SVO Club Of America

SVO Down Under Part II

This was my 2nd yr in the Duttons GP Rally. I would once again share driving and navigation duties with Richard Peters. Last year we used Richard's 68 Falcon GT. This time however, instead of the tractor-like steering of the Falcon - we entered my 1984 Mustang SVO, which could have been purpose built for the job. Great handling, great braking, turbo power, and most importantly - fitted with a Terratrip.

ron_1_200.jpg (7114 bytes)Registration commenced on Saturday morning in Shepparton where we had to show our civilian and CAMS licenses. With 203 cars entered, the lakeside park in Shepparton was a sea of shiny sponsorship decals. My SVO was kindly sponsored by AXA Insurance, Shannons Classic Car Insurance, Ord Minnett Stockbrokers, Coles Myers, Woodards Real Estate, Fujitsu Computers, Budget Eyewear, Phillipe Batters Real Estate, and the Mustang Owners Club. All of the sponsorship monies were passed directly to the Kids Help Line Charity.

ron_5_200.jpg (11341 bytes)After registration it was time to take the cars to the DECA site, also in Shepparton, for Scrutineering. Entrants receive as part of their package, weeks before the event, a listing of criteria that will be used by the scrutineers. Basically, the car has to be roadworthy with good tires (slicks are not permitted), no oil leaks, and a min. 2kg fire extinguisher. You must also have an approved racing helmet for the track events.

ron_3_200.jpg (7665 bytes)We move on from there for some slippin' and slidin' around the skidpad. Great fun and the first event to separate the skilled drivers from the wannabes. It looks easy and the temptation to hoon around doing 360s is almost irresistible.. However, I did resist the temptation and managed to get around in a reasonable time given that the rev limiter on the SVO kept telling me in very positive terms (i.e.: fuel cutting off) that I was spinning
the engine a bit too high!

Saturday night we commence the dreaded night navigation test. Only due to the fact that I had a good navigator with some valuable local knowledge and a Terratrip fitted to the SVO...we only lost a few points on this exercise. So did a lot of other contestants. Of the 203 entrants - only 20 scored clean sheets on the night navigation.

Sunday morning saw us in further navigation exercises around central Victoria. This was followed by sprints at the Wangaratta Airport and then laps of the Winston Race Circuit. The SVO handled Winston really well and was only passed by a Cobra 428 and a BMW M3.

ron_2_200.jpg (14271 bytes)After breakfast on Monday morning was concours judging for the best presented cars then on to more navigation around central Victoria and ending at the Heathcote Drag Strip. It was real buzz for me to beat a BMW Z3 on the strip! Then, more navigation exercises that  would at the Bendigo Airport - where driving skill tests were performed. The whole precession finished up on display outside the Bendigo Town Hall. After a quick shower it was off to the All Seasons Motel in Bendigo for a special Rally Night Dinner.

Tuesday saw us again on navigation work leading to the Calder Park Raceway and the Thunderdome. Having put some 40 laps around Calder over recent weeks I looked forward to hustling the SVO around those familiar corners and ripple strips. No disappointments here. The little SVO showed up more than a few more powerful cars.

The Thunderdome was a little disappointing in that we could only drive around approx. 75% of the track and only once. Following that with more navigation and driving skills tests. Then we got to the highlight of the week for me; acceleration, braking, and a flying 1/8mi tests around the Ford Proving Grounds. This was a real hoot and the only disappointment was that you only got one go at it. We then traveled to Geelong where we stayed for the night.

Wednesday, Peter had the reins to the Pony and after some first up navigation dramas with me working the map, we arrived at the RAAF base at Laverton for "The Great Garage Sprint", "The Giant Slalom", "The Huge Go/Whoa", and the "Pylon Race." Peter had a ball in the SVO and left a lot of my expensive sticky tires still stuck to the tarmac. The entire procession then drove up to Melbourne and had the cars on display at the International Motor Show at Jeff's Shed. This was the finish of all the competitive stages of the Rally.

The Duttons Grand Prix Rally is simply a barrel of fun. You can be as serious as you want to be and some of the competitors are really serious. However, it is not inexpensive. You will have to allow up w to $3,000 between two people for the week. This would cover your entry fees, fuel, accommodations, meals, and entertainment. I had not been on anything like this prior to my first effort last year, but I doubt if there are many other organized events where you can explore the limits of your car and your
driving skills with relative safety and have so much fun.

Ron Minogue
SVOCA Member # 0139

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