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A bit of nostalgia

February 5, 2022

On a recent car trip I stopped at the rest area on the Hume Highway at Penrose State Forest. This brought back memories.

The reason for the nostalgia is that back in the olden days our club used to run very short rallies in Penrose Forest, designed to give people practice at the game. Usual length was about 60 kilometres and there was no transport - straight into the first competitive stage, last stage finishing back there.

Anecdotes from several of these events:

1) I was wandering around before the start and walked past a Datsun 1200 famous for its unreliabilty. I commented to my daughter "Look - a car like your mother's got". The owner of the car erupted into a paroxysm of rage, loudly shouting that the car was nothing like anything any mother would have. When he finally shut up I turned to Jen and said "He's probably right. His car probably doesn't have a 240Z engine". Then we walked away.

2) A driver of a car famous for its unreliabilty (possibly the aforementioned Datsun 1200) registered a loud complaint and was going to whinge loudly to CAMS because there wasn't a service break in the middle of the event. 60km total. We laughed at him.

3) A very short rally with many starters meant that people could finish before everyone had started. I was navigating for my friend Alan and my wife Virginia was driving the 1600, starting before we did. When we finished there were still three or four cars waiting to start so I went to the director and asked if he would accept a late entry - the 1600 (already scrutineered, obviously) with me driving and Alan in the ballast seat. Apparently there were rules that had to be observed so the application was refused. In any case, I think the car had already won the event without us.

4) I rarely had anything ever fall off my cars, but in one of the short Penrose events my entire exhaust pipe from the connection to the extractors to the back bumper decide to liberate itself. Wearing helmets inside what was already a noisy car hid the sudden increase in noise, and we only found out that the car was exhaustless when we finished the rally. The rally director told us that the car following us had picked up the exhaust pipe (which appeared to be totally undamaged) but when we went looking for it we found that that car had withdrawn (which is how they got to the end of the event before us) and the crew had gone home. Taking my exhaust pipe with them. I managed to contact the other car's owner the next day and only had to make a 130 kilometre round trip to collect it. Refitting it to the 1600 took about five minutes.

This was before the highway bypassed Mittagong and on the north of the town there was a long hill with a motel at the top. When we got to the bottom of the hill driving home we saw a police car parked outside the motel. This meant that to avoid drawing attention to the mufflerless 1600 I had to get to the top of the hill and over it without dropping out of top gear and without touching the accelerator. To this day I'm still not sure how I did it but it did show that my engine builder knew how to make an engine with a very wide and flat torque curve.

Copyright © 2016- Peter Bowditch

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