It's a winner -- Magnificent men in their flying machines


THERE was hardly any rain, unlimited good cheer and lots of Joe Wilson's mates.

Mr Wilson, from Brisbane, the bloke with the oldest car at Speed on Tweed yesterday, a 1921 French Amil, won the coveted Ageless Trophy for the oldest combined age of a driver and his racing car.

But the combined years winning total was an "official secret". That's the kind of event Speed on Tweed has become. It's more about having fun than who's fastest.

Track announcers joked the dominant hair colour at the Murwillumbah Showground Speed on Tweed headquarters was grey.

There was not an Indy Girl to be seen.

"I Am The Stig" t-shirts were for sale, but most of the motor racing buffs looked more like Michellin Men than Formula One racers.

Mr Wilson, a retired draughtsman, has been to each of the six Speed on Tweed nostalgic motor racing festivals. He was full of praise for Speed on Tweed founder Roger Ealand and for the hospitality of the people of Murwillumbah.

"I was only saying last night to the wife, after a few drinks, that the class of Roger is reflected in this event," Mr Wilson said.

"I thought about it again this morning and I think that sums it up pretty well.

"You know, we've been going to this kind of event for years and some of them are in such desolate settings.

"But here in Murwillumbah it's such a beautiful backdrop and the community support is fantastic.

"We had them standing four deep for the street parade on Friday."

The smallest road car at Speed on Tweed was John Turnbull's 1969 red Fiat "Bambino", an extremely rare vehicle because it contains an Abarth enhanced engine, made in Italy.

Incredibly, the engine was purchased in Italy by a Toowoomba man in 1969, brought back to the Darling Downs and never unpacked.

Mr Turnbull, an estate agent who also owns an E-type Jaguar and a Porsche 911, recently managed to buy the unique original engine for his "Bambino".

So now he's got a brand new motor almost 40 years old that has only travelled about 100 kilometres.

"This is my second year at Murwillumbah, it's just such a fantastic event," he said.

The sexiest car at Speed on Tweed was arguably Trevor Bassett's 1971 Ferrari 365, black with an Italian flag racing stripe.

"Everyone appreciates a Ferrari, she's like a fine looking woman, you can't take your eyes of her," he said.

Mr Bassett, from the Sunshine Coast, loves his Ferrari so much he insists on driving it to classic car meets all over Australia to Phillip Island and Sandown in Victoria and Eastern Creek in Sydney.

"Most guys arrive with their cars on trailers and take 'em home on trailers.

"Thirty years ago we used to drive these cars everywhere, and I still do."

Often he is pulled over by police checking the left-hand drive racer is road-legal. On one occasion, his passenger was breath-tested in the dark.

Speed on Tweed provides an endless parade of incredible cars with remarkable owners, the whole spectrum of motor racing history.

An Aston Martin with its lights left on was parked next to a Holden Sandman orange panel van.

Every time a Morgan three-wheeler flew past on the time-trial track, it sounded like an exploding box of fire crackers amid the more familiar screech and roar of other engines.

Alan Jones' Beatrice Lola and Jack Brabham's Repco Brabam F1 cars were very eye-catching, but so was Peter Clough's 1969 "Offy" Speedcar, a tiny speedway racer.

"You get 'em going sideways on a dirt track, that's the skill of it," Brisbanite Mr Clough said with a glint in his eye. We all drove home carefully. That's the honest truth.

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