Brigitte and I have spent the last two weeks enjoying the delights of South Australia and the Adelaide Hills and had a fantastic time racing the 36 Chevy through the Barossa and Adelaide Hills. We left Perth’s wintery conditions behind on the 4th of October and were a little amused as we decided not to run the Comic Book Special at Collie in what appeared to be a very wet and wild event. We crossed the Nullarbor in under two and a half days with no problems towing the Taj-Mahal behind the Landcruiser with the Badger Special safely tucked away inside. Made Balladonia Day one and Kimba Day two, then rolled into Hahndorf at lunchtime to join in the October Fest. All of the worries about trailer tyres, wheel bearings and carrying enough spares were totally unwarranted. All went without mishap.
We spent many hours chomping into German Pretzels and Sausages and downing the odd Hoffbrau at the Hahndorf Inn. Had a nice trip over to the Birdwood Motor Museum and got a sneak preview of the AGP circuit about to be used for the Lobethal Grand Carnival event. We drove around it backwards before we worked out where we were. What a circuit, 8.7 miles, god knows how many turns, rise and fall, a straight that long that you could land a 747 on it if it weren’t for the trees, culverts and bridges along its length and not that wide in places either. It takes a good 15- 20 minutes at road speed to do a lap.
We enjoyed breakfast at the SA SCC which has as its clubrooms the former residence of Mawson our famous Antarctic explorer. Lovely old stone house with a library to die for. Just shows what can be done by running events like the AGP in your home town. Over to Birdwood again, travelling along the route of Classic Adelaide. The road through the Chain of Ponds, is a wild, especially when it’s damp, I think that was when I got my first broken rib from having too much fun, courtesy of my passenger.
We got to see so many things on our travels that we had been hoping to see, the first was the WM Special at Birdwood. It is a former contender at the 57 AGP alongside the BMH at Caversham. That Waggot cylinder head on the Holden Grey Motor nearly went walkies.
That was Wednesday covered so on Thursday we started to get organised for the weekend, the car was right but as we were carrying so much gear and a tonne and a half of Chevrolet, we had taken the precaution of leaning on members of the Chevrolet Club of SA to have spares ready for the 36 in case the worst happened. Len Maylin you are a super star. He had every eventuality covered, diffs and axles and anything else that would fit into the 1960 Chevy’s boot and that is a pretty big boot I might add all ready to be put into service if needed. Well as it turned out we finished all events on both days, that is twelve x 14km laps without any mishaps. We did foul two plugs on the last lap run into town but that didn’t stop us, that is until we got on the Nullarbor on the way home and found out why.
Arrived at Scrutineering on Friday and hey presto, no scrutineers. So we parked up and had a good look around at the competition, some great motor cars to be found and some not so clever creations too. Some of the original cars were there and they were great, I counted 4 Bugatti’s and countless MG’s of every shape and size. A lovely Vauxhall 40/98 helped us over our feelings of loneliness as there weren’t a whole lot of GM products there. Even less F—d’s too. They must have got scared although two Black Bess’s arrived that made me giggle a little as I clutched at my CAMS Log book.
Returning Saturday we were amazed at what work had been carried out, we close off 2 kms of road at Albany and a little over a Mile in Northam for our street events but how would you go closing down 14 kilometres and trying to control dogs and cats and the crows as well.
We passed our safety check all ok and with great trepidation we ventured out onto the circuit. That’s right we! Passengers were permitted so this was the first opportunity Brigitte has had to be in the Badger when driven in anger and what a circuit for your initiation. I loved it, my very own ride on mechanic. Well that was about when I got my next broken Rib, apparently she was yelling at me but hey we both had helmets on and I didn’t hear a thing. I was kind of wondering why I wasn’t getting the thumbs up as we went thundering on down the straight. I though she liked the feel of the panic handle. Anyway after a lap or two she was fine and started to enjoy the scenery.
I got a little confidence up in the second event and decided to see what the Chevy could do, well I now know what V max of the Chevy is and so did the local constabulary I found out later. They had radar operating on the run out of town and according to the C of C, the Badger can hit three digits- and that’s in MPH. That’s also how I got on first name basis with the Honourable C of C. A genuinely nice fellow who very kindly and politely pointed out what speed he required from the competitors. Suffice to say when I reported this back to the ride on mechanic I got another broken rib. So I was strictly touring after that. But what a great circuit and a truly terrific event watching the Bikes on the circuit was great. Completion of day one and we were treated to a movie at the local theatre and what was the movie- The World’s Fastest Indian, what a great show and a great place to view it too. All monies raised at the show went towards restoration and preservation of the Theatre and it had real atmosphere too, fold down Axminster clad chairs the whole experience.
