July 20, 2023
The youngest driver in the oldest car, a petite single-seater once owned by a Formula 1 team boss, teenagers launching their racing careers and gun contenders eyeing the main prize are among more than 220 entries accepted for the 27th Historic Leyburn Sprints on 19-20 August.
The final starting list features historic, classic and performance cars from 10 decades of motoring going back to the 1920s and an eclectic line-up of makes from Ferrari to Ford and Aston Martin to Abarth.
While round-the-houses time trials commemorating the 1949 Australian Grand Prix at Leyburn are the weekend centrepiece, visitors can also enjoy a wide choice of attractions off-track.
More than 100 cars and motorcycles are expected for the popular Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine and there will be a display of around 20 colourful vintage caravans, complete with matching classic tow vehicles.
Retired racing legend Colin Bond will be guest-of-honour and make several appearances to meet his many fans. There will be raffles to win race car rides, a welcome barbecue, charity auction, fun run, market stalls, helicopter rides and live music at the Royal Hotel and RSL club.
Visitors also are encouraged to tour the many historical locations around the Southern Darling Downs 1860s gold-rush town, including the site of the old 6.9 km grand prix circuit on a former airbase used for wartime secret missions.
On track, the highlight will be the contests for fastest time in 64 classes and fastest outright.
Defending champion Dean Amos is returning to chase a record-extending eighth win in his Gould GR55B single-seater. This exotic sprint and hillclimb racer, powered by a version of the IndyCar Cosworth V8, took Amos to the recent Queensland Hillclimb Championship at Mount Cotton and a record time at Grafton’s Mountain View hillclimb.
Amos also wants to at last better his 2019 record of 39.78 sec.
“We’ll see,” says the Lismore workshop owner. “We’ve done some minor aero mods at the back of the car which will make it better over Leyburn’s bumps, especially in braking.
“And if there’s one area I would say is critical for a fast lap at Leyburn, it’s braking grip - you’ve got to brake hard.”
Amos expects to be pushed hard by regular rivals Warwick Hutchinson (OMS) and Brett Bull (Van Dieman). “Warwick and Brett have both been getting faster this year, so I expect them to challenge,” he says.
In the Historic division, defending champion Matthew Clift may be hard to beat in his Mazda R100 coupe, but the competition will have a thoroughbred new contender in David Cross’s 1966 Brabham BT16 Formula 3, once owned by the Formula 1 team founder Frank Williams. The lithe Brabham, weighing less than 500 kg and powered by a 1.0 litre engine, will be racing in Australia for the first time.
A record nine contenders aged from 14 to 17 will get their chance to shine in the Mike and Ann Collins Memorial Junior Trophy regularity competition, their challenge to match a personal target time across the weekend, with points lost for faster or slower variations.
Junior entrants include 2022 winner Stevie Chant, recovered from a recent major crash at Queensland Raceway, and 14-year-old Quinn Partington, who will be making his motorsport debut in his grandfather’s 1922 Wikner Ford Special. The Ford Model T-based Wikner is said to be Australia’s oldest race-registered car, meaning Quinn will be the youngest driver in the oldest car.
The Junior Trophy honours Mike and Ann Collins, who were respectively founding Race Director and founding President of the Sprints in 1996. The couple were strong advocates for youth in motorsport and the program has seen several participants graduate to regular mainstream racing.
“The Junior Trophy highlights the fact the Historic Leyburn Sprints has something for everyone, whether your car is fast or slow, old or new, humble or exotic, or whether you’re a spectator or competitor,” Sprints President Tricia Chant said.
“We’re proud of our grassroots motorsport festival; it brings so much to Leyburn. Community volunteers run the Sprints with a can-do country attitude and the town is rewarded with income to support many organisations and projects.
“To get here you travel across one of Australia’s famous agricultural regions, the Darling Downs, and discover a place loaded with motorsport and pioneering history. The atmosphere is fun and friendly and the huge array of all types of cars an absolute treat.
“It’s an event not to be missed.”
Ticket sales and more information about the Historic Leyburn Sprints weekend are available here: Tickets