While historic racing in Australia is moving from strength to strength, it’s usually confined to the well-known circuits located in and about the major cities. “Round the Houses” events may have been popular in days of yore, but now hurdles appear everywhere from the likes of government authorities, public acceptance, and not forgetting effecting sufficient insurance coverage.
Thankfully Speed on Tweed, now in its 4th year defies the rules with the 2005 event held September 16–18 being the best yet. Held in and around the town of Murwillumbah, located on the Tweed River, some 700 kilometres north of Sydney, the event not only has the full support of the local council but also the good citizens of Murwillumbah through the local Rotary Club. Started by a group of local enthusiasts, Speed on Tweed has now become an event not to be missed on the Australian historic racing calendar.
The event itself is not a race through the town but more a time trial where competitors compete against the clock. Competing cars must be at least 25 years old and fall into classes for open-wheel racing cars, sports cars, and sedans. Cars taking part in the timed events must be equipped with the necessary safety requirements such as roll bars, seat belts, and the like. The 1.4-kilometer circuit typifies an Australian country town starting at the showground adjacent to the local cattle yards. Up steep hills, along tree-lined avenues, past a Catholic church that’s open for business to the sounds of racing cars and along the main street of Murwillumbah. There is also a Bus Stop Corner, appropriately named due to the bus stop located right on the corner!
This year, under the patronage of the legendary Frank Gardener, a total of 189 cars took part in Speed on Tweed. Also in attendance was Brabham and Ralt designer Ron Tauranac and a host of well-known Australian drivers including Warwick Brown, Geoff Brabham, Vern Schuppen, Spencer Martin, Leo Geoghegan, and Greg Cusack. All profits from the event were donated to the Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia, the favorite charity of the late 500-cc motorcycle champion Barry Sheene.
As in past years the list of entrants was staggering with vehicles ranging from the 1922 Winkner Ford (Model T based), Bugatti T35, through to an ex-Le Mans Lotus 11 (see VRJ, Oct. 2004), Jaguar D-type, Brabhams, Loti, Coopers, and a swag of historic sedans.
After practice and two days of competitive motorsport, the outright winner at 41.85 seconds was Ron Hay in his RH Special followed by Australian racing personality John Bowe in a Brabham BT36 with 42.83 seconds, while the Chevy Monza punted by Stephen Voight won the Sports and GT Class with 44.31 seconds.