brabham) stalled in the dummy grid so couldn’t post a run.
Race 1 (pre lunch on Saturday) saw Noel, Don and Danny within .4 sec throught the race and come in 1,2,3 less than half a second apart at the finish line. Great stuff!
Kim got stuck into his gear box which in turn, got stuck into 1st so he DNF’d. Other non finishers were Robert and Dick, leaving Jeff with a 4th, followed by Bill, Paul (they had a race-long dice), Norm, Geoff and Allan.
Race 2 on Saturday afternoon was the race of the meeting. Except for Noel who pulled off pole position in the dummy grid because he had a major water leak. Subsequently discovered someone didn’t put the radiator cap on properly. Noel promptly blamed Robyn – who we all know can do no wrong – so there was probably no sex happening in the Bryen quarters that night. Bill pulled off (also not in a sexual sense) on lap one with a 2 cylinder engine, as did Dick (not even any sexual connotations in his name) and Paul retired half way through the 13 lap race.
But the good news was that the retirees were treated to one fantastic spectacle!
Kim obviously had the shits starting last on the grid and drove like a man possessed to 3rd by lap 3. He also posted the fasted lap for the race.
The real excitement was up the front where Don led Danny for the first half and managed to keep him back despite Danny’s brake lock-ups and dives. Danny finally got through at the hairpin, only for Don to beautifully regain the lead with a fast undercut on turn 1. Danny maintained the pressure to recapture the lead and maintained it to the flag. Brilliant!
The only person happier than Danny was Ian Bailey who felt like a proud father.
Missing all the action was Jeff in a lonely 4th, followed by Robert, Norm, Geoff and Allan.
Bill’s Elfin, Geoff’s Jolus and Dick’s Ausper were put down with terminal engine issues, so only 9 cars fronted for Sunday mornings race 3.
Don got the jump on the start to lead Danny in what looked like a grudge match. After a few laps of super close racing, Danny took an ambitious dive on turn 2 and overcooked the exit off the track. This allowed Don to disappear into the distance and Noel ( who finally screwed his cap on properly….which was more than could be said on what he did to Robyn ) drove from last to second and Kim also passed a dusty Lynx into 3rd. Which is where they finished with Danny 4th. Jeff dropped his times to 1.10 to come in 5th, followed by Paul, Robert, Norm and Allan.
The 4th and final race on Sunday saw the surviving Juniors combine with KL and M and gave Noel his 3rd win for the Festival in front of Don, Danny, Jeff, Paul, Robert and Norm. No one knows what happened to Kim. And no one seemed to care.
All in all, another lovely, laid back Wakefield. Once the cars get back from overseas in the Diamond Jubilee events, our future is looking very exciting with new blood like Danny Ciarma and Paul Faulkner. See you at Mallala in 2 weeks!
Last year saw many of our “clan” opt for participation in the Diamond Jubilee events that continued around the world. As expected, this had a negative affect on local grids, but some really good racing occurred here, nevertheless. Congratulations to Noel Bryen who deservedly took out our major trophy, making him “Number 1″in 2018, should he so choose. It is appropriate at this point to sincerely thank Noel and of course, Robyn Bryen for their ongoing hard work and enormous support in ensuring all things Formula Junior in Australia run well. Their knowledge of, and passion for Historic Motorsport is well known to all and it continues, unabated, luckily for us!
During 2017, the American leg of the Jubilee was held and it highlighted to me the difficult issue we also face in Australia – that of distance. The USA races were sensibly split, basically into two halves – West and East coast. I was fortunate to be able to participate in the East coast section along with about 12 other Aussies and Kiwis! It was a fantastic experience. They do things a bit differently over there, but it all works well. Strong grids and really good racing at several iconic circuits along the way. The Yanks are masters of logistics and planning and it shows. The circuits were immaculate and the track surrounds were groomed to perfection. This enhanced activities considerably. I spoke with a number of casual spectators, who, whilst not being what you would consider as true petrol heads, enjoyed the time they spent at the track and they were well catered for. Including lots of grassy knolls…who said that? Whatever you do, don’t mention “The Donald”
The year saw a few cars change hands and we welcome several newcomers to our growing ranks of owners, and, more importantly, competitors. To further enhance this, I am aware of at least two more cars undergoing restoration that just might see the light of day this coming year. Margaret Ealand must be thanked for her decision to ensure Roger’s much cherished Lotus 18 remained in Australia with new custodian Paul Falkner… at some exxpense to Margaret, such is her enthusiasm for our group. No doubt Margaret will be on the phone to you soon to encourage your entry and to keep tabs on our “fleet”” movements.
The calander is set for 2018 and our first meeting at Wakefield should be fantastic with 14 starters at the time of writing. Is it the double points, the track, or just simply time to blow the cobwebs out for you? Your feed back to our small, but growing membership is vital to ensure we remain relevant and accommodating to as many as possible. Dust your toy off – come and have fun with us as often as you can.
Let’s make 2108 a memorable year – time marches on so, IF NOT NOW – WHEN?
Please find enclosed the documentation required for our forthcoming Annual General Meeting to be held on the evening of Friday, 6th April 2018 at the Goulburn Soldiers Club, prior to our first race meeting for the year. The following documents are enclosed.
Minutes from the 2017 AGM
Nomination form for Committee members for 2018
Proxy voting form
Please return nomination and proxy forms to myself at this email address and I will ensure they are distributed accordingly.
Don’t forget that you need to be a financial member in order to vote, so please let me know if you need a membership form.
Prior to the AGM we will be holding a 3 course dinner at the Goulburn Soldiers Club in Market Street, Goulburn for only $35/head, so please let me know if you intend to come along and haven’t already told me. I need to know numbers for catering purposes. Everyone is welcome – you don’t have to be an AFJA member.
Great news! The HSRCA has agreed to provide us with our own races at our first championship round for 2018 at Wakefield Park on the weekend of 7/8 April. This also means it will be double points. I will let you know as soon as entries are open. However, for this to be a success we need your support from all of our classes. That is front engined, rear engined and Formula 3. The more the merrier of course. The HSRCA is also giving us “naming Rights” and it will be known as the 60th Anniversary Meeting of Formula Juniors in Australia. (in actual fact it is probably only 59, but let’s no quibble over a year or two).
This will also be our AGM for the year and I will be sending out the paperwork for this in due course. So, please come along and have your say on the pointscore, the championship rounds for the year and anything else you would like to discuss that affects our Association as well as enjoying some fun in your pride and joy.
Also, just a reminder that annual membership fees are now due. I have only processed 20 or so to date so if you would like to renew please drop me a line or read the details that were in the recently distributed issue of Pitstop.