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Roaring ‘40s’ celebrated at Historic Sandown

Submitted by on August 14, 2009

The 40th birthday of some of the greatest nameplates in motoring and motorsport will be celebrated at this year’s Historic Sandown from November 6-8.

Melbourne’s major annual historic race meeting will mark the 40th anniversary of the Holden Dealer Team, the Ford Falcon GT HO, the Nissan/Datsun ‘Z’ sports car and the Alfa Romeo Owners club, with special displays.

Meanwhile the 40th anniversary of Formula Ford racing in Australia will be celebrated on track with a capacity field of up to 60 cars dating from the 1970s.

The Australian Touring Car Championship series is also celebrating 40 years, with 1969 marking the first year that the title was decided on points from a series of races, rather than a single winner-takes-all contest.

Following endurance victories at Sandown and Bathurst with the new Monaro GTS 327 in 1968, the Holden Dealer Team was officially formed in 1969, with Harry Firth leaving the Ford team to manage the fledgling operation.

Ironically it was the new XW Falcon GT HO that spoiled Holden’s party at Sandown in the 1969 Datsun Three Hour endurance race on September 14 that year, with Allan Moffat and John French pairing to head a crushing Falcon 1-2-3 victory.

However Firth’s HDT rebounded at Bathurst just two weeks later, with Colin Bond and Tony Roberts taking the inaugural endurance victory for the HDT in their Monaro GTS 350.

Over the next eight years the HDT under Firth’s direction achieved many notable race and rally victories and championship wins.

These included another Bathurst victory in 1972 with Peter Brock driving a Torana XU-1, two Sandown 250 wins, Australian Touring Car Championship titles in 1974 and 1975 (Brock and Colin Bond), four Australian Rally Championships and two Southern Cross Rally wins.

Around 10 original HDT race and rally cars – along with other makes that raced against them in their era – will be on display at Sandown, with notable cars leading various races on warm-up laps during the two day meeting. HDT luminaries including Harry Firth, Colin Bond and Spencer Martin have also been invited to share in the celebrations.

The Datsun 240Z sports car made its public debut at the Tokyo Motor Show on October 18, 1969, commencing an unbroken line of ‘Z’ sports cars that has recently culminated in the launch of the latest 370Z.

The Alfa Romeo Owners Club was formed in Victoria in 1969 and today is one of the largest single Marque Clubs in Australia with over 4000 members nationally and divisions in most States and Territories.

Displays honouring both marques will be amongst hundreds of special vehicles on show on Sandown’s ‘Red Hill’, which has been re-opened as a prime spectator viewing area overlooking the spectacular Dandenong Road Corner.

Other milestones being marked at this year’s Historic Sandown, which is being organised by the Victorian Historic Racing Register and supported by Shannons and CoolDrive, include the Mini and Elfin – both celebrating 50 years – while the Morgan sports car is 100 years old in 2009.

This year’s historic Sandown is also V8 heaven for enthusiasts, with 16 events during the meeting featuring V8-engined sports, racing or touring cars. The meeting will also feature the final round of the 2009 Biante Touring Car Masters, with a field of up to 35 cars expected to take part in three races during the weekend.

For further Sandown Historic information visit www.vhrr.com or call 0402 224 133

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