Ready to roar -- Murwillumbah geared for Speed on Tweed

By PETER CATON THE sixth annual Festival of Speed on Tweed roared into life in Murwillumbah yesterday with the biggest-yet parade of historic%racing cars through the town's CBD streets. Visitors from across Australia as well as hundreds of local residents began waiting up to an hour before the procession of 70 cars revved and roared down the main street under racetrack bunting at 12.30pm. About 200 will take place in%racing on a circuit in the heart of town today and tomorrow. The parade was a spectacular start to the historic motor racing festival which this year is tipped to bring more than 25,000 visitors into a town with a resident population of only about 9000. "We've never had so many cars in the parade," said ecstatic festival director Roger Ealand as the vehicles lined up outside the Auto One automotive parts and accessories store in Nullum Street near Murwillumbah High School. "We've got some of the best cars in Australia," he added, pointing out a blue Lago Talbot which won the 1951 Australian Grand Prix and is valued at "over $2 million". Among drivers from around Australia showing off their much-loved racing machines was Warwick Williams of Cleveland, near Brisbane, who took two and a half years to build his replica 1956 Maserati 250F. "I couldn't afford to buy a real x one so I had to build one," he quipped. Mr Williams said he was new to motor racing, and although he came to Speed on Tweed last year as a spectator this was his first year as a participant. After recently retiring from running a hobby shop that sold model planes and boats, he decided to take up building his own race car as a hobby in his home garage. "Before the hobby shop I was a mechanic, so I got the old spanners out after 20 years," he said. "It's been a ton of fun." Local service station proprietor, Mark Fendley from Bray Park Fuel and Mechanical reckons the festival and the parade are "great for the town". "The best part I like is how%everybody gets involved. The whole town gets behind it," he said. "I remember when Roger%Ealand came to me and said: 'What do you think about racing cars around the main streets of Murwillumbah?' "I said: 'They do that now. "He said: 'I mean historic'. "I said: 'We'll be in that'. I used to race cars in Lismore." Heuston Tilson who two years ago moved from Kilkenny, Ireland, where he worked for the Crystal Clean car valet service couldn't be happier about the festival. He spotted a business opportunity in Murwillumbah for car valet work, set up 'Show and Shine' at the Bray Park servo a month ago and has been flat out waxing and degreasing for the past few weeks. One of his jobs was a 1936 Formula 1 Alvis shown off in yesterday's street parade. "It's waxed, polished and cleaned, all degreased as well and has had vinyl and leather treatment," Mr Tilson said. "We did an E-type Jag last week." With hundreds of proud car owners in town for the week and the prospect of showers today along with lots of road grit and oil fumes, Mr Tilson is set to be even busier.

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