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ABOVE AND BELOW An entrant smokes it up at the start line; Bruce Garland brought plenty of experience to the track.

LEYBURN SPRINTS 2010


V8 Supercar stars, past and present, attended the latest running of the most relaxed race on earth

oming into the tiny town of Leyburn you get the feeling that for most of the time nothing much really happens here. Theres a shop, a church, a pub (owned by rugby league hero Shane Webcke), a few fibro houses around the town and a school. Its the way the locals like it: peaceful and quiet. That is except for one weekend a year when the population explodes from around 300 to several thousand as drivers and spectators from around Australia cram into this pioneer town for some real backwoods driving action. The star car this year was Jamie Chants

700hp+ XY GT Falcon, which was piloted over the weekend by touring car legend Dick Johnson and two current V8 Supercar drivers, Tim Slade and Shane Van Gisbergen, as well as Chant himself. Throughout the weekend Johnson, Slade and Van Gisbergen battled it out with no deference to seniority shown by the youngsters and none expected by Johnson. Slade managed to shade Johnson unofficially by 0.2 of a second at the close of play after a battle that had the entire town entranced, but it was Johnson who took the class win. The 65-yearold punted the GT to an official 53.1-second lap,

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Australian Classic Car

making him the fastest in the 5101cc and over class. I havent driven a car in anger since this event last year, Johnson puffs. And Dick Johnson hasnt lost his larrikin spirit either as on election day he drove Ian Bones reproduction of the 1981 TruBlu XD Falcon that Johnson took to victory in the 1981 Bathurst 1000 to cast his vote at the local polling booth. While the V8s werent the fastest cars around the one-kilometre street circuit, for many they were the heart and soul of the event and fit the look of the country town like a glove. Another great Aussie character in the field was Bruce Garland, and while his name may not be a familiar one, his reputation in events like the Paris-Dakar rallies make his presence at the Sprints of great interest to all. Motor sport isnt an anomaly in Leyburn, with the town hosting the 1949 Australian Grand Prix on a seven-kilometre circuit made

up of WWII airfields outside the town with that first race won by John Crouch in a Delahaye 135. This past glory echoes through to today with the car that finished second outright in the 1949 Grand Prix in the hands of Ray Gordon being driven at this years event by current owner Peter Gostelow. In the end Gostelows supercharged MG TC Special single-seater took the class L (logbook) win with a 1:04.7 minute lap. Todays Sprints are a little different to the 1949 Grand Prix as the event is a not-for-profit affair with all proceeds being poured back into community groups, like the local Country Womens Association. The community spirit shown throughout the event is incredible as literally everyone in town gets involved. From the kids in the local Scouts collecting rubbish, to the marshalls, timekeepers and ticket-sellers, everyone is happy to have the Sprints in their town.

BELOW Dick Johnson got reacquainted with his 1981 Bathurst-winning TruBlu Falcon when he took it for a cruise to a nearby polling station.

w w w.ccar.com.au

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