PHOTO (by Trapnell Creations): Dean Amos (left) and David Cross race to their respective victories at the 2017 Historic Leyburn Sprints.
Defending champion Dean Amos slashed almost two seconds off his own lap record to claim a fourth straight outright title at the 22nd Historic Leyburn Sprints at the weekend.
The Lismore-based racer set a time of 40.5651 sec. in a Gould GR55B single-seater on the sixth of seven runs against the clock around a one-kilometre street course in the Darling Downs township of Leyburn, around 200 kilometres west of Brisbane.
Winning the Col Furness Memorial Trophy, Amos became the second most successful Sprints competitor after Toowoomba’s Ray Vandersee, who has won six times. The Sprints celebrate the 1949 running of the Australian Grand Prix on a disused wartime aerodrome just outside Leyburn.
Amos promised to return in 2018 to try to become the first driver to record a time below 40secs on the current course. After going progressively faster throughout the weekend in his Nicolson-McLaren powered racer, a gearshift problem spoiled his final run.
“I had a gear selection problem on the last run, but this is only a new car for me and there’s more speed to come, so I’ll be back next year for another crack,” he said. The 650 horsepower V8 Gould replaced an older version he had raced at the past three events.
Michael Von Rappard was forced to accept second place in his Dallara F392 for another year, although his time of 42.2911 sec. also was below Amos’s 2016 record.
Around 200 historic, classic and performance cars ranging in vintage from the 1920s to modern-day contested the Sprints in 59 classes. Representing the oldest, the 1925 Austin 750 of Russell Wright claimed a best time of 1 min. 19.0072 sec., but the fastest Historic-category car overall was the 1976 Bowin Hay P6 V8 of David Cross, which set a time of 49.6992 sec.
President of the Historic Leyburn Sprints community-run organising committee, Tricia Chant, announced a total two-day attendance of 15,000.
“The 2017 Sprints attendance was virtually the same as in 2016. We’re very happy with this number, considering the blustery weather made for cold outdoor conditions on Saturday,” Mrs Chant said.
“Our spectators enjoyed great entertainment on and off-track on both days and the various market traders and food outlets did solid business. We look forward to another successful Historic Leyburn Sprints in 2018.”
Off-track attractions included more than 150 cars and motorcycles – and one tractor - in the annual Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine competition. Entrants represented more than 30 brands from Cadillac, to Lancia to Vauxhall, with the Best in Show going to Ally Connolly’s 1956 Holden FJ.
An American aluminium Airstream believed to be one of the first three built won Best Vintage Caravan from 28 colourfully-themed entries, many with period-matching tow vehicles, depicting motoring holidays as they used to be.
A date for the 2018 Sprints is expected to be confirmed later this year.
Outright fastest time:
1. Dean Amos (Gould GR55B) 40.5651 sec.
2. Michael Von Rappard (Dallara F392) 42.2911
3. Rielly Brook (Taatus Formula Renault) 44.2639
David Cross (Bowin Hay P6) 49.6992
Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine:
Best in Show – 1956 Holden FJ (A. Connolly)
Vintage Caravan Show:
Best Vintage Caravan – Airstream (David Kable)
The community-run Sprints benefits local organisations and projects, with funds this year going to the Leyburn State School. Tourism and Events Queensland’s Queensland Destination Events Program and Southern Downs Regional Council provides financial assistance to help promote the event and attract visitors to the Southern Downs region.