Locals shine despite gloomy conditions at Noosa Hill Climb
IT WAS a weekend of contrasts at the SLRV 2017 Summer Noosa Hill Climb motorsport event this year, as beautiful conditions on Saturday made way for a wet and treacherous track on Sunday.
Held at the challenging 1.5km Gyndier Drive climb at Tewantin, more than 150 racing, classic and modern sports cars battled the clock through 14 corners, often at fearsome speeds.
Regarded as Australia's toughest hill climb due to the unforgiving course that punishes even small errors, the event attracted competitors from across Queensland and interstate, but plenty of Sunshine Coast locals also took part in their home event.
And it seems we have an abundance of special racing cars tucked away in our region, with about 50 cars competing on the weekend hailing from the Sunshine Coast.
Tewantin residents Wally Conway and Jay Underwood campaigned Ford Escorts, while Noosa's Max Parnell thrilled the crowds with his replica of the 1967 Formula 1 World Championship-winning Brabham BT24 Grand Prix car. Extra kudos goes to Max for still running this open wheel beauty on slick tyres despite Sunday's rain.
Other Noosa local racers included Mike Rider in his modern Lotus Exige, Lloyd Robertson with his monstrous 1959 Watson Indy Roadster replica, Rob van Wegen in his Renault RS 250 and Bruce Simpson in his gorgeous Porsche 934 replica.
A Sunshine Beach Alfa Romeo GTV 2000, Castaways Beach Peugeot 205 GTi, two VW Beeltles from Palmwoods, two Mazda MX-5s from Buderim and a Holden Torana GTR XU-1 from Coolum Beach showed the huge local interest in the event.
Overall winner was perennial champion Michael von Rappard in his open-wheel Dallara Hayabusa, who narrowly missed out on lowering his own track record at Noosa.
Quickest Sunshine Coaster was Doonan's Grant Elliott, piloting a rapid Elfin Streamliner MS8, who was one of only seven drivers to crack the magic one-minute barrier on the course.
The 2017 event celebrated 20 years of the Noosa Hill Climb, with four drivers taking part this year who had participated in that inaugural event: Rob van Wegen, Philip Redhead, Peter Walsh and Allan Conway. The latter three are still using the same race cars too: a 1960 MGA, 1969 Jaguar E-Type and 1960 Lotus Seven respectively.
Event chairman Bruce Anderson said celebrating 20 years was a huge moment for Noosa Beach Classic Car Club and the Noosa Hill Climb event.
"It's certainly a success story, and although the event has had its ups and downs, the fact drivers and spectators keep coming back is a good sign,” he said
"It's always been a superb event for the drivers, and we're always trying to make it better for spectators. We're ultimately aiming to create a festival environment for it in the future, with more celebrity drivers and high profile cars.”
A credit to the event was halting proceedings to observe a minute's silence at 11am for Remembrance Day on Saturday.
Drivers took off their helmets and stood silently by their race cars to create a moving scene.
"Some drivers will have been Vietnam veterans, and the community nature of the event meant it was an important thing to acknowledge,” Mr Anderson said.
Sunday's torrential downpours meant there were no quicker times on the event's second day, and while many drivers didn't risk the slippery track, some still went out to test themselves and entertain the soggy crowds with some impressive car control.
Sunshine Coast class winners
Grant Elliott, Doonan, 2006 Elfin Streamliner MS8, 58.14s
Bruce Simpson, Noosa Heads, 1977 Porsche 934 Replica, 62.02s
Matthew Berry, Lake MacDonald, 1959 Volkswagen Beetle, 64.43s
Karl Goessling, Cooroy, 1991 Suzuki Swift GTI, 65.75s
Trevor Bassett, Sunshine Beach, 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000, 66.95s