After a couple of laps of the Murwillumbah Showground, it’s out for a timed run through the streets of the town itself. Up a steep hill, pass a couple of houses, sharp right-hand turn and along a tree-lined avenue. With the trees behind there is a little open space with paddocks either side before a fast left-hander followed by a right uphill corner. It’s called the Bus Stop, not after the similarly named corner at Spa, but because there is a bus stop on the corner. Simple, really, as this is very much a “Round the Houses” circuit.
Then it’s down a long, sweeping left-hander and under a foot bridge before a very quick rise where, with the very fast cars, air is to be seen between the road surface and the tires. It may be Sunday but there is no stopping as you turn right and go uphill past the Catholic church. Continuing uphill to a sharp right-hand corner, it then drops away severely towards the finishing line.
It’s not a race but a time trial between each driver and car against the clock. More than 170 competitors and their cars divided into classes race against the clock to be the fastest in their class.
The circuit devised by the organizers has been likened to a mini Bathurst with 1.4 kilometers of steep climbs, quick downhill runs, tight turns and sweeping bends, all within a stone’s throw of the Murwillumbah town hall. It has been described as a circuit that will test, challenge, teach and even take the occasional prisoner if you’re not careful.
The town of Murwillumbah is located on the Tweed River some 700 kilometers north of Sydney. Following on from a few earlier furtive events by other townships at a “Round the Houses” speed event, a few local historic racing enthusiasts convinced the Murwillumbah Rotary Club and local council of the benefits that would certainly flow by staging such an event in their town. Now Speed on Tweed, has in just three years, become the mecca for Australian historic motor racing enthusiasts and acts as a drawcard to so many vehicles that may lie dormant for the rest of the year.
With Frank Gardner now eagerly working as patron, Speed on Tweed has become hugely successful, so much so that this year 130 entries had to be rejected. With time trials occurring over the weekend of September 18–19, 2004, the event has enveloped the whole town. More than 30% of the male population makes up the 700 volunteers needed for its smooth running. Throughout the weekend the cars, when not competing, were on constant display along the town’s main street along with other activities to keep all family members happy.
The party continued into Saturday night when hundreds of townspeople and visiting enthusiasts sat down to dinner al fresco along the main street while being entertained by a tuxedoed attired orchestra.
Where else but Murwillumbah, Australia would you find two days of nonstop motor sport action, a full orchestra with players dressed in penguin suits and a kilometer and half of happy customers enjoying dinner? If you want to know more, have a look at www.speedontweed.com
Submitted by Patrick Quinn