Photos: Trapnell Creations
LEYBURN (Queensland) - MORE than 200 historic, classic and performance cars and a grid-full of racing heroes from yesteryear will headline the 24th annual Historic Leyburn Sprints on the Southern Darling Downs on 17-18 August.
The time-trials on a closed-street course around Leyburn celebrate the running of the Australian Grand Prix on an ex-wartime airfield just outside the town in September 1949.
The event is one of the most popular on the historic motorsport calendar and every year attracts thousands of spectators from far and wide.
While no 1949 participants have been found to join the 70th anniversary celebrations, Sprints organisers have invited an impressive line-up of popular drivers from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, who will be on hand to meet their fans at various activities during the weekend.
Big names include Kevin Bartlett, Dick and Steven Johnson, John French, Fred Gibson, Colin Bond, Don Holland, Bob Holden, car preparer Bruce Richardson and recent Targa Tasmania winner Paul Stokell. From the local scene, Jim Bertram, John English, Bill Gates, Brian Michelmore and race organiser David Harding will bring back many memories.
Between them, the guest drivers own many national, State and Bathurst titles.
Leyburn’s extraordinary array of racing, sports and touring cars is always a great attraction, but this year it will include two very special models. Darling Downs enthusiast Colin Schiller has acquired two MG Specials that competed in the 1949 grand prix and will bring them home to contest the 2019 Sprints.
At the other end of the speed spectrum, the prestigious Col Furness Memorial Trophy for outright fastest time has attracted some of the quickest hill-climbers and sprint-racers in Australia. Dean Amos will be chasing a sixth-straight title in his Formula 1-powered Gould GR55B-Judd; as well as beating his rivals, Amos’s goal in 2019 will be to finally lower the 1.0 kilometre course record below 40 seconds.
There’s more than motorsport at the Historic Leyburn Sprints, too, with organisers promising a packed weekend of attractions. The colourful Vintage Caravan display and Sunday’s Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine gathering of around 150 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.
For those who can’t attend, the Sprints will be live-streamed throughout the weekend on the event website, www.historicleyburnsprints.com.au.
Named Queensland Motor Sport Event of the Year 2017, the Sprints are community-run and financial proceeds are used to help local organisations and projects.
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.