Club Profile: Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania

Wednesday 20 May, 2020
Photo: The Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania's Elfin Sports and Racing Cars 60th anniversary celebration.

With a focus on celebrating and honouring classic cars from yesteryear in Tasmania, the Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania has been doing wonders for building the profile of the category within the state.

Click here for more information on the Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania. caught up with the club's President Grant Twining to discuss the club and learn more about some of the big moments in the club’s history.

How and when did the club form? 

In January 2014, I was invited to a meeting about Historic racing cars where there was about 50 people in attendance. At the conclusion of that Sunday afternoon meeting in The Man O' Ross Hotel, the club was born.

It had started in a less official capacity a few months earlier, but it wasn’t recognised formally as it was still forming. So, it was truly formalised a few months later and Brian Higgins was elected president. 

When it was identified that there was a gap in Tasmania for historic vehicles and there wasn’t any club in the state that looked after the broad spectrum of the Tasmanian historic racing history, that’s when we were created.

So, is that what makes the club unique? 

In a sense. The MG Car Club and Light Car Club of Tasmania had moved away from general competition for the bulk of their membership and focus on social events, The Hobart Sporting Car Club was very Baskerville centric, so our aim was just to focus solely on historic cars, circuits and people.

Tasmania has Baskerville and Symmons Plains race tracks, which have been around since the  1958 and 1960 respectively. They are the longest running licensed circuits in the country. Because of that history, the tracks represent the state’s rich culture and I would say we are the mecca location of Historics in the country. It’s a fantastic state for the category and that’s why as a club, we place a focus on the historic culture of Tasmanian motorsport.

Your membership base would be quite a passionate bunch, wouldn’t they?

Absolutely, we have a very broad member base. We often go to workshops together and everyone would be interested in different cars. We welcome anyone with an interest in Historics cars and circuits.

Currently, we have 90 members and it’s a very stable membership. We are a very inclusive and cohort group of people. 

What are some of the events the club runs? 

We don’t run any speed events, although we have talked about it. A recent innovation we have supported is a concept devised by Craig Trenham, where historic cars  get  to run sprints during the state championship meetings at Baskerville and Symmons Plains. 

At those events, people can drag out their historic sport and racing cars and do some laps around these iconic circuits in an easy going environment, where they get to have a run, without actually racing.  

We mainly focus running more social and garage events. One of our more popular past ones is ‘Reminiscing Longford’ - an event located at the very picturesque Longford Viaduct on the old Longford Grand Prix circuit.

Our last one there was special because Ellis French brought his early model Holden to the event, a model which raced at the track, and we also had eight people who had raced at Longford before it closed in 1968. These men were in the more mature cohort of society, however they stayed for hours reminiscing about the track. It was truly special. 

Any major highlights over the past 12 months? 

Definitely. It was the Elfin Sports and Racing Cars 60th anniversary celebration. We decided early in the year following an idea voiced by Ron Lambert, one of committee members, that we should do something for it because it wouldn’t happen otherwise, but we were careful not to clash with the Baskerville Historics planned functions. 

So we ran a function on the Thursday night before the Baskerville Historics and 150 people came to that, which was incredible. We had four classic Elfins outside and people stopped by and took photos and shared stories about them. It was just a really good night. We had guest speakers who had raced Elfins over the years and spoke about their experiences. It was a free event and people just had a wonderful time there.

Photo: Bruce Smart

Are there any other memories that stick out for you? 

Last year’s Baskerville Historics was a fantastic event and a credit to the Baskerville Historics Committee.  On top of the function we had celebrating the Elfins, that weekend’s Baskerville Historics was very professional, organised and relaxed.

A particular moment that I’ll never forget was when Mark Goldsmith bought his Elfin 400 over for the event, which we were appreciative of because Bill Hemming had also bought his and the last time those two cars ran together in Tasmania was at Longford way back in 1967

A local man Max Thompson owned and raced Marks’s Elfin 400 back in the 1970s, so we organised for him to be strapped in and do a couple of laps in the car during the meeting. It was a magnificent moment and it was really good PR too as people clamoured for photographs. Max is a veteran Tassie racer who has been out of the sport for many years, however night before his planned ride, he didn’t sleep he was that excited.  

Finally, what are the benefits of being involved with Motorsport Australia?

There are quite a few benefits to being associated with Motorsport Australia – most importantly, it wouldn’t be smart to run some sort of speed or social event in Australia without it being covered by Motorsport Australia. 

Everything is good at an event until something goes wrong and when that does happen, Motorsport Australia comes in 10 feet tall and is really supportive. Anyone can organise events, but Motorsport Australia provides the structure, the legal background and the organisation prowess

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