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Classic race cars showcased in Grand Prix lead-up

In its 25th year, the Phillip Island Classic thrills thousands of spectators with Historic Racing royalty, writes Olivia Hill.

The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit played host to over 400 historic cars this weekend for the 25th Phillip Island Classic.

In the lead-up to the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne next weekend, the Victorian Historic Racing Register along with the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club (PIARC) and the Victorian Mini Club showcased historic vehicles from Australia and around the world.

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47 events took place across the three-day event, with a guest appearance from legendary two-time World Championship winning Formula 1 driver, Sir Jack Brabham. Now 87 years old, Brabham was driven around the circuit in a classic V12 Maserati, in honour of his illustrious racing career.

Seven-time Bathurst winner and four-time Australian Touring Car Champion Jim Richards also appeared, competing in a Gibson Motorsport R31 Nissan Skyline, the car he raced at the 1989 Bathurst 1000. The Nissan Skyline was one of several cars that appeared throughout the weekend that Richards had previously driven throughout his career.

Nine different classes of race cars took part in the event, representing historic racing from around the world. Cars including Formula Ford, Formula 5000 from New Zealand and Australia, historic IndyCars from America, as well as Historic Touring Cars from the Australian and World Touring Car Championships were featured.


Bill Cutler, driver of a former World Touring Car Championship BMW M3, shared his enjoyment of the event, describing it as the best historic motorsport event in the country.

“I’ve been to this meeting every year for 25 years,” he said. “It’s an awesome feeling to come to the same event every year.”

Sitting in eighth position at the end of race one on Sunday in the Group A&C Touring Car class, Cutler is happy with how his car performed. “We’ve just done a new engine for it, so the first meeting on the new engine is going well,” he said.

Like Cutler, many of the drivers competing in the event have attended for many years, contributing to the ever-increasing field of entrants across the weekend.

It is not only the competitors that return every year, but many of the officials as well. Victorian Mini Club members volunteer on the day, as well as flag marshals and fire marshals. Victorian Mini Club member and veteran official Ian Grinter believed that “it was a very successful event”.

For lovers of historic car racing, or even just historic or muscle cars, the Phillip Island Classic is not to be missed. With a large variety of cars on display, the event has something for every car enthusiast.

Olivia Hill is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism (Sport) student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter: @Lliviaa.

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