Two iconic racing Fords are set to excite fans at the 2021 Historic Leyburn Sprints.

PHOTO: Two iconic racing Fords are set to excite fans at the 2021 Historic Leyburn Sprints.

LEYBURN (Queensland) - Two cars with iconic – but vastly different - Australian racing histories almost 90 years apart have been announced as exciting last-minute attractions at the Historic Leyburn Sprints on 21-22 August.

Leyburn’s 1.0 kilometre round-the-houses course will shake with the thunderous sound of a 2008 Ford Fusion NASCAR, once driven to victory in America by Aussie champion Marcos Ambrose, while the oldest Australian racing car, the 1922 Wikner Special Model T Ford, will evoke much earlier memories of Australian and American competition.

The Fords are late additions to the original field of almost 220 historic, classic and performance cars for the 25thannual Sprints, which celebrate the running of the 1949 Australian Grand Prix at Leyburn, on Queensland’s southern Darling Downs.

With Covid-19 forcing the cancellation of national motorsport rounds on the same weekend at Queensland Raceway and Morgan Park Raceway, the Sprints are expected to attract an even bigger crowd than usual.

“These are two of the most iconic cars we’ve had at Leyburn and will be fantastic new attractions to what promises to be one of Queensland’s biggest motorsport weekends,” Sprints President Tricia Chant said.

“With these additions we’ll now have an incredible entry of more than 60 different makes or models of cars on track, plus dozens more in the Vintage Vans and Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine displays.

“We’re very grateful to the NASCAR’s owner Brett ‘Crusher’ Murray of and the Wikner Special’s owner Doug Partington of the Model T Ford Shed for providing these fabulous historic vehicles.”

Driving the spectacular 59# STP Ford Fusion, Marcos Ambrose scored the first Australian win in NASCAR’s elite Nationwide series, at Watkins Glen International Raceway in 2008. After a long period in storage, it will make its first Down Under public on-track appearance at Leyburn in exactly the condition it finished at Watkins Glen.

The Fusion, currently for sale for $380,000, will be on display and make several demonstration runs in the hands of Supercars regular Brodie Kostecki on the Sunday of the Sprints.

“While there is an amazing entry list for this year’s Leyburn event, I don’t think there will be anything louder or tougher than the #59 Fusion,” Kostecki said.

Car owner Murray added: “There is an incredible entry list at this year’s Leyburn event and we’re proud that we will be a part of such an eclectic mix of machinery.”

Leyburn visitors will see one of Australia’s most historic racers in the Wikner Special Model T Ford. The oldest-surviving Australian-built racing car, it was confirmed for Leyburn after it returned to Australia last week at the end of a two-year tour of the United States, where it was displayed at museums and car shows and lapped the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Milwaukee Mile ovals.

The car had been built by brothers Geoff and Roy Wikner for such tracks. It ran on local dirt circuits around Sydney and in 1925 contested the first races at the Olympia Speedway in Maroubra, Sydney.

It later was abandoned under a Brisbane house until a 14-year-old Partington bought it as a pile of parts for 14 pounds. He discovered its background only in 1994 and has since been dedicated to showcasing its unique history around Australia and in America.

“It will be a thrill to welcome this famous Australian racing car to one of Australia’s best historic and classic motorsport festivals. For just $20 per adult per day, Leyburn will be a fantastic way to experience almost 100 years of racing history,” Tricia Chant said.

Competition at the Sprints will start at 8am on both days. Adult ticket prices – unchanged for more than five years – will be $20 for Saturday or Sunday or $30 for the weekend. Children aged under 14 enter free and street parking is free.

Leyburn is around 60 kms north-west of Warwick and 220 kms from Brisbane.

The Queensland Government’s Queensland Destination Events Program and the Southern Downs Regional Council provide financial assistance to help promote the Sprints and attract visitors to the Southern Downs region. This event also has been proudly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).