Sunday was glorious and we enjoyed the events and Carnival. The Kelly gang (Dan Kelly) was sitting on the hill just above where Alan Tomlinson came to grief in the 1940 event, best viewing spot in town and I had no trouble hearing the Chevy fan club up on the hill every lap. It is great thing to have a stand-in fan club for the Chevy and the SA Chevy people did a great job of looking after us, many thanks to you all. If you want to see just how terrific the circuit is, I have loaded up on the BMH’s You Tube site a full lap of the Circuit. It is a lap at average speed of 60MPH and considering that Alan Tomlinson did it at something like 85MPH plus average lap speed you get an idea of just how dangerous racing was pre war. Go to Google and input BMHCOMIC and you will find the link to the Video. It is more than eight minute’s duration and takes a while to load up but it was a bit hard to leave out any part of the circuit all of it is fun.
As I said earlier, we fouled a plug on the run down the hill into town which we quickly rectified before packing the Chevy up for the ride back to Hahndorf after the presentations. We spent the next day visiting Goolwa, Granite Is and Victor Harbour a place I spent some time at as a little kid and reliving the days before the infamous bridge was built crossing the Murray River to Hindmarsh Is. We drove along the original race circuit at Victor Harbour, not too complex I must say, four corners and one bend but it would have been awfully fast. Had a look at Lake Alexandrina where I went to the Australian speed boat championships as a kid, I don’t think they will be running them there again until the Queenslander cotton farmers turn the water back on to the Murray River. It truly is as bad as they say. Jetty’s I swam at as a kid are now 8 feet above the water. We ventured up to Murray Bridge and made a donation to the drinking water supply for Adelaide. Returning back to Adelaide the Tojo decided to de-torqued the engine, so we made a quick pit stop at Murray Bridge Toyota to have the throttle motor wiring fixed. After paying over $350 for a tank of diesel on the trip over it was rather comical to be paying $38.00 for an hour’s labour and materials to rewire the throttle motor. But nowhere near as funny as paying $8.00 for 4 rounds of bread and butter at Madura Pass on the way home.
Well that was pretty much what we got up to in SA so Tuesday we packed up and took off for home with Ed following us in the MG J2 for his epic journey home to Perth. I towed the Badger out through the twisty roads of the Barossa and Clare Valley’s. Stopped off to buy a few bottles at Penfolds, Grange was $1200.00 a bottle so we made do with a carton of Kunugas , then onto Maggie Beers Farm, she wasn’t in and Simon wasn’t there either but Brigitte got into the kitchen and rattled the pots and pans. Lucky she wasn’t in either because I am just dying to ask her why in hell would you want to de-glaze the pan with Verjuice (unfermented grape juice) when you are surrounded by millions of barrels of the best red wine? Doesn’t make much sense to me, might just as well use Hemlock! Tastes the same!
Enough of that, around the corner from Maggy’s is a small motel about 2 kms south of Nuriootpa. The entire motel is on wheels, train wheels in fact, every room is a carriage and they have all standards from the presidential suite down to 2nd class but out the back in an enormous shed is housed the best collection of Motor Cars one will ever see. Nearly every model of Chevy from a Veteran Little which is a precursor Chevy through to the almighty D series V8 of 1917(There were two of them), a Veteran Baby Grand roadster of 1918 and almost all of the superior models and 6 cylinder cars through to 1940. Mecca is the best way to describe it. Also inside is what would have to be 50 or more Aerial Motorbikes, all complete and running. There must have been 10 Square 4s.The manager told us that there were 7 more 20 foot shipping containers out the back also full of unrestored Aerial Bikes. The next shed further out the back had all of the post war Chevys, 1946 through to 1974 absolutely amazing collection all done by one man Eric Parker. There must have been a hundred cars in total. And it didn’t stop there in another shed and I mean a 60’ by 30’ shed was a full blown O gauge Hornby train set, and it had everything with it too, staggering what was there and it didn’t stop there either out the front was the mini loco set as well and just so they could cart the toys around was the converted Denning coach and trailer combo
Anyway, Brigitte dragged me out of there and onto the overnight stop where we unloaded the Chevy for the drive across the Nullarbor. Brigitte towed the trailer next morning and off we went- MG and Chevy across the Australian Bight. Well 50 miles later I found out why it fouled a plug. Well it had a belly full of broken oil control rings, the constant high speed in the event must have upset the rings and up the oil came. We kept going, weaving along to keep ourselves amused at about 60 mph and Two days and 24 litres of oil later the Chevy and MG made it to Madura. At that point cleaning plugs and topping up oil had lost all its appeal and as we had made the crossing of the Great Plain It was time to pack up my toys and go Home. Ed pushed on in the J2 and in 4 days had made it back under its own steam, not too much steam thankfully, with the Tojo following on behind enjoying the comfortable seats and air conditioning.
We snuck into town at 6.00 pm and by 7.30 were all unloaded and off to drop Charles off at home and takeaway. We spent the next day washing everything and cleaning up the rather dusty looking Chevy and loading the BMH ready for the Barbagello next weekend