PHOTO: Warwick Hutchinson powers his OMS28 to outright victory; Dick Johnson rides with owner Doug Partington in the 1922 Wikner Ford Special at the Historic Leyburn Sprints (Credit Trapnell Creations)
LEYBURN (Queensland) - A desperate last effort clinched a fourth outright win for driver Warwick Hutchinson at the Historic Leyburn Sprints yesterday.
After duelling all weekend, Hutchinson trailed rival Brett Bull until he crossed the line on his ninth and last run around the 1.0 kilometre Leyburn street course.
Bull, driving a Van Dieman single-seater, booked his best time of 42.365 seconds on the ninth run and with a margin of 0.189s looked set to win his first Col Furness Memorial Trophy.
But Hutchinson, next in line for the start, flung his Mazda rotary-powered OMS28 around the track in 42.271s to claim his first Sprints victory since 2013.
“This trophy is close to my heart. I’ve been up here several times and it’s good to be back,” he said.
“Brett was in front most of the weekend and it was a really close battle. That was very satisfying to beat him on the very last run.”
In the Historic classes, Brad Stratton set the fastest time of 55.225s in a 1962 Elfin Mallala sports car. Thomas Rath, driving a Suzuki Swift, won the Ann Collins Memorial Junior Award for setting the most consistent times among drivers aged between 14 and 17.
The 25th anniversary Sprints, commemorating the 1949 Leyburn Australian Grand Prix, lived up to its reputation as one of the most popular and enjoyable events on the historic motorsport calendar.
Sprints President Tricia Chant said that although competitor numbers were down slightly without interstate entries due to Covid-19, the event provided plenty of action and entertainment.
“We’ve faced some challenges in the past couple of years after having to cancel the 2020 event and postpone this year’s by three weeks, but there was no sign of that at the weekend – everyone seemed to have a great time,” she said.
Crowd-pleasing highlights included demonstration runs by an ear-splitting Ford Fusion NASCAR once raced in America by Australian champion Marcos Ambrose and piloted at Leyburn by Supercar driver Brodie Kostecki.
At the other end of the speed spectrum, Australia’s oldest racing car, the 1922 Wikner Ford Special owned for 63 years by Doug Partington, took Leyburn Legend Dick Johnson on a parade lap to the applause of thousands of fans. Johnson was joined at the Sprints by his son Steven and grandson Jett, who was competing in a Ford Escort.
Kostecki and fellow first-time visitor, former Supercar team owner Ross Stone, praised the event atmosphere.
“I’m asking myself what have I been missing out on. It’s got such a good feeling and it’s such a good event, I’ll come back,” said Stone, honoured alongside Dick Johnson and other senior motorsport personalities as one of this year’s Leyburn Legends.
Kostecki took time away from his usual Erebus Motorsport duties to run the NASCAR in public in Australia for the first time.
“Everyone loved the sound of the NASCAR – it revs to 9000 and sounds unique,” he said.
“It was great to see so many people and so many cars – quite different to what I’ve been doing.
“It’s been nice to sit a few kids in my car for photographs.”
The community-run Sprints is expected to return in 2022 on its usual late-August date, pending official confirmation.
- Fastest Outright (Col Furness Memorial Trophy): 1 W Hutchinson (OMS28) 42.271 sec., 2 B Bull (Van Dieman RF03K) 43.365s, 3 S Woodbridge (Dallas F304) 45.001s
- Fastest Historic (Hayden Betts Memorial Trophy): B Stratton (Elfin Mallala) 55.225s
- Ann Collins Memorial Junior Award: T Rath (Suzuki Swift)
- Best Volunteer (Alan Wickham Memorial): D Trustrum
- Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine: Best Car, 1979 Ford Falcon 500 ute Rally Pack (M Murphy), Best Bike, 2019 Honda Gold Wing (C Lyon)
- Best Vintage Van: 1963 Millard Safari (L & M Whiting)
Download complete Sprints times on the Results & Docs page.
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). The Historic Leyburn Sprints was named 2017 Queensland Motor Sport Event of the Year.