Bathurst Morris Cooper S

PHOTO: Exactly as it was – a replica of the Morris Cooper S that won Bathurst 50 years ago will be displayed at the Historic Leyburn Sprints.

A TINY car that claimed one of Australia's biggest motor racing victories 50 years ago will be among almost 400 automotive delights for spectators at the 21st annual Historic Leyburn Sprints, which start today.

In 1966, a Morris Cooper S driven by Rauno Aaltonen of Finland and Bob Holden of Australia won the Gallagher 500 race at Bathurst's Mount Panorama circuit, heading home eight more identical Minis in a giant-killing finish that has never been matched.

The winning Mini – in fact, an exact replica – will be on display at Leyburn before it returns to Bathurst to lead a golden anniversary parade before the Bathurst 1000 in October.

While the Bathurst Mini is expected to draw hundreds of admirers, car owner Ian Gillam of Toowoomba will race his second Mini, a near-identical Austin Cooper S version, in the Leyburn time trials on the township's one-kilometre street course.

Competition starts today at 8am and finishes tomorrow afternoon.

Around 210 historic, classic and performance cars have been entered for the Sprints, which celebrate the running of the 1949 Australian Grand Prix near Leyburn. Up to 180 more cars and vintage caravans are expected in static displays throughout the weekend.

The Sprints are an important event on the Australian historic racing calendar and a major annual attraction for the southern Darling Downs region.

Adult tickets at the gate cost $20 per day or $30 for the weekend, with accompanied children under 14 years admitted free.

The Sprints are supported through Tourism and Events Queensland's Regional Development Program as part of a growing calendar of events across the State, plus the Southern Downs Regional Council.


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