PHOTOS: Dick Johnson (left) and Fred Gibson will be among the motor-racing legends attending the Historic Leyburn Sprints for Australian Grand Prix 70th anniversary celebrations (Images by Autopics.com.au)
LEYBURN (Queensland) - Bathurst winners Dick Johnson and Fred Gibson have joined a line-up of motor-racing legends set to attend the Historic Leyburn Sprints for 70th anniversary celebrations of the Australian Grand Prix next month.
Johnson, now 74, and Gibson, 78, will participate in a variety of meet-and-greet activities with fans at the 17-18 August event on the Queensland Darling Downs.
They will join 60s and 70s touring car contemporaries Colin Bond, John French, Kevin Bartlett, Bill Gates and others to commemorate Leyburn’s hosting of the 1949 Australian Grand Prix.
The visit will be the first for Melbourne-based Gibson, but Johnson has been a Sprints regular in recent years, enjoying the grass-roots atmosphere and occasionally guest-driving a NASCAR-powered Ford Falcon XY GT on the 1.0 kilometre round-the-houses course.
“We’re thrilled that Dick Johnson and Fred Gibson are coming to the Historic Leyburn Sprints,” organising committee President Tricia Chant said.
“Both had huge parts in the history of Australian touring car racing as drivers and team owners and have been recognised for their achievement with induction into the Supercars Hall of Fame.
“Dick started racing in a Holden FJ in 1964. After switching to Fords he won five Australian Touring Car Championships and three Bathurst 1000 races and remains in the Supercars championship with his DJR Team Penske, which is dominating results with its Ford Mustang this season – he needs no introduction to fans everywhere.
“Fred is remembered as not only a successful driver of touring, sports and open-wheel cars, including winning the 1967 Gallaher 500 at Mount Panorama, but also as boss of the Nissan team that developed the all-conquering R32 Skyline GT-R known as Godzilla. In the hands of Jim Richards and Mark Skaife, this car won Bathurst in 1991 and 1992 and became one of the most iconic cars in touring car history.”
Ms Chant said other stars of yesteryear who had agreed to attend the Sprints included drivers Brian Michelmore, Jim Bertram, Bruce Richardson, Don Holland, Bruce Allison, John English and event promoter David Harding.
They will take part in a number of activities including autograph sessions and parade laps on both days, as well as guest-judging the Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine and Vintage Caravan competitions.
“Being the event that Leyburn is, you are more than likely to run into any of these guys throughout the weekend, as they wander the precinct enjoying the atmosphere,” Ms Chant said.
This year’s 24th annual Historic Leyburn Sprints is expected to attract more than 200 vintage, classic and modern cars for two days of time trials.
The field will include an original 1949 grand prix entry, an MG TB to be driven by Colin Schiller.
The Sprints also promises a packed weekend of off-track attractions. The popular Vintage Caravan display and Sunday’s Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine line-up of classic road cars and motorcycles are crowd favourites, along with market stalls and food and drink outlets.
Adult tickets will be on sale at the gate at $20 per day or $30 for the weekend. Children aged under 14 will be admitted free. Gates open at 6.30am daily and racing starts at 8am.
Tourism and Events Queensland’s Queensland Destination Events Program and Southern Downs Regional Council provide financial assistance to help promote the Sprints and attract visitors to the Southern Downs region. The event was named Queensland Motor Sport Event of the Year 2017.