August 21, 2023
Defending champion Dean Amos claimed a record-extending eighth outright win at the 27th Historic Leyburn Sprints yesterday.
Driving his British-built Gould GR55B, the Lismore, NSW, workshop owner set a mark of 40.795 seconds for the fastest time around the 1.0 km public street course in the Leyburn township.
Amos was presented with the Col Furness Memorial Trophy by Australian racing legend and Sprints guest-of-honour Colin Bond at the end of another highly-successful weekend for the community-run event.
Amos’s time, set on his eighth and last run on Sunday afternoon, was almost four seconds ahead of second place finisher Brett Bull (Van Dieman), but only his fifth-fastest in eight years of contesting the Sprints.
“Track conditions were bit slower this year and cones had been placed on the corners that made it a challenge to get through them fast without clipping a cone and earning a time penalty,” Amos said.
“However, everyone was in the same boat so it didn’t matter much and as usual I just had a great time. I love this event, it’s such a great time and I can’t wait to come back every year.”
Fastest driver and car in the Historic division for the second year were Matthew Clift of Warwick and his 1971 Mazda R100 Rotary - also possibly the loudest car on the track. Clift’s time of 53.694 sec. was the 23rd fastest in a field of more than 220 cars ranging in vintage from 1925 to modern-day.
Sprints President Tricia Chant said the extraordinary array of makes and models epitomised the event’s grassroots appeal, alongside many other attractions.
“Superb Darling Downs winter weather brought out big crowds on both days, especially Saturday, and as well as the Sprints competition there was plenty to keep them entertained,” she said.
“The Vintage Caravan display and Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine competition were big hits as usual and we also had a charity auction, fun run, racing car rides, a best campsite competition and much more.
“It’s been another terrific year commemorating the 1949 Leyburn Australian Grand Prix. Recently we tracked down the 1949-winning Delage in a California museum, which highlighted the history of this event and the town.
“The Historic Leyburn Sprints continues to grow but we’re proud that its most precious element, its welcoming grassroots atmosphere, continues undiluted.”
Although the Sprints is an event for historic vehicles – and even some senior drivers – young competitors had a high profile this year.
Sophie Devitt of Brisbane beat seven other drivers aged 14-17 in a regularity competition for the Mike & Ann Collins Memorial Junior Trophy. Devitt, 17, drove a BMW sedan in her first-ever motorsport competition and received her trophy and prizes from Colin Bond.
Guy and Patsy Di Mattina won the best caravan display with their 1969 Bedford Dormobile, a modest home on wheels – and one of only two in Australia - which they rebuilt from a derelict find and drove 18,500 kms around Australia. The display attracted 24 colourful vans and tow vehicles, evoking memories of holiday times for many Sprints visitors.
The Show ‘n’ Shine Best Car award went to a truck, a spectacular red 1980 Ford F350 rebuilt by owner Peter McClaverty with a vintage Diamond Reo cabin and with a tray on the back for transporting racing cars. The Show ‘n’ Shine saw 67 entries representing everything from classic Australian muscle cars to British and European thoroughbreds such as Maserati and MG.
President Tricia Chant said the efforts of dozens of local volunteer staff would generate significant community benefits.
“The Sprints will deliver another strong economic and cultural return for Leyburn and we’re already looking forward to returning on the third weekend of August in 2024 to do it bigger and better,” she said.
27th Historic Leyburn Sprints, 19-20 August 2023
Fastest Outright (Col Furness Memorial Trophy): 1 D Amos (Gould GR55B) 40.795 sec., 2 B Bull (Van Dieman RF03K) 44.677s, 3 W Hutchinson (OMS28) 45.406s, 3
Fastest Historic (Hayden Betts Memorial Trophy): M Clift (1971 Mazda R100) 53.694s
Mike & Ann Collins Memorial Junior Award: S Devitt (BMW E46)
Best Volunteer (Alan Wickham Memorial): Mick Maloney
Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine: Best Car, 1980 Ford F350 Customised (P McClaverty)
Best Vintage Van & Display: 1969 Bedford Dormobile (G & P Di Mattina)