For 30 years, the Victorian Historic Racing Register have run the Philip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport. That is a remarkable achievement but perhaps not surprising. For generations, the automobile has been a passion for many. Seeing racing cars from our younger years triggers wonderful memories of the “good old days”. The cars were raw, simple, and works of art. They danced around on the track without the modern aids of aero and electronics. The drivers were skilful, brave and perhaps a little nuts. The racing was spectacular but dangerous. Philip Island Historics is a celebration of those years gone by and would have to be one of the best motorsport events of the year.
Arriving mid morning on the Sunday, we quickly discover how huge this event is. The car parks are chokers! There are car clubs set up along the main straight creating a beautiful display of amazing machinery. There are Toranas, Mustangs, Porsches, Aston Martins, Jaguars, Falcons, Minis, Brock Commodores and many others. You could spend hours checking them all out but there’s too much to see on the other side of the track where all the race cars are garaged in preparation for their various races.
Walking through the paddock garages, you can get right up close to all the cars and some owners will even let you enter the garage to get a real close look. There were over 450 cars competing in 19 categories so you’ll forgive me for missing a few, particularly as I was being hurried up by my daughter who was more interested in getting a bag of hot jam donuts!
One of the more impressive cars for me was the 1984 Porsche 956 which had a number of successful outings in Japan in the mid 80s. To see a 956 in the flesh and up so close was a very cool experience.
Group A and Group C brought back memories of my childhood, sitting in front of the TV watching Bathurst as BMWs, Commodores, Falcons, Jaguars, and others did battle on the mountain. Seeing and hearing these wonderful cars on track again was awesome!
Group S is always a favourite of mine. These guys always look like they’re having so much fun and seeing the different cars with their different strengths and weaknesses racing hard is a true joy to watch.
There was obviously plenty more that I didn’t capture as time was limited and there was just so much to see. VHRR and the affiliated car clubs that get together to run this event do an amazing job to make sure it is an enjoyable event for everyone who attends. Here’s to 30 more years of the Philip Island Classic!