Small Race Events are Good Race Events – The Winton Festival of speed – Cameron Dawes
Most outside Australia won’t have heard of Winton Raceway. It’s never hosted a grand prix, it isn’t the birthplace of any forms of motor racing, and it certainly isn’t a place to mingle with "high society." This little country Victorian track does, however, host its own humble Festival of Speed each year. It’s no Goodwood, but that’s what’s great about it.
The draw to Winton isn’t big dollar cars. There aren’t any 917s, 250 GTOs or Group 5 cars gracing this particular track. So, why should you come to this Festival of Speed?
The reason I love this event so much can be found on the rear corner of this Valiant Charger:
And in the door of this RX3:
Because no one is driving cars worth more than the average suburban house, and not one inch is given on track.
Everyone seems to forget they are driving 40, 50 and in some cases, 60-year-old cars. The only thing that matters to these guys is winning, straight panels be damned.
That’s not to say that the event is all about the driving. The 4+ hour drive from home would be worth it for the metal alone. While there’s no Le Mans’ winners here, there is something for everyone. Whole classes of MGs are followed by whole classes of Alfas. There are touring cars, sports cars and even a mixed category of 70s Formula 2 and Formula 5000 machines.
Although they aren’t the loudest or fastest cars of the day, the historic Formula Fords run away with my heart. They are simple things, but on track the are like a swarm of bees, racing to each apex.
Skinny tyres and soft suspension means every car slides under braking, and there is a healthy serving of spectacular dusty spins in each race.
The access granted to spectators at such a small event is unrivaled. More often than not, you’re rewarded for poking your head into a garage with a lengthy chat about the various small (or not so small) issues, which plague old race cars.
I spent more time talking to the owners than I did pointing my camera at the cars.
As at most Australian classic motorsport events, muscle is the flavour of the day, although it doesn’t dominate it.
There’s plenty of Australian machines to take the fight to the Americans.
Yes that says GTR, no it’s not a mistake.
If you were born in the Northern Hemisphere, you may be unaware of this. Holden sold a Torana for the street with these flares as standard.
It’s not all V8’s and tortured tyres though, there’s plenty of BMWs, Datsuns and Porsches taking the fight to the big guys.
The simplicity of the circuit layout means you have access to everywhere anything interesting is happening.
Even the recovery vehicle is period correct.
Don’t turn down opportunities to attend smaller events like this. There’s a place in the world for Goodwood, but a small, dirty, honest Festivals of Speed can be just as fun.