PHOTOS: Top, Dean Amos wheels his Gould GR55B-Judd V8 to a Leyburn lap record. Below from left, Fastest Historic competitor Keith Carling (Tiga), Shannons Show 'n' Shine Best Car Ray Laney's 1971 Ford XY Falcon GT, Vintage Caravan winner Tony Sullivan's 1969 Olympic Riviera with 1960 Chevrolet El Camino, Ready to race! (All pics Trapnell Creations)
LEYBURN (Queensland) - Spectators at this weekend’s 24th Historic Leyburn Sprints saw around 210 historic, classic and modern cars race the clock on the streets of the little Darling Downs town, but the most colourful vehicles were likely to be found off-track.
Driving a British-built Gould GR55B-Judd V8 single-seater, Amos clocked 39.794 seconds in the 1.0 kilometre round-the-houses time trials to claim his six-straight Col Furness Memorial Trophy for fastest time among more than 200 historic, classic and modern competitors.
Good track conditions yielded the long-awaited record, more than 1.4 sec. ahead of his nearest rival, on the fourth of seven timed runs at the cooler end of an unseasonably hot winter Saturday – but Amos predicts he can go even faster.
“I definitely think there’s a .38 (sec) there if the conditions are right,” he said.
“Saturday was good but we had a couple of little problems that prevented us going faster on Sunday. It’s great to win here for the sixth time and we’ll definitely be back to give it another shot in 2020.”
The 24th annual Sprints celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Australian Grand Prix run on an ex-wartime aerodrome circuit near the Darling Downs township on 18 September 1949.
Sprints organisers invited an illustrious line-up of former racing greats to the celebrations. Bathurst winners Dick Johnson, Kevin Bartlett, Colin Bond, Bob Holden, John French and Fred Gibson helped attract Leyburn’s biggest attendance, estimated at more than 15,500.
An auction of donated goods, raffles for racing car rides and other activities raised a record $9500 for the community-run Sprints’ 2019 beneficiary, the 49-student Wheatvale State School.
“It’s been an amazing weekend, with a record run, perfect warm weather, big crowds, more than 200 fantastic cars, great competition and a wonderful atmosphere,” Sprints President Tricia Chant said.
“Competitors and spectators came from as far away as South Australia and Far North Queensland and around 2000 campers turned a town of around 300 residents into a mini-city for two nights. It was a brilliant weekend.”
Leyburn’s first-time VIP visitors, who were inundated with autograph-hunters and took part in a track parade, were impressed with the event.
“It’s really opened my eyes. We’re having a wonderful time. It's a fantastic event. There’s a lot of people here and a lot of great cars,” 1967 Bathurst 500 winner and team owner Fred Gibson said.
Colin Bond, Bathurst 1969 winner and three-time Australian Rally Champion added: “I’ve heard a lot about it. It’s been great and the number of cars this year is great. Everything’s well organised, there's no rush, people are wandering through seeing the cars, not like some other events where they lock the cars up in a garage.
“To have something like this must bring a lot of money into the town and keeps places like this going.”
Old cars and young drivers won Sprints trophies.
Keith Carling, driving a 1984 Tiga sports car, set a fastest time of 50.729sec. in the Historic classes. Ford Escort driver Tom Brelsford, 16, won the Ann Collins Junior Memorial Trophy for competitors aged 14-17 years.
Off-track, the top prize in the Vintage Caravan competition went to Tony Sullivan and his 1969 Olympic Riviera caravan with 1960 Chevrolet El Camino utility tow vehicle. Almost 30 ‘vans were entered.
Around 130 sparkling cars and motorcycles of many types and ages turned out for Sunday’s Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine. The Best Car was Ray Laney’s 1971 Ford XY Falcon GT and Best Bike Chris Golding’s 1995 Honda Goldwing.
The Historic Leyburn Sprints is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live! In Queensland events calendar, worth $800m to the State’s economy in 2019.
Further assistance is provided by the Southern Downs Regional Council.